The Great Barrier Reef stretching over 2,000 kilometers north of Australia is the eighth wonder of the world. UNESCO recommended that it be included in the list of “at risk” sites, due to pollution and climate change, which greatly disturbed the Australian government, which made commitments to invest about three billion dollars to protect it.
UNESCO on Tuesday welcomed Australia’s “solemn commitments” to invest nearly $3 billion to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which Canberra wants to avoid being listed as a World Heritage site “in danger”.
“I am pleased that the ongoing dialogue between our experts and the Australian authorities is now being reflected in formal commitments,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.
In 2021, UNESCO threatened to include the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site since 1981, on its list of “in danger” sites, deeply upsetting the former Australian government, which worked to block the action diplomatically.
In a letter to the UN agency dated May 25 and seen by AFP, Australia’s environment ministry announced an “investment” of A$4.4 billion ($2.93 billion) “to ensure the future of the Great Barrier”.
Among the promised measures are the establishment of “fishing-free zones” in a third of the site by 2025, a “significant” reduction in pollutant discharges from farmers and industrialists, and a reduction in the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to UNESCO.
Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and natural gas, and one of the worst countries in terms of per capita carbon dioxide emissions (15.3 tons per annum), far ahead of China (6.7) and even the United States (14.7). ), according to the World Bank.
In addition to its invaluable value from a natural or scientific point of view, it is estimated that the Barrier Reef, which extends over 2,300 km in length, generates $4.8 billion in revenue for the Australian tourism sector.
In December 2021, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said climate change poses the greatest threat to the wonders of nature, and added the Great Barrier Reef to its list of sites classified as “critical”.
The Great Barrier Reef has already experienced three bleaching events in the last five years, while half of the coral reefs have disappeared since 1995 due to rising water temperatures.