Great Barrier Reef tourism: caught between commerce and conservation alarm

Source: The Guardian

More people than ever are coming to see the reef and those who make a living showing it off want the world to know it’s still a natural wonder. But they worry about its future, and that of their 64,000-strong industry

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‘Possibly more famous than Australia’: Tourism operators say much of the Great Barrier Reef is still healthy and worth visiting despite bleaching in many areas. Photograph: Daniela Dirscherl/Getty Images/WaterFrame RM

In the dark clouds gathering over the future of the Great Barrier Reef, there has been a small silver lining for the people who make their living showcasing the natural wonder.

When the reef was rocked by an unprecedented second mass bleaching event in the space of a year, the coral hardest-hit by heat stress lay mostly in the tourist-heavy latitudes between Cairns and Townsville.

But despite last year’s damage compounded by new cases dotted across 800 reefs in a 1,500km stretch, not a single reef tourism operator has been forced to seek out new ground to take visitors.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which licenses operators to visit designated reef sites, confirmed it has received one request to change a permit. And that was not because of bleaching but Cyclone Debbie further south, whichdamaged that other hub of reef tourism, the Whitsundays after it escaped the bleaching.

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Supporting Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean

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This initiative saeeks explicit support from Antarctic tour operators and/or tourism industry bodies (such as the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators – IAATO) for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the international body tasked with the conservation of marine life in that region.
In an increasingly small, human-dominated world all actors have a role to play to preserve remaining wild spaces including the ocean. This includes the tourism industry, tour operators, as well as tourism company staff and the tourists themselves. LT&C opens opportunities for these actors to take tangible action towards conservation, for instance by communicating directly to decision makers the importance of protecting marine environments and preserving wild spaces.
CCAMLR, the international body tasked to manage Antarctic marine life, began discussions on the adoption of a representative network of Marine Protected Areas in the early 2000s. In 2009, CCAMLR established the South Orkney Islands Southern Shelf MPA, a region covering 94,000 km2 in the South Atlantic. In 2011 it agreed on a “General framework for the establishment of CCAMLR MPAs.”
MPAs would further the conservation objective of the 1982 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. It would also be in accordance with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, acknowledged in the decision at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to conserve 10% of marine and coastal areas through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas by 2020.

Further Information

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Learning Briefs from Mountain EbA Programme, including Role of Sustainable Tourism

b6dd5ff68d44f656bb9fbcf17bb11a41ba1cd189e9a4d8a678pimgpsh_fullsize_distrThese learning briefs, produced by UNDP, draw together experiences and lessons learned from working on EbA within the global Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Mountain Ecosystems Programme from 2011 to 2015. The content also draws on lessons generated by the broader global EbA community of practice. The briefs are designed for practitioners, including local government representatives, civil society organizations and other actors working on climate change issues. They will also be useful for policy makers and donors engaged in planning and allocation of resources for adaptation action.
 
Learning Brief 1 provides an introduction to Ecosystem-based Adaptation.
Learning Brief 2 makes the case for EbA by presenting how it can generate multiple environmental, social and economic benefits, and that benefitting from a wide range of ecosystem services is closely correlated with communities’ degree of resilience to challenges.
Learning Brief 3 highlights how cost-benefit analysis (CBA) can be used to make the economic case for EbA. Proving the cost effectiveness of EbA measures is essential to making the case for EbA to stakeholders, ranging from local communities and planners to national level decision-makers and donors.
Learning Brief 4 highlights how the Programme has made the case for the policy changes that will need to happen at community, district, regional, national and global levels to bring about this shift in scale;  andthe case for long-term, sustained financing for EbA through public finance, incentive schemes and Payments for Ecosystem Services.
Information provided in Learning Briefs 2-4 are based on information from the Programme’s legacy report, Making the Case for Ecosystem-based Adaptation: The Global Mountain EbA Programme in Nepal, Peru and Uganda, which is available here.
The photo essay for the Lima town of Tanta, one of the most vulnerable to climate change according to environmental impact studies, indicate the role of sustainable tourism.
Tanta is located in the Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve in Peru. Vicuña management associated with the administration of livestock is one of the specific EbA measures in this geographical area. Such a practice promotes the restoration of natural pastures and wetlands and the production of animal fibers, prevents soil erosion, contributes to water regulation, and also creates employment opportunities while boosting tourism
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Photo Essay found here:  https://undp.exposure.co/highland-rodeo

EUCC Presentation: Dissemination of Environmental Information under Aarhus Convention, UN Sustainable Development Goals, and E-Governance for Sustainability

The presentation, Dissemination of Environmental Information under Aarhus Convention, UN Sustainable Development Goals, and E-Governance for Sustainability, was made by Dr. Magdalena A. K. Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate, Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC) for Fourth Meeting of the Task Force on Access to Information under the Aarhus Convention at Geneva, Palais des Nations, Salle XI, from December 8 to 10 2015 
Further information available at the website for the conference, Dissemination of Environmental Information under Aarhus Convention, UN Sustainable Development Goals, and E-Governance for Sustainability  or http://www.unece.org/env/pp/aarhus/tfai4.html#/
The presentation is available here: MAKMuir-EUCC-UNECE-AC-December9-2015-FinalVersion

SDG Compass: Consultation on A Guide for Business Action to Advance the Sustainable Development Goals

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By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor

The Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC) has been active in the development and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and particularly for the standalone oceans goal. There is now an opportunity to participate in related business action through consultations with SDG Compass, which is a guide on business action to advance the UN SDGs.

The second draft of SDG Compass was released for public consultation, and the consultation will run until 31 July 2015. Feedback is being sought on the following documents:

  • The SDG Compass Guide. Please note that the guide’s Annex includes two examples of 2-page SDG references (SDG 4 and SDG 13). 2-pagers will be developed for each SDG towards the final publication of the guide.
  • An inventory of existing business indicators mapped against the SDGs
  • An inventory of existing impact assessment tools mapped against the SDGs

Feedback can be provided on these documents using this link: www.collaborase.com/sdgcompass
This platform allows reviewers to provide comments on the draft, as well as view and react to other reviewers’ comments. It can also be accessed using a mobile device.

Alternatively, the documents can be downloaded below and feedback may be provided at one or more of the below email addresses.

Switch-Med Connect 2015 in Barcelona from Oct 29 – 30, 2015. Register by Sept 15th to go free

SwitchMed Connect 2015 is the first annual gathering of more than 300 stakeholders from Mediterranean countries to build synergies, exchange knowledge, and scale up eco and social innovative solutions. Organised by the EU-funded programme SWITCH-Med (Switching to more sustainable consumption and production in the Mediterranean), the event will bring together leading start-ups and entrepreneurs, industry agents, change agents, policy and financial institutions working on applications of productive, circular and sharing economies in many Mediterranean countries on 29-30 October 2015 in Barcelona. Participation is free for those who register before September 15th.
The SWITCH-MED programme aims to promote a switch of the Mediterranean economies towards sustainable consumption and production patterns and green economy, including low emission development, through demonstration and dissemination of methods that improve resource and energy efficiency. It also seeks to minimise the environmental impacts associated to the life cycle of products and services, and to promote renewable energy.
Sustainable consumption and production is also a long standing UN theme, with information found here; and one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. There it is defined as  “the use of services and related products, which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardize the needs of further generations” (Oslo symposium, 1994).
Further information: