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Australia blindsided by UN push to downgrade Great Barrier Reef

Article image for Australia blindsided by UN push to downgrade Great Barrier Reef

A push by a China-chaired UN committee to declare the Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’ has blindsided Australia. 

Australian officials only learned of the draft on Friday, despite an assurance just weeks ago from the Paris-based World Heritage Centre the reef’s health status would not be downgraded.

A downgrading of the reef’s health status is estimated to threaten 64,000 jobs and $6.4 billion in tourism revenue.

Australian officials learned of the draft on Friday, which notes “despite positive achievements”, progress in protecting the reef had been insufficient in meeting key targets.

The decision is set to be presented at the 44th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in China from July 16.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley told Neil Breen Australia will fight the draft, arguing the nation has been singled out.

“There is machinations behind the scenes, as there always are with international networks and United Nations bodies.

“Now, there are 83 natural world heritage properties facing very high, or high threats from climate change.

“They say they’ve done an assessment but it’s a desktop review.”

Press PLAY below to hear the interview in full 

Image: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images, Getty 

Neil Breen
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