.We must work faster to protect our Reef says the World Heritage Committee
6 July 2017
The World Heritage Committee has called for accelerated efforts to save our Great Barrier Reef, particularly with regard to water quality and has noted with serious concern the coral bleaching and mortality suffered by the Reef in 2016 and 2017. The failure to implement stronger land clearing regulation was also noted with concern, the WHC called for increased efforts to ensure that this, and other required legislation to protect our Reef, are put in place.
The Committee has called for Australia to submit an overall report on the state of conservation of the Reef by 1 December 2019. The Report is to demonstrate the ‘effective and sustained protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and effective performance in meeting the targets established under the [Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan].’ This Report will be considered at the WHC 4t4th session in 2020.
The full details of the Decision are below.
EDO Qld supports the Queensland and federal governments following the Decision of the WHC to assist in the survival of our Reef.
There has been some action taken to address the Reef 2050 Plan commitments, including the commencement of investigations into improving the regulation of water quality impacts; however this action is far too slow to provide the necessary strong, fast assistance to increase our Reefs resilience to dangerous climate change impacts.
Further, the land clearing laws in Queensland remain today substantially the same as introduced under the previous Queensland Government. The attempt at introducing a new Bill to strengthen the laws was unsuccessful, but more can be done to protect our vegetation from unsustainable clearing – such as amendments to the planning framework, declarations protecting sensitive Reef catchments from clearing, and finalisation of the review of the unsustainable self-assessable codes. The federal legislation regulating land clearing impacts to the Reef continues to not be sufficiently enforced by the federal Department of Environment and Energy.
The Queensland and federal governments have still not implemented a climate change emissions reduction target that will ensure we reach the globally agreed commitments in the Paris Agreement.
EDO Qld continues to work for stronger action by the government to ensure the protection of our Reef.
The final decision can be viewed, once uploaded, here.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.24
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.7, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
3. Welcomes the progress made with the inception and initial implementation of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (2050 LTSP) and the establishment of the Investment Framework, and expresses its appreciation for the significant efforts by all those involved in the implementation of the 2050 LTSP;
4. Strongly encourages the State Party to accelerate efforts to ensure meeting the intermediate and long-term targets of the plan, which are essential to the overall resilience of the property, in particular regarding water quality;
5. Notes with serious concern the coral bleaching and mortality that affected the property in 2016 and 2017;
6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, an overall report on the state of conservation of the property demonstrating the effective and sustained protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and effective performance in meeting the targets established under the 2050 LTSP, linked to the findings of the 2014 and 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Reports, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020.