Great Barrier Reef report media brief

Topline findings

  • The Great Barrier Reef meets at least five of the eight criteria for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger, only one of which is necessary for inscription. 
  • Inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, either this year or when the Committee reconsiders the matter in 2017, remains a real possibility given the strength of the evidence considered by the World Heritage Committee.
  • To ensure the protection of the Reef that is required to halt its decline and create the conditions for its sustained recovery, we recommend that the Committee modify the draft decision at its June 2015 meeting to:
  1. Inscribe the Great Barrier Reef on the List of World Heritage In Danger; and
  1. Regardless of whether the Great Barrier Reef is inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
    1. Require annual monitoring of progress of both the implementation of the Reef 2050 Plan and the achievement of quantitative targets for ecosystem health and biodiversity,
    2. Require amendments to the Reef 2050 Plan to address its inadequacies as discussed in this report; and
    3. Explicitly state that if the anticipated progress towards both implementation of the Reef 2050 Plan and achievement of quantitative targets for ecosystem health and biodiversity is not being made, the Committee will consider the possible inscription of the Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2017.

Table: Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: Assessment against the criteria for the inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage In Danger (Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, WHC.13/01, July 2013)[1] 

 

CRITERIA

LEGAL ASSESSMENT OF EVIDENCE

Paragraph 180 a) ASCERTAINED DANGER – The property is faced with specific and proven imminent danger, such as:

180 a) i) A serious decline in the population of the endangered species or the other species of Outstanding Universal Value for which the property was legally established to protect, either by natural factors such as disease or by man-made factors such as poaching. 

The evidence satisfies this criterion.

180 a) ii) Severe deterioration of the natural beauty or scientific value of the property, as by human settlement, construction of reservoirs which flood important parts of the property, industrial and agricultural development including use of pesticides and fertilizers, major public works, mining, pollution, logging, firewood collection, etc. 

The evidence arguably satisfies this criterion.

180 a) iii) Human encroachment on boundaries or in upstream areas which threaten the integrity of the property.

 

The evidence satisfies this criterion.

Paragraph 180 b)

POTENTIAL DANGER – The property is faced with major threats which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics.  Such threats are, for example:

180 b) i) a modification of the legal protective status of the area.

The evidence does not satisfy this criterion.

180 b) ii) planned resettlement or development projects within the property or so situated that the impacts threaten the property.

The evidence satisfies this criterion.

180 b) iii) outbreak or threat of armed conflict.

The evidence does not satisfy this criterion.

180 b) iv) the management plan or management system is lacking or inadequate, or not fully implemented.  

The evidence satisfies this criterion.

180 b) v) threatening impacts of climatic, geological or other environmental factors.  

The evidence satisfies this criterion.

 

[1] UNESCO, Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Outstanding Universal Value, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (“Operational Guidelines”), WHC. 13/01 (July 2013), para. 4, http://whc.unesco.org/archive/opguide13-en.pdf (accessed June 4, 2015).


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