Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1981
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/154/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/154/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
March 2012: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/154/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015
On 30 January 2015, the State Party submitted the state of conservation report for the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/154/documents/. The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014 (2014 GBR Outlook Report) and the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (2050 LTSP) were submitted on 29 September 2014 and 10 March 2015 respectively. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also received information from a wide range of other sources, including a range of Australian and international NGOs, scientists, community organizations and research institutions. In addition, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN were invited to a series of consultation meetings with the State Party and one meeting of the plan’s Partnership Group.
The 2014 GBR Outlook Report concludes that climate change, poor water quality from land-based run off, impacts from coastal development and some remaining impacts of fishing are the major threats to the property’s future health. As a result of these cumulative impacts, further exacerbated by recent major storms and floods that are expected to become more frequent, key habitats, species and ecosystem processes in the central and southern inshore areas have deteriorated. Analysis confirms that biodiversity and ecosystem health in the northern third of the property is in good condition. The report further concludes that the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is “poor, has worsened since 2009 and is expected to further deteriorate in the future” and that substantial reductions of pressures are required to prevent the projected declines and improve the property's capacity to recover from the effects of climate change.
The subsequent 2050 LTSP aims to address key threats to the property. It defines a comprehensive vision for the conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) over the next 35 years. The plan proposes 7 major outcomes for the property to be delivered by 2050 and sets out concrete actions that are linked to defined targets by 2020 and medium-term objectives by 2035. The plan was subject to public consultation, including a multi-stakeholder partnership group. The plan states that adequate finance will be provided and outlines proposals for an investment framework that will be established in 2015-16 to determine investment priorities and optimization of resource allocation across all partners to ensure effective implementation. Implementation will be overseen by the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum, supported by an intergovernmental operational committee, and will be guided by a Reef Advisory Committee and an independent expert panel. The plan's performance will be subject to a 5-yearly evaluation and adaptation based on the findings of the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Reports.
The State Party further reports progress towards the Reef Plan targets based on the latest water quality Report Card and a reduction in the scale of proposed Abbot Point port development.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The 2014 GBR Outlook report confirms the scale of major challenges facing the property, and underlines the need for a significant response to be put in place by the State Party. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee welcome the progress achieved by the State Party towards such a response through the 2050 LTSP, including the overarching strategy for the management of the property. The establishment of such a plan through a multi-stakeholder process at the scale of the property is in itself a major technical and policy achievement. Measures that represent significant progress in responding to key World Heritage Committee requests include:
The next phase of work needs to deliver the effective inception of the plan, and build the momentum for sustained implementation. A number of issues are still to be completed. A number of commitments within the 2050 LTSP require translation into legislation including, among others, restrictions on port development and its associated activities such as the disposal of dredged material. Sustained, adequate financing is central to the plan's performance. The proposed investment framework should be established as a matter of priority and should provide a convincing demonstration that the necessary investment to achieve the plan is being made and will be sustained.
Considering the fundamental importance of successful implementation of the 2050 LTSP and the work to be completed, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to submit an update on its progress for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, and taking note that if the anticipated progress is not being made this should also be reviewed by the Committee at its session in 2017.
Considering that the first set of targets of the 2050 LTSP are expected to be reached by 2020, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee requests a report on the state of conservation of the property for review at its 44th session in 2020. The report should detail the results achieved for each target and link progress to the scientific findings of the anticipated 2019 GBR Outlook. It is essential that the 2050 LTSP delivers its anticipated results in order to confirm that the property does not face ascertained or potential danger to its OUV.
Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.7
The World Heritage Committee,