‘Citizen Reef’ is a campaign by LADbible Australia, which has the backing of Groundswell’s, Jamie Durie, Ian Thorpe, Osher Gunsberg, Dacre Montgomery, Bondi Hipsters and the Australian Marine Conservation Society and others, with the aim of making the Great Barrier Reef an Australian Citizen and thereby, granting her protections that would save her from harm.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism and she’s being damaged by the effects of climate change. Awarding her citizenship gives her the same rights and protections as any other Australian citizen, including freedom from torture, the highest standard of health and most importantly, the right to life. LADbible Australia and public figures are appealing to the concerned public to get behind the environmental awareness campaign by signing a petition that will directly alert the Department of Home Affairs of their support. The petition can be found here .
The campaign aims to shed light on the significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef’s survival caused by rising sea temperatures associated with carbon pollution. National Geographic in 2018 declared that half of the Great Barrier Reef had been bleached to death since 2016.
Imogen Zethoven AO, strategic director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said: “We’re excited to be part of Citizen Reef. LADBible’s campaign to make the Great Barrier Reef a citizen is what she really needs right now after being hit pretty hard by climate change in the past few years. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is already quintessentially Aussie – she’s big and beautiful, iconic and diverse, and she should be made a citizen so she has a right to a long and healthy life.”
Protecting the GBR is the top environmental issue for Australians according to WWF research which shows 94% of respondents said its protection is important.
LADbible Australia General Manager, Joe Summers said: “We know our audience has a vested interest in the health of the environment and the planet, as do we all. The GBR has reached a critical point in time for her own survival, and we’ve decided to play a role in that fight. With the strength of our audience behind us we know we can make a difference. We are now asking the Australian Government to stand up with us and declare its commitment to protecting the GBR by granting her the same rights as any other citizen of Australia.
A Deloitte report commissioned by the GBR Foundation revealed the GBR has an economic, social and icon asset value of $56 billion, contributes $6.4 billion to the Australian economy and generates 64,000 jobs.
In early 2017, in a world-first, a New Zealand river was granted the same legal rights as a human being. Local Maori tribe of Whanganui in the North Island fought for the recognition of their river – the third largest in New Zealand. Gerrard Albert, the lead negotiator for the Whanganui iwi [tribe]. “We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as in indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management.”
The new status of the river means if someone abused or harmed it the law now sees no differentiation between harming the tribe or harming the river because they are one and the same.
Let’s hope Australia sets a similar precedent with the Great Barrier Reef.
LADbible is a multi-platform social impact movement with a 120 million strong audience of mostly 16 to 34 year olds worldwide. The group has a track record in award-winning social impact campaigns.