The UN cultural organization UNESCO has urged Germany and the Netherlands to refrain from oil and gas extraction, as well as salt production in the Wadden Sea and its immediate surroundings, which has been declared a World Heritage Site.
UNESCO said there is an "incompatibility between extractive activities and World Heritage status" during an extended session of its World Heritage Committee in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
The organization stated that drilling tests and the further development of such projects should be avoided. UNESCO urged that measures be taken to protect the Wadden Sea when laying new power lines to offshore wind farms.
Among the projects criticized is the Ternaard gas project, in which a gas field is to be drilled under the Wadden Sea from the Dutch mainland.
Located in the immediate vicinity of the World Heritage Site off the Ems estuary and the islands of Borkum and Schiermonnikoog is the gas extraction project "GEMS – Gateway to the Ems."
In addition, the oil and gas company Wintershall Dea wants to produce more oil in the part of the Wadden Sea next to the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein.
In addition, there is an authorization in the Netherlands to extract 32 million tons of salt from the bed of the Wadden Sea.
Environmental Action Germany (DUH), the Dutch environmental organization Waddenvereniging and World Heritage Watch demanded an immediate stop to environmentally and climate-damaging projects in the Wadden Sea following UNESCO's critical statement.
"A globally unique landscape is being destroyed by the fossil-fuel lobby, and the responsible governments are standing idly by," said DUH national director Sascha Müller-Kraenner.
Under the guise of the energy crisis, they want to allow new fossil fuel drilling in the Wadden Sea, but the projects are not necessary for energy security and endanger climate and species protection, said Müller-Kraenner.
"New mining projects will add to ongoing subsidence of the ocean floor, using fossil fuels will add to ongoing climate change and sea level rise," said Waddenvereniging spokesman Frank Petersen.
"Knowing that this in clear contradiction to keeping the World Heritage status should serve as a crystal clear red light for the Dutch government to stop permitting such projects," concluded Petersen.
- oil and gas extraction
- Wadden Sea