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Protecting the great barrier reef

The Queensland government’s approval of the expansion of four major ports near the Great Barrier Reef would have resulted in the dredging of 51 million cubic meters of seabed material. Approximately 80% of this material would have been dumped within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site, creating new endangered species, coral disease, and reducing tourism. In response, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched a global campaign to protect the reef and its inhabitants.


We first identified the current social, economic, and environmental value of the Great Barrier Reef, looking at metrics such as the number of jobs supported by the reef, tourism revenues, and biodiversity. We compared these findings to the negative impacts and short-term economic gains from the proposed port expansions. Based on the analysis, we built a case for the reef’s protection and a set of concrete asks for the Australian government and UNESCO. In collaboration with WWF’s communications team, we also designed and executed a comprehensive outreach strategy to support the launch of the report and build global support for the protection campaign.


More than 550,000 people signed WWF’s petition asking the Australian government to adopt new reef protection legislation and UNESCO to hold Australia accountable for its World Heritage commitments to manage the reef sustainably. The petition was delivered to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, who voted to maintain pressure on Australia to deliver “effective and sustained protection” of the reef. The Australian government pledged to ban dumping of dredged seabed sediment within the World Heritage Site and to restrict megaport expansions in and near the reef.

Read more on our blog: Great Barrier Reef Under Threat from Planned Port Expansions to Export Fossil Fuels

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