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Australia: Campaign Launches for Citizenship to be Granted to the Great Barrier Reef

The health of the Great Barrier Reef, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, has deteriorated in recent decades

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Australia, Campaign, Citizenship
The Change.org petition, addressed to the Ministers of Environment, Citizenship and Home Affairs as well as Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Pixabay

A campaign was launched in Australia on Wednesday to push for citizenship to be granted to the Great Barrier Reef in order to strengthen protection of the world’s largest living organism.

The Change.org petition, addressed to the Ministers of Environment, Citizenship and Home Affairs as well as Prime Minister Scott Morrison, highlighted that the Great Barrier Reef protects the country’s coastline and contributes about 6.4 billion Australian dollars ($4.5 billion) annually to its economy, as well as supporting 64,000 jobs.

“But despite her massive contribution to Australia, she’s still denied the one basic right of every Australian citizen – the right to live,” said the petition started by social media and entertainment publisher, LADbible.

The health of the Great Barrier Reef, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, has deteriorated in recent decades due to climate change, which also caused two deadly mass coral-bleaching events in 2016 and 2017.

Australia, Campaign, Citizenship
A campaign was launched in Australia on Wednesday to push for citizenship to be granted. Pixabay

The petition said that the ecosystem is being threatened by coal mining, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change inaction and proposed that it should be given citizenship to grant it rights including the right to health, freedom from torture or inhuman treatment or punishment, the right to maintain own means of subsistence and the right to life, Efe news reported.

In a 2017 world-first, the New Zealand government granted the Whanganui River legal personhood, giving it the same legal rights as a human being.

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The Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of mollusks, began to deteriorate in the 1990s due to the double impact of water warming and increased acidity due to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (IANS)

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One-man Campaign to Collect Plastic Waste which Pollutes River

Now, at 32, he has given up his job to move back there permanently to collect plastic waste which pollutes its waters

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Campaign, Plastic, Waste
Bence Pardy, 32, carries plastic bags full of waste in Tiszafured, Hungary, Oct. 1, 2019. VOA

Bence Pardy spent his summers as a child by Hungary’s second main river, the Tisza. Waste.

Now, at 32, he has given up his job to move back there permanently to collect plastic waste which pollutes its waters.

The Tisza, one of the main rivers in eastern Europe, starts in Ukraine and flows across Hungary to join the Danube in Serbia. It then flows eastwards to empty into the Black Sea.

Over the past three months, working all day on his own from a small motorboat, Pardy has collected by hand plastic bottles from the river and its floodplains to fill 466 huge binbags.

Campaign, Plastic, Waste
Plastic waste is seen on the River Tisza near Tiszafured, Hungary, Oct. 1, 2019. VOA

In many places there are floating waste islands made up of plastic bottles already overgrown with lush vegetation.

“We used to have a house in a nearby small village and came here for the summers. There was no waste at that time… there wasn’t this craze for plastic plates and forks,” Pardy said, picking empty bottles and plastic bags from the grass and trees hanging over the slow-moving river.

He worked as a waiter in Budapest before he moved to Tiszafured, a town nearby, and now lives in a small caravan. As his money was running out, he launched a social media campaign to raise funds for the project.

During another large-scale initiative, which he also joined, volunteers removed more than 11 tons of waste from the Tisza this summer, Pardy said.

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The waste, which also includes refrigerators, car parts and even hazardous items such as needles, is mostly washed downstream from Ukraine during flooding from the waste dumps there, he said.

“I was so shocked by this that I could not continue doing and enjoying my job and now here I am,” said Pardy.

“My sad experience is that I see anglers or the people who come for holidays and they just walk past the rubbish, and even when it is at arm’s length, they don’t pick it from the river. I am astonished to see such negligence.”

Pardy said he was determined to continue what he started.

Campaign, Plastic, Waste
Bence Pardy drives his motorboat on the River Tisza near Tiszafured, Hungary, Oct. 1, 2019. VOA

“We are getting all the warning signs, and we still do not want to change. I think we are heading into an abyss at high speed… We believe we can separate ourselves from nature, and that our actions have no consequences.”

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“I am trying to be an optimist, and yes, there are all kinds of efforts, but this is still way too little.” (VOA)