Our new report, released today, questions the World Heritage Committee’s recent draft decision not to inscribe Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Environmental Justice Australia produced this expert legal report in partnership with US-based Earthjustice. It shows the Reef has met as many as 6 out of the 8 critera for an in danger listing.
The World Heritage Convention provides that, for a World Heritage site to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger by the World Heritage Committee, it needs to be threatened by serious and specific dangers.
To assess these dangers, there are eight criteria for natural properties under the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the Convention, and if the Committee finds that the condition of the property corresponds to at least one of these criteria, it can inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The condition of the Great Barrier Reef clearly meets 5 of the 8 criteria, and arguably meets a sixth, meaning six of eight possible red flags have been raised.
With the World Heritage Committee due to make its final decision on the Reef in July, an in danger listing either this year, or in 2017 if stronger action is not taken, remains a real possibility
If the World Heritage system is to have any value, it must address the most serious threats to the most iconic examples of world heritage.
If any site falls into this category, it is the threatened Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef on the planet and one of its richest and most complex ecosystems. The World Heritage Committee should step up to ensure that this unique and threatened part of humanity’s world heritage is not lost forever.
Pic: Bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef, near Lizard Island, Queensland (by XL Catlin Seaview Survey)