Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement

The Australian and Queensland governments have been working together for the long-term protection and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park since its inception in 1975. This cooperative approach was formalised by the Emerald Agreement in 1979 and updated in July 2009 with the Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement.

The new Agreement provides a contemporary framework for cooperation between the governments, recognising challenges such as climate change and catchment water quality that were not foreseen at the time of the 1979 Agreement.

The Agreement recognises that key pressures on the Reef—such as climate change impacts, catchment water quality and coastal development—cannot be effectively addressed by either government on their own. It aims to ensure an integrated and collaborative approach is taken by the Australian and Queensland governments to manage marine and land environments within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum

The Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum oversees the implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement. This Forum was previously known as the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council which was established in 1979 under the Emerald Agreement.

Under a new Ministerial Council system agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) on 13 February 2011, the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council was discontinued as a formal CoAG Council. However, Ministers agreed to continue to meet outside of the formal CoAG system and from 1 July 2011 the Council has been referred to as the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum.

The Ministerial Forum is comprised of two ministers each from the Australian and Queensland governments with responsibility for matters relating to the environment and marine parks, science, tourism and/or natural resource management. Ministers responsible for mining may not be members. The current members are:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP – Australian Government Minister for the Environment (Chair)
  • TBC – Second Australian Government Minister
  • The Hon Andrew Powell MP - Queensland Government Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
  • The Hon Andrew Cripps MP - Queensland Government Minister for Natural Resources.
The Ministerial Forum's role is set out in the Intergovernmental Agreement. Protocols for its operation are set out in a schedule to the Agreement. The Ministerial Council met 32 times under the 1979 Emerald Agreement. The Ministerial Council held its first meeting under the new Intergovernmental Agreement on 3 July 2009. The Ministerial Forum held its first meeting on 12 August 2011.

The Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum Secretariat can be contacted as follows:

Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum Secretariat
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601