4 5 DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 Opening Lines BELIZE DELEGATION VISITS AUSTRALIA’S GREAT BARRIER REEF IN EFFORT TO BOLSTER EXPERTISE INWORLD HERITAGE CONSERVATION A high-level delegation from Belize vis- ited Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from November 26 to 30, 2018 to exchange best practices on leveraging their reef’s iconic World Heritage status, to protect their fragile ecosystems from climate impacts, and secure sustainable livelihoods, jobs and income for local communities. The visit follows a series of landmark conservation actions that led to the removal of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve Sys- tem from the List of World Heritage in Danger earlier this year. As the world’s most extensive coral reef eco- system, the Great Barrier Reef is a globally out- standing and significant entity. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981 and covers an area larger than Italy. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is one of the most pristine reef ecosystems in the Western Hemisphere and was referred to as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies” by Charles Darwin. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996. Each World Heritage property makes a sig- nificant contribution to its country’s economy. About 200,000 Belizeans –half of Belize’s population– are dependent on the reef for their livelihoods and 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the reef. The Great Barrier Reef generates on aver- age 60,000 jobs and makes an annual contribu- tion of 6.4 billion AUS dollars to Australia’s GDP. “A sustainable use of our reef which brings jobs and income to the local community is es- sential if we wish to conserve our World Heri- tage site for future generations.We could not have done this without our prestigious World Heritage designation,” said Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize. The Belize delegation was led by Faber and joining them were representatives from Aus- tralia’s Ministries of Environment and Foreign Affairs and Trade. The delegation met with sustainable tourism operators and organiza- tions, QLD government officials, scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and other institutions. Central to their discussion was an exchange of best practices in building sustainable reef communities. Both World Heritage sites share a desire to step up their leadership in building reef strategies that protect these fragile ecosys- tems in a rapidly changing climate, but, simul- taneously, secure sustainable income for the communities that depend on them. The visit marks a highlight of the 2018 Inter- national Year of the Reef, an initiative from the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), jointly co-chaired by the governments of Monaco, Aus- tralia, and Indonesia until mid-2020.