Wadden Sea World Heritage status threatened: environmental groups call for immediate halt to fossil fuel projects

Berlin/Harlingen, 13.9.2023: On the occasion of the UNESCO conference in Riyadh, Environmental Action Germany (DUH), the Dutch Waddenvereniging and World Heritage Watch are alarmed: new mining projects for fossil oil, fossil gas and salt threaten the World Heritage status and thus the protection of the Wadden Sea. The organisations are calling for an immediate halt to these environmentally and climate-damaging projects.

The demands are supported by UNESCO: The World Heritage Committee made a decision at the conference calling on the German and Dutch governments to refrain from new fossil fuel projects in the Wadden Sea. The background to this are reports by the Committee’s independent advisory panel, which sees the universal values of the Wadden Sea as no longer guaranteed in the event of further mining projects.

Sascha Müller-Kraenner, CEO of Environmental Action Germany: „A globally unique landscape is being destroyed by the fossil fuel lobby, and the responsible governments are standing idly by. Under the guise of the energy crisis they want to allow new fossil fuel drilling in the Wadden Sea. UNESCO’s condemnation must now be a wake-up call to reject all fossil fuel projects in the Wadden Sea! The activities of Wintershall Dea, ONE-Dyas & Co. endanger climate and biodiversity and are unnecessary for energy security. Only if the fossil projects are stopped quickly now, the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site can still be saved.

Frank Petersen spokesperson of Waddenvereniging: “UNESCO is ‘spot on’. Especially the Dutch government is well informed about both the scientific as well as legal doubts and worries of many scientists and independent legal experts should new mining projects be permitted. Especially a controversial new mining project right underneath the World Heritage Site cannot be permitted. 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. 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.”

Stephan Doempke, Chair of World Heritage Watch: “With its draft decision, the World Heritage Committee has issued a clear warning that the realization of the planned projects would result in its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Germany and the Netherlands are ignoring the concerns of the world community, violating international agreements, and Germany is on its way to becoming a World Heritage dirty child. Instead of continuing to nominate new sites for World Heritage, it should first protect the existing ones.”



UNESCO report, draft decision on the Wadden Sea and UNESCO analysis on the conservation status of the Wadden Sea can be found at : https://whc.unesco.org/archive/2023/whc23-45com-7B.Add2-en.pdf


Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Bundesgeschäftsführer DUH
0160 90354509


Frank Petersen, Sprecher Waddenvereniging

0031 6 2938 6517,


Stephan Doempke, Chair World Heritage Watch
0151 11674691,


030 2400867-20, presse@duh.de

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