Sun, 29 Jan 2023

A United Nations-backed mission is recommending that Australia's Great Barrier Reef be added to the list of endangered World Heritage sites.

A report published this week warned that without "ambitious, rapid and sustained" climate action, the world's largest coral reef would not survive.

It comes on the back of a 10-day visit to the reef last March by officials from Unesco, the UN's Paris-based cultural agency, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

According to two experts from Unesco and the IUCN, the degradation of the reef is continuing because of both global warming and various pollutions linked to agriculture and fishing.

Living treasure

A living place of immense variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia, the reef has been on Unesco's World Heritage List since 1981.

But if the UN decides to designate the reef as endangered, it puts the Australian government on notice that the site could be removed from the World Heritage list altogether.

The researchers said that "despite unprecedented scientific and management efforts in recent years" by Australia, the site's ability to withstand the impacts of climate change is "substantially compromised".

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The report was also damning about recent efforts to stop mass bleaching and prevent pollution from contaminating the reef's natural waters, saying they have not been fast nor effective enough.

Australia's federal government and Queensland's regional authorities should adopt more ambitious emission reduction targets, in line with international efforts to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, the report said.

Feedback from Australian officials, both at the federal and state level, will also be reviewed before Unesco makes any official proposal to the World Heritage committee.

Originally published on RFI

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