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Australia to invest AU$500 in Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is home to some 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of molluscs, and contributes some AU$6.4 billion annually to the country's economy.

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Australia will invest AU$500 million ($379 million) to protect the Great Barrier Reef, a minister said on Sunday.
Map of Australia, Pixabay

Australia will invest AU$500 million ($379 million) to protect the Great Barrier Reef, a minister said on Sunday.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will receive an additional AU$10 million each year from 2022-23 to “continue and expand essential work” in the Unesco World Heritage area, Efe news quoted Josh Frydenberg, the Minister for Environment and Energy, as saying.

"We are looking at a whole range of new initiatives, taking best advice of the experts, working closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ensure that the reef has its best chance into the future."
Great Barrier Reef, Pixabay

“The Turnbull Government will invest more than $500 million – the largest ever single investment – to protect the reef, secure its viability and the 64,000 jobs that rely on the Reef,” Frydenberg said.

“We are looking at a whole range of new initiatives, taking best advice of the experts, working closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ensure that the reef has its best chance into the future.”

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The Great Barrier Reef is home to some 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of molluscs, and contributes some AU$6.4 billion annually to the country’s economy.

The Great Barrier Reef began to deteriorate during the 1990s as a result of the double impact of warming seawater and increased acidity due to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (IANS)

 

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Claiming Bias, U.S.A. And Israel Pull Out Of UNESCO

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

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UNESCO, U.S.
The logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is seen druing a conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2017. VOA

The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.

The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

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UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com

The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.

USA, shutdown
Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.

In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.

The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.

In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

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Israel Flag, Pixabay

The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

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The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003. (VOA)