Nearly 50 percent of all natural world heritage sites are menaced by detrimental industrial activities, such as mineral, oil and gas exploration, according to a new report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Percentages can decrease due to the Paris Agreement, which will be signed by world leaders on the Earth Day, April 22.
Mechtild Rössler, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center has made a call to action to the civil society, the private sector, and governments, to safeguard World Heritage Sites, saying that it is everyone’s responsibility to conserve common heritage.
“WWF’s report comes at a time when governments and the private sector around the world are stepping up their action against harmful extractive uses. 2015 saw an unprecedented level of action from governments and the private sector around the world.” He added in a statement.
Mining, oil, and gas represent the 7th most harmful factor for World Heritage properties, of which 84 percent are natural and mixed properties, especially in Africa regions, said the UNESCO on Wednesday. Other harmful elements include shipping routes and toxic waste.
WWF: “Climate action is more than words on paper”
Marco Lambertini, Director General at the WWF International, said that sustainable development goals that were determined last year by dozens of countries demonstrate that governments are recognizing social, economic and environmental development as an inseparable whole.
He stressed that nearly 50 percent of all natural World Heritage Sites are menaced by industrial activities, including oil and gas exploration and extraction, mining, illegal logging, construction of large-scale water use.
“The well-being of communities is being put at risk by harmful industrial activities that degrade the environment, and that compromise the ability of these places to provide economic and fundamental to local populations, as well as to our global community.” Said Marco Lambertini in a statement.
Countries involved in the Paris Agreement, account for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Lambertini said that worldwide joint action, committed to sustainable development and climate action, can “secure the future for world heritage sites”.
The responsibility of achieving such a challenge lies with the governments that approve or disapprove concessions, with companies that create new projects and the financial institutions that support them, he said in a statement published Tuesday.
Lambertini also added that governments have to commit with the preservation of those sites that, because of their “outstanding universal value”, were declared World Heritage Sites; and businesses have to support their conservation.
Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders to a signing ceremony on Earth Day: China, the U.S., and India have already confirmed attendance
Late January, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders to a signing ceremony to ratify the Paris Agreement. The meeting will take place at UN Headquarters in New York City on April 22, same day as Earth day.
The Paris Agreement aims to reduce Earth temperatures to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Mr. Ban Ki-moon said on January that the agreement provides a “solid foundation” for the low-carbon transformation of the global economy, offering a greater and healthier future to everyone.
Thursday last week, the United States and China confirmed attendance to the U.N. signing ceremony, after President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in Washington. It is calculated that both countries are responsible for 40 perfect of greenhouse gas emissions.
India said on April 2 that it will attend to the ceremony, according to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. He added that even when India is not part of the problem, it wants to be part of the solution.