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July 03, 2019

UNESCO takes action on Warragamba Dam wall

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has asserted that any new dam proposals are incompatible with world heritage status at its annual meeting in Azerbaijan today. The Committee has said that raising Warragamba Dam wall and intermittently flooding large areas of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area would “likely impact on its Outstanding Universal Value”.

The World Heritage Committee has also placed a caveat on the dam approval, requiring that Australia submits the environmental impact statement for review to the World Heritage Committee before any final approvals are made.


When a country nominates an area for World Heritage status it undertakes to conserve its “outstanding universal value” for future generations. It is therefore of critical importance that the Committee has required a rigorous assessment of environmental effects both above and below the dam wall with the purpose of avoiding any impact on the outstanding universal values of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Speaking at today’s session of the World Heritage Committee meeting, former NSW Environment Minister Bob Debus challenged the NSW Government to take its environmental responsibilities seriously.

“On the evidence available so far, the NSW Government has treated the protection of outstanding universal value in a world heritage area as little more than an irritating afterthought. The World Heritage Committee has now moved the issue to centre stage.

“The NSW Government’s statements so far presume that the population living on the floodplain will be greatly increased. It has so far demonstrated very little interest in a rigorous assessment of alternative strategies for flood mitigation, urban planning and water supply, even though strategies clearly exist.”

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