Australia must do more to protect Great Barrier Reef, UNESCO says
Sydney: The United Nations Cultural Heritage Organization, UNESCO today urged Australia to accelerate efforts to save Great Barrier Reefs by saying that long-term goals for improving their health can not be achieved.
Progress in meeting water quality objectives has been slow and Australia can not exceed its 2050 targets, announced in a World Heritage Site evaluation project prepared before a meeting Krakow, Poland, in July.
“The World Heritage Center and IUCN believe that the implementation of the Plan will be intensified to ensure that the LTSP 2050 (long-term sustainability plan) medium- and long-term objectives are achieved, especially in terms of water quality.” Report said.
The Australian Coral 2050 Plan was launched in 2015 and is a key element of the government’s initiative to avoid classification of the UN’s “endangered” World Heritage List. A negative rating on the Great Barrier Reef – located on the northeast coast of the country – could be embarrassing for the Australian government and undermine its lucrative tourism industry.
The reef faces a number of threats, including poor water quality due to agricultural runoff, climate change, illegal fishing and coastal development. Coral bleaching events in the background caused by climate change and El Niño in the last two years have devastated much of the reefs.
UNESCO has welcomed the start and initial implementation of the government’s $ 1.28 billion investment plan and strategy for the next five years. However, he noted that a major law governing compensation had not yet been adopted and that climate change remained the most significant threat.
Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg welcomed the draft decision in a joint statement. “The government recognizes in its draft decision the desire of the Committee to accelerate actions for water quality objectives and work with the Queensland government and the Independent Group on this issue,” the statement said.
Environmental groups said the report showed that Australia had to lift its game
“There has been an unprecedented choral loss ever since,” said Richard Leck, the world’s leading WWF- Australia.