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World Heritage Convention

Decision 45 COM 7B.13
Great Barrier Reef (Australia) (N 154)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7 and 44 COM 7B.90 adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and extended 44th (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes with utmost concern that the property has suffered from four mass coral bleaching events since 2016, as a result of climate change, including an unprecedented event in 2022 occurring for the first time in a traditionally cooler La Niña period, and appreciates the efforts to control the Crown-of-Thorn Starfish outbreaks;
  4. Notes with appreciation the State Party’s initial commencement of the implementation of the 2022 Reactive Monitoring mission recommendations, and requests the State Party to extend these efforts to fully implement all the recommendations of the mission, including, as a matter of utmost priority:
    1. Identify priority areas of grazing land for gully repairs and associated restoration and remediation activities, and significantly scale up restoration activities,
    2. Require proposed and in-progress dam developments to show clear alignment with water quality improvement for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR),
    3. Increase significantly the scale and pace of adoption, monitoring and enforcement of best management practice in sugarcane and banana farming,
    4. Prioritise the protection of remnant native vegetation across the GBR catchments,
    5. Ensure Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP) water quality targets, are sufficient and implemented to reverse the negative trend in water quality,
    6. Review and strengthen the Reef 2050 Plan to include clear government commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions consistent with the efforts required to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, to limit the impacts of climate change on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) (recommended by the March 2022 mission to be achieved by 31 December 2022),
    7. Ensure that the carbon and water quality related credit schemes being deployed in the GBR catchments deliver overall net benefits to the OUV of the property,
    8. Continue support for scientific research and increase financial resources to enable deployment of climate adaptation mechanisms,
    9. Accelerate the implementation of the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy,
    10. Phase out destructive gillnet fishing in the property;
  5. Welcomes the State Party’s significantly increased actions in addressing climate change since the Reactive Monitoring mission, including through newly adopted legislation introducing progressive reduction targets for carbon emissions, and for the State Party’s additional commitment to set successively more ambitious emission reduction targets in alignment with efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, and also requests the State Party to revise and strengthen the Reef 2050 Plan accordingly and in alignment with the mission recommendations;
  6. Notes with serious concern the slow progress in achieving the water quality targets, in particular for fine sediment and dissolved inorganic nitrogen and also welcomes the State Party’s commitment to enact, with immediate effect, a major shift in its water quality programmes with the aim to achieve the 2025 water quality targets and to finalize the revision of the WQIP and set new 2025-2030 water quality targets by June 2025, and further requests the State Party to ensure that the commitments are fully implemented and that the anticipated 2025-2030 water quality targets are sufficiently ambitious to reverse the negative trend in water quality;
  7. Further welcomes the cancellation of the Urannah and Hells Gate dam projects due to their potential impact on the OUV of the property, and requests furthermore the State Party to require proposed and in-progress dam developments to show clear alignment with water quality improvement for the property as a condition for approval under relevant legislation, and ensure all proposed projects are assessed in line with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context;
  8. Welcomes furthermore the State Party’s commitments to, by December 2023, complete the implementation of the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy, establish a net free zone in the northern third of the property, introduce new legislation requiring independent data validation in commercial fisheries, and to ensure the property is gillnet free by June 2027 and the target maximum economic yield (60% biomass) is achieved by December 2027, and requests moreover the State Party to effectively implement the phase out of all gillnet fisheries in the property and ensure compliance with the mandatory independent data validation of vessels operating in the property introduced by the new legislation;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, a progress report on the implementation of the commitments made, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2024, considering that the urgent conservation needs of this property require a broad mobilization to preserve its OUV, including the possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decision Code
45 COM 7B.13
States Parties 1
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
2023 Great Barrier Reef
Context of Decision