UNESCO puts Australia on notice to save the Reef

Feature Story - 28 June, 2012
In St. Petersburg in Russia the World Heritage Committee is holding its annual meeting discussing the state of conservation of globally significant places on the World Heritage list.

UNESCO ST Petersburg

Overnight, the World Heritage Committee passed a set of decisions which puts Australia on notice that the reckless expansion of coal developments along the Great Barrier Reef threatens its World Heritage Status.

Specifically, the decision warns that unless Australia acts on a series of recommendations to avert clear threats to the Reef, it could be placed on the list of World Heritage sites "in danger". If this happened, the Reef would join sites in countries like Ethiopia, Iraq, Honduras, Uganda or Afghanistan - you can see the list here.

No wonder, when there are plans to build the world's biggest coal ports at both Abbot Point and Hay Point, either side of the Whitsundays.

During the World Heritage Committee's discussion of the Reef, three countries - Switzerland, India and Colombia - got up to talk about the global importance of the Great Barrier Reef and how a precautionary approach must be taken to its conservation..

If the threat of listing the Reef as "in danger" wasn't enough, here were representatives of the global community, from three continents, all calling on Australia to implement UNESCO's recommendations and ensure the long-term health of the world's largest coral reef. In all, 21 countries passed the decision by consensus.

With this clear decision from the World Heritage Committee, the ball is in Environment Minister Tony Burke's court. Will he protect Australia’s most treasured environmental icon or risk irreversible damage to it by allowing extensive new and expanded coal development?

The Reef is too precious to be turned into a coal superhighway.

The UNESCO announcement comes at a time when Indian conglomerate GVK is closing in on approval to build the first of the massive new coal terminals proposed in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

We urgently need your help to pressure the Government to listen to UNESCO, protect the Great Barrier Reef and say no to this reckless development. Your voice can make a difference.

Submissions close on 16th July, so please send a message now to stop this destruction and protect the Great Barrier Reef.


Take Action: Sign the petition to save the reef