Mr and Mrs
Hillary with Lakpa Sherpa and her 15 year old sister who summited
working group will be set up to look at the threat that climate change poses
to World Heritage sites across the world and develop a response strategy to
deal with it, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed in Durban,
South Africa today. But UNESCO did not make any decision on whether to put the
Everest (Sagarmatha) National Park and two other sites on the UN danger list.
and lawyers are calling on the WHC to reconsider listing
other sites at next year’s meeting, when the working group reports. They have
also welcomed the overarching climate change initiative, but are demanding
urgent action to protect these sites for future generations, as legally
required by the World Heritage Convention.
World Heritage Committee recognised today that “the impacts of climate change
are affecting many and are likely to affect many more World Heritage
properties” and that “early action” is needed to respond to these threats. The
Committee accepted a UK proposal to host a meeting of the expert group –
including the petitioners – which will report next year, on a response to the
Heritage Convention legally requires all countries to pass intact World
Heritage Sites to future generations. Campaigners argue
will not happen unless urgent action is taken to stop the melting of the
Himalayas and to prevent many glacial lakes from bursting, threatening the
lives of thousands of people and destroying a unique and irreplaceable
environment. The campaign is organised by Pro Public (Friends of the Earth
Nepal) and the Climate Justice Programme, and is supported by Friends of the
Earth International and notable individuals including Sir Edmund Hillary ,
Sir David Attenborough, Sir Chris Bonington and Reinhold Messner.
groups, including the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and
Foro Ecológico del Perú, are also calling for coral reefs in Belize and
glaciers in Peru to be added to the danger list as a result of climate change.
Sharma, Executive Director of Pro Public (Friends of the Earth Nepal) said:
“It is a positive sign that the committee has considered our request to
address the impact of climate change on the Sagarmatha National Park and has
decided to form an expert group to work on recommendations for action.
However, the problems created by climate change in the park are immense. Large
glacial lakes are forming which could burst at any moment, destroying the
lives andlivelihoods of local people. Waiting until the next meeting before
taking action may be too late.
majestic beauty of Everest is lost, future generations would never forgive
UNESCO for its inaction. It is time for the committee to
immediate action to protect all those World Heritage Sites which are being,
and will be, impacted by climate change.”
Roderick, Director of the Climate Justice Programme said: “Although these
sites have not yet been placed on the UN danger list, we are delighted that at
long last climate change is on the World Heritage Committee agenda, and that
this issue will hopefully now be properly addressed. We appreciate the efforts
of the UK delegation and the interventions of new Zealand, the Netherlands,
Portugal and St Lucia in helping to make this happen.
“Unfortunately the work of heritage bodies is seriously undermined by the
failure of the developed world to reduce their greenhouse gas
We can devise management plans until we are blue in the face, but the legal
obligation to pass World Heritage Sites intact on to future generations will
not be met without big cuts in emissions.”
the Earth International’s climate campaigner Catherine Pearce said: “Climate
change is already happening, and will become an even bigger threat in the
coming years. UNESCO must wake up to the danger, and push countries to
urgently cut their greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect the best parts
of the planet.”
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