After laborious discussions in Brazil and with the support of 15 member-nations of the World Heritage Committee, the Galapagos Islands have been taken off of the “World Heritage in Danger” list.
In 1978, the Galapagos Islands were chosen by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site owing to its pristine ecosystem, its unique biodiversity, and its breathtaking volcanic landscape. The same Blue-footed Boobies, Galapagos Tortoises, and varieties of iguanas and finches that fascinated Charles Darwin continue to enchant natives and visitors alike. However, in 2007 under the threats of increasing tourism, immigration, and introduced species, the archipelago was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in danger. Since then, the Ecuadorian government and the Galapagos National Park have taken action to preserve the beauty and unparalleled environment of the islands.
Recently after a visit to the islands by Juca Ferreira, President of the World Heritage Committee, Brazil made a motion to remove the Galapagos Islands from the Heritage Sites in Danger list. This motion was backed by France, Mexico, Jordan, South Africa, and Barbados. The nations of Switzerland, Sweden, and Australia, while acknowledging and congratulating the work and effort carried out in the islands, maintained an opposing position in the debate.
The Minister of Environmental Issues, Marcela Aguinaga, asserted that Brazil’s motion is an “acknowledgement of the efforts and hard work that has been taking place in Ecuador to keep maintain conservation projects in the Galapagos.” The Director of the Galapagos National Park, Edwin Naula, declared that the fact that the islands have been taken off the list of Heritage Sites in danger “obligates us even more to work arduously to implement new management practices that guarantee sustainable development on the islands.”
During the 34th World Heritage Committee Session, the Ecuadorian mission has worked endlessly to expose the current situation in the Galapagos Islands, including new conservation strategies and upcoming challenges facing the projects.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was established in 1945 as an agency of the United Nations. Today, In addition to the 890 properties including cultural and natural sites currently on the World Heritage list, there are also 30 sites listed as endangered that will need the same amount of work and attention as seen in the Galapagos Islands.