Unesco's World Heritage Committee is meeting in mid-July, and two of its agenda items are proposals to place existing world heritage sights in Italy and Australia on its 'endangered species' list.
The proposal, to be discussed at a meeting in China, would place Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the Italian city of Venice on its list of World Heritage in Danger, a status that could lead to losing heritage status altogether if issues are not corrected.
In Venice's case, the major issue is the continued use of the city's fragile canals and the lagoon itself by huge cruise ships that have been attacked not only as a source of visual pollution, towering over the city's buildings, but also because their wakes and wastes endanger the foundations of the city's buildings, which rest on a dense network of piles going back centuries. Local agitation has kept the issue in the news and the Italian government has promised to keep the big ships away...but not just yet.
Australia, meanwhile, is protesting the decision to discuss the status of the chain of coral islands and reefs that are among the country's hottest attractions and generators of tourism revenue. The Unesco committee is concerned that even with more limited access for visitors, climate change is accelerating a process in which the reef is dying as an ecosystem. While acknowledging that the delicate structure is in danger, the government does not think the problem warrants de-listing, but the discussion by the committee is welcomed by the Australian Marine Conservation Society.