Environmental campaigners and those who depend on the Great Barrier Reef have received support from UNESCO. The agency recently declared that Australia must ensure the treasure must be protected from threats ranging from pollution and reckless industrialisation. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee says it will continue pressuring Australia to deliver on its promises to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is restored to health.
“This vote by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee demonstrates that green advocacy works: the Australian government is now effectively on probation over the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. For this amazing place to flourish again, governments and businesses alike have a crucial role to play. We will be watching progress and continue to protect this and other natural World Heritage sites,” said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK.
Australia commits to improving the reef’s health
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International says Australia has committed to ensure the health of the reef remains a priority over damaging activities such as dredging and dumping the spoil. He adds that UNESCO will maintain a close watch on the reef and whether its condition improves. The issue is of critical importance to over half a million WWF campaign supporters and the millions of people all over the world who are concerned by the industrial destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
UNESCO expresses concern
The committee’s final decision on the reef expressed concern that wildlife populations and their habitats have experience a general decline and the overall outlook for the reef is poor. The committee highlighted the fact that there remains major long term threats such as climate change and water pollution which must be tackled.
Australia must live up to its promises
In its decision, the committee requested Australia to make sure all its commitments are rigorously implemented so that the reef’s current documented declines are halted. Australia is required to report back to UNESCO by December 2016 on its progress and then make a follow up report three years after that in order to demonstrate effective and sustained protection of the reef.
Major threats remain
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman says the major threats to the Great Barrier Reef are climate change and water pollution. He adds that the organisation will work non-stop to ensure that the marine ecosystem is restored to health. The decision by the World Heritage committee will maintain the pressure on Australia to live up to its promises and achieve results. It is important to bring back the corals and marine life that depend on the reef.