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UN Foundation Commits to Supporting Conservation of Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, Just Inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Statement by Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development

Washington, DC —   June 29, 2009

At the ongoing 33rd World Heritage Committee meeting in Seville, Spain, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has been added to the “List of World Heritage in Danger” due, in particular, to unsustainable tourism activities.  The following is a statement by Erika Harms on the decision:

"The preservation of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is critical to both its marine inhabitants and the local communities that depend on the site for their livelihoods.  In light of the Committee's decision, we recommit ourselves to support long-term solutions to the conservation challenges in the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site.  

The UN Foundation has worked with local tourism businesses, conservation organizations, the Belizean government, and UN bodies for the past nine years to protect Belize's majestic World Heritage site and support its local communities.  The inscription of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System to the “List of World Heritage in Danger" will not discourage tourism altogether, but rather will highlight the unique natural value of the site and support the government in its efforts to create a framework to preserve the site, support sustainable tourism in and around the site, and empower local communities to improve their livelihoods.

World Heritage sites like the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System belong to all of us, and it is vital to protect these sites and their natural and cultural heritage.  We hope that the inclusion of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System on the List of World Heritage in Danger will alert the international community to join efforts to save this unique site and respond to specific preservation needs in an efficient manner.”

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About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas, and capital to help the United Nations solve global problems.  We build partnerships, grow constituencies, mobilize resources and advocate policy changes to support the UN’s work for individual and global progress.  The UN Foundation’s work—focused on select global problems—is decreasing child mortality, improving disaster relief, protecting diverse cultures and environments, creating a clean energy future, empowering women and girls, and improving U.S.-UN relations.  For more information, visit www.UNFoundation.org.

About the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
Seven separate pieces of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System were inscribed as a serial World Heritage site in 1996, comprising 370 square miles that include 450 cayes and 3 atolls. The site is part of the Mesoamerican Reef, the second longest in the world behind only Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and boasts 500 different species of fish and 65 species of coral. 

 
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