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Environmental issues on top of the agenda for Director-General’s Australia visit

The Director-General arrives in Sydney, Australia, on 12 November for an official five-day visit. While there, she will take part in the World Parks Congress and Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, visit the Great Barrier Reef, and meet with representatives from the Federal Government, civil society and the private sector.

The World Parks Congress is a landmark event on the global conservation calendar.  It’s organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an advisory body to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, and takes place every ten years. Over 5,000 participants will attend this year’s edition, which will focus on the role of protected areas in sustainable development and the part played by World Heritage sites. Ms Bokova will make the opening address at the event, on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She will also participate in a plenary session of the IUCN with several Heads of State on why protected areas matter.

The Congress will be preceded by the Rainforest Summit, which will bring together government ministers and business leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to find practical ways to reduce rainforest loss and restore rainforest landscapes. The Director-General will take part in a panel discussion at the Summit on the ways in which civil society is working to safeguard rainforests.

Whilst in Sydney,  Ms Bokova will also hold talks with the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt, and meet up with UNESCO’s first corporate sector partner in Australia, the CEO Institute, which is supporting the Organization’s efforts to promote education for girls. The Director-General will participate in a Roundtable discussion dedicated to the theme of  “Educating girls – empowering women, transforming societies”, organized by the Institute.

In Sydney and in the nation’s capital, Canberra, the Director-General will also hold bilateral talks with several government representatives, including Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Education Minister Christopher Pyne, Commonwealth Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In the course of the visit, she will travel to the Great Barrier Reef, where she will see first-hand the significant efforts being made by the Marine Park Authority to safeguard and preserve its health, and discuss the main threats facing this iconic World Heritage Site.

This is the Director-General’s second visit to Australia, and to the Great Barrier Reef, since she was elected to office in 2009.