Climate Justice Programme, 11 July 2006 – The World Heritage Committee, holding its annual meeting in Lithuania on July 8-16, is being urged by an international coalition of lawyers and environmentalists to back moves to protect some of the world’s most outstanding natural sites from climate change.

Climate Justice Programme, 11 July 1006

World Heritage Committee Annual Meeting: 8-16 July, Vilnius, Lithuania

The World Heritage Committee, which is holding its annual meeting in Lithuania, is being urged, by an international coalition of lawyers and environmentalists, to back moves to protect some of the world’s most outstanding natural sites, including Mount Everest, from climate change.

The World Heritage Committee is due to discuss calls for action to protect five World Heritage Sites that are under threat from climate change. The sites are Mount Everest (glaciers), the Peruvian Andes (glaciers), US and Canadian glaciers, the Great Barrier and Belize Barrier (coral) Reefs.

At its 29th session in July 2005, the Committee asked a group of experts to report to it at Vilnius on climate change and world heritage, after four petitions had been submitted to add sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger because of climate change. A fifth petition was submitted in February 2006.

The World Heritage Convention legally requires all countries to pass sites listed under the convention intact to future generations. But campaigners argue that unless urgent action is taken, this will not happen. The campaigners are calling on the World Heritage Committee to:

  • Send qualified observers to each of the five sites to evaluate the extent of the threat each site faces, and propose measures to protect the site;
  • Remind nations that have signed up to the World Heritage Convention that they have a legal duty to protect World Heritage Sites. This must include a significant reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions;

Contacts and more information:

  • Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, Nepal (SNP)
    Petition link: http://www.climatelaw.org.
    Contacts: Prakash Sharma, Pro Public/Friends of the Earth Nepal: + 9771 4269 828+ 9771 4269 828 (GMT + 5h, 45m) propublic@wlink.com.np;
    Catherine Pearce, Friends of the Earth International: + 44
    07811 28364107811 283641 (mobile) (GMT +1h).
  • Huascaran National Park, Peru (HNP):
    Petition link: http://www.climatelaw.org.
    Contact: Carlos Antonio Martin Soria (Carlos Soria),
    Foro Ecologico del Peru, carsoria@ec-red.com (GMT -5h)
  • Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Canada-USA (Waterton):
    Petition link: http://www.climatelaw.org.
    Contacts: Erica Thorson, Clinical Professor of Law, International Environmental Law Project,
    Oregon, US: + 1 503 768 6715+ 1 503 768 6715 (GMT -8h) ejt@lclark.edu;
    Kassie R. Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity,
    California, US + 1 760 366 2232+ 1 760 366 2232 x 302 (GMT -8h)
    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org
  • Great Barrier Reef, Australia (GBR):
    Great Barrier Reef legal report
    (which the Committee treated as a danger-listing petition)
    Contacts: Contacts: Louise Clifton, Media Officer,
    Greenpeace Australia Pacific, + 61 438 04 041(GMT +11h);
    Ilona Millar, Principal Solicitor, Environmental
    Defender’s Office Ltd (NSW)
    ilona.millar@edo.org.au (GMT +11h).
  • Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, Belize (BBR):
    Petition link: http://www.climatelaw.org.
    Contacts: Candy Gonzalez, Vice President, Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO),
    + 501 824-2476+ 501 824-2476 (GMT -6h) belpobz@starband.net; and/or
    Melanie McField, Coordinator, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative,
    Smithsonian Institution mcfield@healthyreefs.org or mcfieldm@si.edu.

Further contacts and detailed briefing:

  • Peter Roderick, co-Director, Climate Justice Programme,
    + 44 20 7388 3141+ 44 20 7388 3141 (office); + 44 7796 340 893+ 44 7796 340 893 (mobile) (GMT +1h)
  • Catherine Pearce, Friends of the Earth International,
    +44 (0)7811 283 641+44 (0)7811 283 641 (mobile) (GMT +1h)
  • Neil Verlander, Friends of the Earth Press Office (London),
    + 44 20 7566 1674+ 44 20 7566 1674 (GMT +1h)