UN: Great Barrier Reef should be on heritage ‘danger’ list

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. peril / ˈpɛr əl / (n.) – great danger

    If people living near the shore don’t evacuate before the typhoon lands, they will be in peril.

  2. damning / ˈdæm ɪŋ / (adj.) – showing clearly that someone/something is wrong

    There’s a damning report about corruption in some government offices.

  3. contaminate / kənˈtæm əˌneɪt / (v.) – to make something dirty, harmful, or poisonous

    Chemicals coming from the factory contaminate the nearby river.

  4. acidity / əˈsɪd ɪ ti / (n.) – the quality or state of being acid; the amount of acid in a substance

    If the water acidity continues to rise, aquatic animals and corals will die.

  5. toxic / ˈtɒk sɪk / (adj.) – poisonous

    Thousands of fish died due to toxic wastes from the chemical factory.


Read the text below.

A United Nations-backed mission is recommending that the Great Barrier Reef be added to the list of endangered World Heritage sites, warning that without “ambitious, rapid and sustained” climate action the world’s largest coral reef is in peril.

The warning came in a report published after a 10-day mission to the reef last March by officials from UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The reef, a living place of immense variety and beauty on the northeast coast of Australia, has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1981.

Australia’s federal government and Queensland’s state authorities should adopt more ambitious emission reduction targets, in line with international efforts to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, according to the report.

Feedback from Australian officials, both at the federal and state level, will also be reviewed before UNESCO, the U.N.’s Paris-based cultural agency, makes any official proposal to the World Heritage committee.

The text is damning about recent efforts to stop mass bleaching and prevent pollution from contaminating the reef’s natural waters, saying they have not been fast nor effective enough. Uncurbed emissions lead to increased water acidity, which can be toxic.

More money should be found to increase the water quality and stop the site’s decline, the report concludes.

In an email to AP, the U.N. cultural agency said: “In recent months, we have had a constructive dialogue (with) Australian authorities. But there is still work to be done.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The United Nations is recommending that the Great Barrier Reef be added to the list of endangered World Heritage sites. How do you think the Great Barrier Reef can benefit from this? Discuss.
  • What do you think contributes to the worsening condition of some World Heritage sites (ex. too many tourists going to the site)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What heritage sites in your country have you visited? Why do you think they were included as world heritage sites? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, what site in your country that’s not yet included in the world heritage site list deserves to be listed? Why? Discuss.