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Decision : 38 COM 7B.63
Great Barrier Reef (Australia) (N 154)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.8 and 37 COM 7B.10, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the progress being made by the State Party with the Strategic Assessment and reiterates its request to the State Party to complete this work, responding fully to the past decisions of the Committee, in order to ensure that the Long-Term Plan for Sustainable Development (LTPSD) results in concrete and consistent management measures that are sufficiently robust, effectively governed and adequately financed, to ensure the overall long-term conservation of the property and its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including in view of addressing cumulative impacts and increasing reef resilience;
  4. Also welcomes the progress made by the State Party with regard to water quality, in particular the endorsement of the 2013 Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, the release of the Scientific Consensus Statement and the progress toward the Reef Plan targets as stated in the most recent Reef Plan Report Card, and encourages the State Party to sustain and where necessary expand these efforts, and their funding, to achieve the ultimate goal of no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the reef;
  5. Further welcomes the State Party’s intention to focus port development to the Priority Port Development Areas (PPDAs) and its confirmation that these will exclude the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay, and north Curtis Island, as well as the State Party’s stated commitment to “protect greenfield areas from the impacts of port development”, and urges the State Party to ensure that the finalized Queensland Ports Strategy ensures that the above mentioned commitments are fully integrated and are consistent with the LTPSD, and confirms that no port developments or associated port infrastructure are permitted outside the existing and long-established major port areas within or adjoining the property;
  6. Requests the State Party to ensure the full completion of the independent review of the institutional and management arrangements for the property, as recommended by the 2012 reactive monitoring mission, as a key input to the LTPSD, and considers that the transfer of decision-making power from Federal to State levels, before the vision, framework with desired outcomes and targets, and governance requirements to deliver the LTPSD have been adopted, is premature, and should be postponed to allow further consideration;
  7. Notes with concern the recent approvals for coastal developments in the absence of a completed Strategic Assessment and resulting Long-Term Plan for Sustainable Development, and regrets the State Party’s approval for dumping 3 million cubic metres of dredge material inside the property prior to having undertaken a comprehensive assessment of alternative and potentially less impacting development and disposal options, and also requests the State Party to ensure that the option selected does not impact OUV, and is the least damaging option available;
  8. Also notes with concern that the provisions of the Queensland Ports Strategy cannot be applied retroactively, and therefore strongly urges the State Party to:
    1. Ensure rigorously that proposed development outside PPDAs is not permitted and that developments within PPDAs do not impact individually or cumulatively the OUV of the property,
    2. Ensure that plans to be developed for each PPDA exclude from development areas identified as of conservation significance under the 2003 Great Barrier Reef Zoning plan;
  9. Recalls that the outcomes of the Strategic Assessment and resulting Long-Term Plan for Sustainable Development, as well as the findings of the second Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, should be considered at its 39th session in 2015 (Decision 36 COM 7B.8);
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, including on the implementation of actions outlined above as well as on the other points raised in the 2012 reactive monitoring mission report, and the documents relevant to the Committee’s past decisions, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to its Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
 Decisions Report
Context of Decision
Themes: Conservation, Reports, List of World Heritage in Danger, Outstanding Universal Value
States Parties: Australia
Properties: Great Barrier Reef
Year: 2014
Decision Code: 38 COM 7B.63