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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

7 May 2002

Australia and UNESCO Sign Pact to Protect World Heritage

A new agreement between Australia and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will promote World Heritage sites and encourage the highest standards of World Heritage management in the Asia-Pacific region.

In this thirtieth anniversary year of the World Heritage Convention, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp and the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on World Heritage issues in the Asia-Pacific.

"This Memorandum will boost international efforts for the conservation of World Heritage in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific area is under-represented on the World Heritage List and a number of countries in the region have only recently joined the World Heritage Convention," Dr Kemp said.

"This Memorandum will help Australia and UNESCO work together in partnership with regional Nations in promoting the Convention and managing cultural and natural values in this heritage-rich part of our planet.

"Since its adoption thirty years ago, Australia has always strongly supported the World Heritage Convention. This agreement will make our World Heritage related experience, skills and resources available to our regional neighbours.

"Pacific Island countries have places of outstanding heritage value, but only one site, East Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands, has been nominated and included on the World Heritage list. Australia has already provided expertise and financial assistance for heritage protection and identification projects in Vanuatu and Samoa. Today's agreement will provide a framework under which we will be better placed to help develop expertise and management plans in the region.

"Australia is already making available its world class management experience. The Wet Tropics Management Authority is helping Indonesia develop a comprehensive management plan and train staff to protect the recently listed Lorentz National Park in Irian Jaya.

"These sites are important not only to the countries in which they are situated, but also to the global community. The Howard Government is pleased to be contributing to the protection of these sites outside our national boundaries so that current and future generations of Australians are be able to experience them and know that these unique places are properly protected," Dr Kemp said.

Mr Matsuura is in Australia for discussions with Ministers and officials on issues of key regional interest, and to further develop the already close cooperative links between UNESCO and Australia.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

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