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Australia has pledged a large sum to protect the Great Barrier Reef –
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Australia has pledged a large sum to protect the Great Barrier Reef –

UNESCO on Tuesday welcomed Australia’s commitment of A$4.4 billion to protect the Great Barrier Reef as it seeks to prevent the area from being listed as an endangered World Heritage site.

“I am delighted that the ongoing dialogue between our experts and the Australian authorities has led to today’s formal commitments,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a press release.

In 2021, UNESCO threatened the city of Canberra to add the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site since 1981, to the Endangered Heritage List. The previous Australian government had tried to fight the measure diplomatically.

Australia’s Department of the Environment wrote to UNESCO on May 25 that it was ready to spend A$4.4 billion to “secure the future of the Great Barrier Reef”.

The Canberra government’s promises include, among other things, the establishment of hunting-free zones in a third of the region by 2025, a significant reduction in agricultural and industrial pollution, and a reduction in the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and natural gas. In addition, it is one of the countries with the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide (15.3 tons per year), far ahead of China (7.6) and even the United States (14.7), according to World Bank data.

The Great Barrier Reef and its surroundings – which span 2,300 kilometers of coastline – in addition to being invaluable from a natural and scientific point of view, generate up to $4.8 billion in revenue for Australian tourism. Bleaching has occurred on the Great Barrier Reef three times in five years, and half of the reefs have disappeared since 1995 due to rising water temperatures.

the great Barrier Reef. Photo: Sarah Lai/AFP

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