The United Nations has put the Queensland and federal governments on notice that the Great Barrier Reef could be added to a list of endangered world heritage sites.This would be a huge slap in the face for Australia and a massive economic loss to Australia's tourism business. There are currently 38 such endangered sites listed by UNESCO.
In a draft decision released Friday night which is expected to be adopted when UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meets in Cambodia next month, it will be recommended the Great Barrier Reef be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2014 ‘‘in the absence of a firm and demonstrable commitment’’ from the state and federal governments to take action.
The action that will be needed includes halting coastal development project that could impact the ‘‘outstanding universal value’’ of the site.
Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waterssaid it was worrying that Australia was on the brink of joining the ‘‘list of shame’’ as a country that could not manage its world heritage sites.
‘‘Australia would be the only developed country in the world to have a world heritage site on endangered list. It would be a huge international embarrassment and it would be a big blow to our tourism industry,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve got 54,000 people who rely on a healthy reef and a thriving tourism industry and those jobs would be at risk if international tourists think, 'Oh, the reef’s on the endangered list, gee it must be completely trashed, we won’t bother coming to visit’.
‘‘It would be a massive blow to the tourism industry, which is about $5 billion a year in revenue and that’s revenue we could have for years to come – it’s not just a one-off mining boom.’’