THE CONTEXT: China said that political tensions between Beijing and Australia were not behind a UNESCO recommendation to place the Great Barrier Reef on its endangered list
- The Great Barrier Reef has been put on a list of World Heritage sites that could be put on the in-danger list after losing half of its corals since 1995.
- Australia has assailed the move, blaming global warming for the loss, while UNESCO experts argued that pollution run-off has contributed to the loss.
- China dismissed the “Australian government allegations” that Beijing pressed to have the Barrier Reef listed as endangered, and said the decision was based “on reports and data provided by Australia itself.
- Australia should fulfill its obligations to protect world heritage sites instead of making baseless accusations against other members” of UNESCO, China pointed out.
- Both China and Australia are among the 21 nations on heritage committee, which is evaluating nearly 50 sites that could be added to its more than 1,100 World Heritage list.
ABOUT WORLD HERITAGE SITES/LIST
- A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO for its special cultural or physical significance.
- The list of World Heritage Sites is maintained by the international ‘World Heritage Programme’, administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
- This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
ABOUT GREAT BARRIER REEF
- The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia.
- It contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusk.
- It also holds great scientific interest as the habitat of species such as the dugong (‘sea cow’) and the large green turtle, which are threatened with extinction.
- This diversity of species and habitats, and their interconnectivity, make the GBR one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on earth.
- There are over 1,500 species of fish, about 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of mollusk, and some 240 species of birds, plus a great diversity of sponges, anemones, marine worms, crustaceans, and other species.
- No other World Heritage property contains such biodiversity.
- This diversity, especially the endemic species, means the GBR is of enormous scientific and intrinsic importance, and it also contains a significant number of threatened species