UNESCO Lauds Australia's Efforts to Shield Great Barrier Reef

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water

Senator Nita Green, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator for Queensland

The Hon Steven Miles MP, Queensland Premier

The Hon Di Farmer MP, Acting Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef

The Australian and Queensland governments today welcomed UNESCO's latest draft decision on the Great Barrier Reef.

​It recognises the Australian and Queensland government's continued efforts to make significant progress on climate change, water quality and sustainable fishing to protect this World Heritage icon.

We will continue to work with the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO to ensure the protection of the Reef and World Heritage properties impacted by climate change around the globe.

The draft decision will be considered at the 46th session of the World Heritage Committee in New Delhi in July.

The Australian Government has:​

  • Invested a record $1.2 billion in the Reef
  • Legislated to reach net zero, with a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 and committed to reaching 82 per cent renewable energy supply by 2030
  • Accelerated water quality improvements through $200 million for projects such as revegetation, grazing management and engineering work like gully stabilisation
  • Introduced legislation to establish an independent Environment Protection Agency and increase penalties for illegal land clearing

    Rejected a coal mine that could have direct impacts on the Reef

  • Withdrawn federal funding for dams that would have had a detrimental impact on Reef water quality
  • Doubled funding for Reef science
  • Engaged more Indigenous Rangers to manage sea country, including combatting crown of thorns starfish outbreaks, marine plastics and ghost nets

The Queensland Government has:​

  • Invested more than $1 billion since 2015 in reef protection initiatives and programs
  • Achieved a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions based on 2005 levels
  • Legislated a 75 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 2005 levels by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050
  • Legislated the $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, including an historic expansion of solar and wind power which will deliver a 90 per cent reduction of electricity emissions on 2005 levels by 2035-36
  • Committed close to $290 million to the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program to improve reef water quality
  • With the Australian Government, commenced the phase-out of gillnets in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a more than $185 million package - protecting dugongs, dolphins, sharks and turtles

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek:

"The Great Barrier Reef is part our national heritage. We have a duty to safeguard it, to care for it, and to pass it on, so our kids and grandkids can enjoy it like we do.

"Labor understands this responsibility. And we also know the world is watching us.

"Together with the Queensland Government, we are acting on climate change, improving local water quality, protecting our marine life, dealing with invasive species, and investing a record amount of money into reef programs.

"Today's draft decision is a huge win for Queensland, a huge win for the thousands of people who rely on the reef for work, and a huge win for all the plants and animals that call it home.

"We need to act on climate change. We need to protect our special places and the animals that call them home. And that is precisely what we are doing."

Quotes attributable to Queensland Premier Steven Miles:

"I'm doing what matters for Queenslanders, now and for the future, which is why protecting the Great Barrier Reef is a priority for my government.

"As Environment Minister, it was my work to protect the Great Barrier Reef from sea-dumping that prevented an "in danger" listing in 2015.

"That was one of my first acts in Government, and today's announcement is proof that my vision for the Great Barrier Reef is miles better than the alternative.

"It's why my government legislated renewable energy and emissions targets that sets out a cleaner future that will strengthen our economy, create good jobs, and deliver strong climate change action."

Quotes attributable to Acting Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, the Hon Di Farmer MP:

"The Great Barrier Reef is the jewel in Queensland's environmental crown and we recognise the importance of this breathtaking environment - for the diverse variety of species that its supports, and for the 64,000 that depend upon in communities right along the coast.

"Together with the Australian Government, we have invested more than $1 billion to protect the Reef, including committing close to $290 million to reduce sediment runoff and marine debris under the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program.

"However, this is not an area where we can afford to rest. We are committed to the ongoing protection of the Reef, working alongside the science community, industry, conservationists, the community and UNESCO to ensure this great natural wonder can be enjoyed for generations to come."

Quotes attributable to Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator Nita Green:

"We welcome the latest draft decision from the World Heritage Committee, which recognises the Australian and Queensland government's efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

"It is welcome news for Reef communities and those Queenslanders who call the Reef home.

"The draft decision recognises our governments have made significant commitments to protect the Reef and we are delivering on those commitments.

"While we welcome this decision, we know there is always more work to do. Working with our partners, agencies and stakeholders, we will continue managing threats to the Reef and supporting global efforts to combat climate change to ensure the Reef remains in safe hands."

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