The Great Barrier Reef will not join the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) endangered heritage list, after Australia and 11 countries applied pressure on the organization to reconsider.

Friday’s decision comes after Australia’s Environmental Minister, Sussan Ley, joined forces with 11 international ambassadors in June to lobby against UNESCO’s decision to place the reef on the list. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the prospect of the reef being on the list as “absolutely appalling.”

While it was spared from being added to the list this year, the UN body said the decision would be reviewed in February 2022, as its ecosystem was still a victim of ever-worsening climate change. The 2,300km-long (1,400-mile-long) reef experienced three major mass bleaching events in 2016, 2017, and 2020, due to an increase in ocean temperatures.

Considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it had almost been placed on the endangered list in 2015. UNESCO considered the speed of its degradation to be extremely alarming – it has lost 50% of its coral since 1995.

To be considered a candidate for the UNESCO ‘danger list’, a heritage site must be at risk of losing its status due to human or environmental factors, such as war, over-development, or natural disasters.

Australia boasts 20 other heritage sites on the UNESCO world heritage list, including the Sydney Opera House, Fraser Island, and the Blue Mountains.

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