UN To Decide Whether To Delay Great Barrier Reef "In Danger" Listing Or Not

Pushes to delay the listing

Article heading image for UN To Decide Whether To Delay Great Barrier Reef "In Danger" Listing Or Not

The United Nations’ World Heritage Committee will meet on Friday to decide whether to list The Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” or not. 

The Morrison Government is intent on delaying the reef's "in-danger" listing. So much so that last week, Liberal MP Warren Entsch took nine foreign ambassadors from the UN Committee snorkelling on Agincourt Reef, off Port Douglas.

The trip was designed to show how much the area had improved since being preyed on by crown-of-thorns Starfish, cyclones and bleaching. Reportedly, the ambassadors were pleased with what they saw. 

This week, The Guardian uncovered an email from Australia’s Paris-based ambassador to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Megan Anderson. 

It contained a report revealing nine different countries that wanted to “co-author/co-sponsor” an amendment supporting Australia’s desires to delay decision-making on the “in-danger” classification until at least 2023. 

This email follows Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s trip to eight different countries where she lobbied against the in-danger listing. 

It seems Australia may have enough backing to delay UNESCO from declaring the reef's classification with both Russia and Spain already listing their support on the amendment.

There are many who are horrified over the political push. 


Retired Diving instructor Tony Fontes has spent more than 40 years taking people reef diving. He says the government has turned the issue into “a political game.”

“I’ve seen a lot of the reef go from pristine to something far less than pristine. In fact, to a point where you say, well, let’s not dive there anymore. If the decision is to not list the reef ‘in danger’, there will be no winners. But there’ll be one big loser and that’s the reef.”

Fontes believes the best thing for the reef would be an endangered listing, as it would force the government to better their climate policy and lead the way in mitigating climate change. 

“That’s the only thing that’s going to save the reef,” says Fontes.

Marine biologist Dr Jodie Rummer says it’s likely the government wants the “in danger” listing scrapped for fear it will affect the tourism industry. 

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Queensland Newsroom

23 July 2021

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Queensland Newsroom

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