Bonn, Germany, 1 July 2015 (IUCN) – IUCN’s advice to continue close monitoring of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was adopted in full today at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting taking place in Bonn, Germany.
Following IUCN’s advice, the World Heritage Committee has requested Australia to report, in two years’ time, on progress made in implementing the new Great Barrier Reef 2050 sustainability plan, including information on secured investment. In five years’ time, Australia must also present a formal report to the Committee on the effectiveness of the plan.
According to IUCN, which is the official advisory body on nature to the Committee, the Great Barrier Reef is facing major challenges due to climate change, poor water quality and impacts from coastal development. Australia’s 2050 sustainability plan for the reef proposes a range of actions in response to these threats, such as reducing pollution, restricting port development and permanently banning dumping of dredged material within the reef.
“Today’s decision was a tough but balanced one,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “It recognises achievements made by Australia to create the 2050 sustainability plan and the progress facilitated by World Heritage monitoring.
“The reef is clearly facing unprecedented challenges and the response needed to address them must be equally unparalleled. Australia’s new plan is a welcome and important step to support the Great Barrier Reef’s resilience, particularly in the face of the global threat of climate change. The plan now needs to translate into action, backed by adequate finance and rigorous science.”
The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest coral reef system on Earth, hosting the world’s largest diversity of coral reefs and a wide variety of threatened species such as the Dugong and the Green Turtle.