Great Barrier Reef: UNESCO List of Danger Sites Recommended Again

Australia still has a few months to convince of its determination to make every effort to preserve the Great Barrier Reef, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. On Monday 28 November, the expert mission, mandated by the World Heritage Committee, in 2021, to assess its state of conservation and the measures taken by the Australian authorities to protect it, delivered its conclusions. She “recommends that the Great Barrier Reef be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger”.

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In this very detailed report, the experts first note that “the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is significantly affected by factors related to climate change”. Since 1998, Earth’s largest living structure has undergone six episodes of bleaching – a process of dieback caused by rising surface water temperatures that results in the expulsion of the symbiotic algae that give coral its vibrant color – , increasingly frequent episodes that have reached more than 98% of its 3,000 reefs.

While the program reef (reef) 2050, a thirty-five-year conservation plan launched by Australia in 2015, calls for the country to contribute to the global effort to combat global warming to contain temperature rise “significantly below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era”the report notes the lack of “concrete measures”. He also reminds us that the ability of the Great Barrier to recover is “significantly compromised, particularly – but not exclusively – due to degraded water quality”.

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Despite the colossal sums committed by the island-continent, more than 2.5 billion euros in total, the underwater kingdom continues to be affected by the discharge of sediments, fertilizers and plastic pollution. Finally, the document highlights a third threat: “Fishing Activities”.

A pontoon above Moore Reef in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia, November 14, 2022.

In June 2021, the scientific arm of Unesco had already recommended placing the Great Barrier Reef on the list of sites in danger due to its deterioration. The Conservative government, led by Scott Morrison, then launched an intense lobbying campaign with the member states of the committee and obtained, in July 2021, that a mission be dispatched to the scene before a decision was taken. This unique ecosystem represents a major tourist attraction for the country on which 60,000 jobs depend.

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Great Barrier Reef: UNESCO List of Danger Sites Recommended Again

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