We invite you to join us from around the world on Friday, 8 April 2016 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (AEST) to explore the interaction of extractives and World Heritage sites through the recent Great Barrier Reef (GBR) delisting controversy. Hear international experts on the ecology and economics of the GBR explain the roots of the conflict and explore the lessons from it for how extractive industries development can occur with minimal negative impacts. You must register on Eventbrite to participate. Registrants will receive connection information via email.

  • Convenor and moderator: Professor Saleem H. Ali, Chair in Sustainable Resource Development and Progamme Leader in Development and Governance at the Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland
  • Keynote speaker: Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Institute at the University of Queensland, Australian Laureate Fellow

Brought to you by the University of Queensland and SDSN Australia/Pacific.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest structure by volume built by living organisms on the planet. Bordering the coast of Queensland, Australia, it is a remarkable ecosystem with immense ecological and economic value.

In 1981, the reef was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site after considerable controversy in Australia because there was a concern that this may limit extractive industries development along the coast. During the past two decades, Queensland has developed enormous extractive resources including a major coal-seam gas infrastructure project near the town of Gladstone and plans to also develop one of the world’s largest coal mines led by Indian corporation Adani. Concerns about the impact the extractives sector would have on the reef in terms of pollution and increased traffic volume of cargo ships led to UNESCO deliberating a delisting of the reef as a World Heritage site in 2012. There were a series of scientific studies which were presented to support and erode this proposition. Ultimately, in 2015, the reef was granted a reprieve from UNESCO from the delisting threat – at least for now.

This case presents an important and instructive example of how extractive industries development, even in an advanced industrialized country with strict regulations, can create an environmental conflict. The webinar will have presentations by experts on the ecology and economics of extractive industries development versus alternative livelihoods such as tourism and fishing.

We will also consider the role of international organizations and “soft law” in fostering constructive change to ensure extractive industries development can occur with minimal negative impacts and more efficiently meeting the targets of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.