Latest News

Back to Latest News back


UNESCO recommends Great Barrier Reef be listed as ‘in danger’

UNESCO recommends Great Barrier Reef be listed as ‘in danger’
June 22, 2021

The Australian Government has been sent a powerful message from UNESCO: the Great Barrier Reef should be placed on the List of World Heritage In Danger because of the threat of climate change along with poor water quality. 

Last night, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released its draft State of Conservation report about the Great Barrier Reef which contains a draft decision to be ratified by the World Heritage Committee in July. 

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said the UNESCO’s draft report is a clear and powerful analysis of the state of the Reef and what must be done to preserve it.

Global heating caused by fossil fuel burning has driven ocean temperatures higher, leading to three mass bleaching events on the 2,300km reef since the last time it was assessed by the committee in 2015.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley is ‘stunned’ by the recommendation and will strongly oppose the recommendion advising she has joined the Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, in a call to UNESCO’s director general, Audrey Azoulay.

If the UNESCO committee follows the recommendation, experts said it would be the first time a natural world heritage site has been placed on the ‘in danger’ list mainly because of impacts from the climate crisis.

Environmental consultant to AMCS Imogen Zethoven notes “The UNESCO report makes it very clear: limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C is a critical threshold for the Reef.

“Australia’s climate record is more consistent with a 2.5-3.0 C rise in global average temperature – a level that would destroy the Great Barrier Reef and all the world’s coral reefs.

“The Australian Government’s inaction on climate change has led the Reef to the brink of an ‘In Danger’ listing.”

The UNESCO report calls for a Reactive Monitoring Mission to Australia to develop a set of ‘corrective measures’ centred around ensuring that the Reef 2050 Plan addresses the threat of climate change.

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions targets have not changed since 2015 with Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, having resisted international pressure to adopt a firm net zero target by 2050.

IUCN, the advisory body to the World Heritage Committee, last year downgraded the Great Barrier Reef’s outlook to ‘critical’. In 2019, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority downgraded the Reef’s outlook to ‘very poor’.

UNESCO’s draft decision calls on Australia to take accelerated action in other areas especially to do with poor water quality and the slow uptake of improved catchment management to tackle pollution of the Reef’s waters.

The draft decision also calls on the Australian Government to report back to UNESCO on 1st February 2022 to demonstrate how it is implementing all the requests. The state of the Reef will then again be reviewed at the World Heritage Committee meeting next year.

The World Heritage Committee meets 16th-31st July to consider UNESCO’s draft report and to approve a final decision about the Reef.

The UNESCO report said despite efforts and achievements by the state and federal governments, key targets on improving water quality had not been met: “The plan requires stronger and clearer commitments, in particular towards urgently countering the effects of climate change, but also towards accelerating water quality improvement and land management measures.”


Related Articles

21st June 2021 - Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program opens

19th May 2021 - Australian Marine Conservation Society claims Hunter Valley gas development to be a disaster for the Reef

9th May 2021 - Great Barrier Reef protection to be enhanced with new $9.7 million vessel

28th April 2021 - Queensland Government rejects mine to protect Reef

22nd February 2021 - 17 marine tourism operators funded to monitor health of Great Barrier Reef

17th February 2021 - Great Barrier Reef’s D Grade highlights urgent action is required

4th December 2020 - Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority elects Jeff Baines as inaugural Chair of Reef Guardian Council

9th October 2020 - Australian Marine Conservation Society claims Reef Inquiry confirms what was already known

30th September 2020 - Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority responds to illegal fishing on the Reef

8th September 2020 - Australian Marine Conservation Society welcomes Federal Government intervention into protecting Great Barrier Reef wildlife

16th June 2020 - Great Barrier Reef campaigners deliver message of Reef-safe recovery

25th May 2020 - Australian Marine Conservation Society would welcome additional support for reef tourism sector

7th April 2020 - Reef tourism industry and conservationists demand climate action following release of new bleaching survey

28th February 2020 - Australian Marine Conservation Society calls for a Reef-safe climate policy

19th September 2019 - Research suggests coral reef protection could benefit all ecosystems

26th June 2019 - Research shows Great Barrier Reef visitors understand climate threat

8th June 2018 - Coral bleaching leads to fall in domestic tourism to Great Barrier Reef

18th April 2018 - Massive extinction of Great Barrier Reef coral during 2016 marine heatwave

25th March 2017 - Report suggests Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching could deter one million visitors

14th October 2015 - Tourism industry alarm at global coral reef bleaching

5th March 2020 - Great Barrier Reef tourism operators highlight the distressing impacts of coral bleaching 

Support our industry news service
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

As an independent publisher, we need reader support for our industry news gathering so ask that - if you don't already do so - you back us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine and/or our online news.

Click here to view our subscription options.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Centaman has been a market leader in Enterprise Software Solutions for the leisure and recreation industry and both profit and not-for-profit attractions since 1991. It offers a wide range of software…

read more

Access / Billing / Fitness / Technology / Ticketing


Hydrocare Pool Services

Hydrocare Pool Services Pty Ltd offer 30 years of experience in aquatic industry features, products and water treatment. Hydrocare Pools has undertaken water treatment for aquatic centres and…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Technology


Abel Sports

INTRODUCTION Abel Sports is Australia’s leading manufacturer and suppliers of Goal Posts, sports ground safety netting systems and coaches boxes for Stadiums ,Sports Clubs, Councils and…

read more

Recreation / Sport / Venues


Smart Connection Consultancy

Smart Connection Consultancy is a boutique sport and recreation consultancy who has become one of Australia’s leading advocates for the use of synthetic sports surfaces as a vehicle to grow…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


WATERPLAY Solutions Corp

Whether your goal is increasing your centre's revenues or creating an engaging environment, why not add play to your project? If you're looking for stylish aquatic play features, kid-tested…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Waterparks


XBODY Australia Pty Ltd

PROVEN BUSINESS CONCEPTS WITH XBODY XBody’s goal is to see you and your EMS business succeed. That is why we don’t just sell equipment, we provide know-how, expert knowledge,…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



As of 2018, TicketServ operates as SeatGeek Asia Pacific Pty Limited, part of international ticketing platform SeatGeek. Click here to contact SeatGeek Asia Pacific via their entry in…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Events / Sport / Ticketing


TicketSearch Pty Ltd

TicketSearch is focused on providing businesses, organisations, and venues with affordable, efficient, and powerful self-managed ticketing solutions. The organisation has offices in Australia, New…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Technology / Ticketing / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business