Welcoming UNESCO decision

Statement by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority about the World Heritage Committee’s 41st session held in July 2017 in Krakow, Poland:

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority welcomes the decision of the World Heritage Committee and its recognition of the significant effort underway to build the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

Mass coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017 is concerning for all governments responsible for World Heritage sites affected by global coral bleaching that began in 2014.

In the face of these mounting pressures, building the Reef’s resilience is vital and work is underway involving government, industry and the community.The Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 Plan outlines a range of actions to build resilience of the Reef, and the  Authority is making a significant contribution to implementing the Plan.

On ground actions are also underway — for example protecting coral through crown-of-thorns starfish control and tackling illegal fishing through a Reef-wide compliance program.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority recently convened a two-day Reef Summit with 70 national and international experts to determine what else can be done in addition to the already extensive actions being taken to protect the Reef.

The key objective of the Summit was to develop a blueprint for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in response to mass bleaching and cumulative impacts on the Great Barrier Reef — an important part of this was to develop resilience initiatives focusing on coral reef habitats.

It is also vital the world acts to implement the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so the average temperature increase remains well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius.