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AFP
June 23, 2021

Australia hits out at threatened UN downgrade of Great Barrier Reef

AFP
June 23, 2021

BRISBANE, Australia: Australia said on Tuesday it will strongly oppose a Unesco plan to list the Great Barrier Reef as being "in danger" over deterioration caused by climate change.

The UN body released a draft report on Monday recommending the reef’s World Heritage status be downgraded because of its dramatic coral decline, after years of public threats to do so. "It’s a warning to the international community and all of humanity that the coral ecosystem is in danger," Fanny Douvere, the head of Unesco’s World Heritage marine programme, told an online press briefing.

The reef is one of seven sites threatened with being added to the endangered heritage list over ecological damage, overdevelopment, overtourism or security concerns. The Italian city of Venice, which has been overrun with tourists, and the waterfront of the English city of Liverpool, which is undergoing a major redevelopment, are among the other listings in Unesco’s sights.

Environmental campaigners said the threat to the Great Barrier Reef’s heritage status highlight Australia’s lack of action to curb the carbon emissions which contribute to global warming.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said Australia would challenge the move, accusing UN officials of backflipping on their assurances ahead of the World Heritage Committee’s 44th session in China next month, where the recommendation will be formally considered.