Australia will challenge UNESCO’s draft recommendation to add the Great Barrier Reef to the List of World Heritage in Danger, Environment Minister Sussan Ley told the ABC News broadcaster on Tuesday.
The World Heritage Committee under UNESCO made the proposal earlier in the day, saying it is due to the detrimental impact of climate change. The committee added that it would consider the issue during a China-hosted meeting next month.
“For us to be singled out in a way that completely distorts the normal process was something we were very strong about. And we made the point that we will challenge this decision when it comes before the full committee later on in July,” Ley said, noting that the authorities were “blindsided by a sudden late decision.”
The sponsors of the draft recommendation did not take into account all measures Australia had put in place to protect the reef, including work on restoring corals and water quality management, the official said.
“It is almost unheard of for a site to be added to the endangered list, or recommended … without the necessary consultation leading up to it,” Ley added.
UNESCO’s proposal also sparked an outcry among representatives of tourism businesses, as they fear the inclusion in the list of sites in danger will affect the industry.