Voluntary funding to support nature and ancient cities is thinned even more as Canada cuts its funding to UNESCO. If existing members don’t cough up about $70 million USD, trees like this one in Yemen could be under threat.
Palestine is neither a country nor a state, but Palestinian people living in the West Bank and Gaza are vying for their own sovereignty and recognition by the United Nations. Whether it is too early to do so, I can’t say. But attempts to go in the back door, as it were, are now threatening funding to world heritage sites, supported by the UN-organization UNESCO. Green Prophet’s Tafline put together an impressive list of UNESCO supported sites in the Middle East and budgetary cuts of now about 25 percent could hurt these sites, which include Egypt’s pyramids and Petra’s pink city in Wadi Rum, preserved for environmental and cultural reasons.
According to the Montreal Gazette, following a UNESCO vote that will give Palestinians a seat at the table, Canada’s federal government responded by retracting its voluntary payments which amounts to about $12 million a year.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said so yesterday at a press conference: “Under no circumstances will Canada cover the budgeting shortfall as a result of this decision and Canada has decided to freeze all further voluntary contributions to UNESCO,” Baird said, referring to a US law that would cut off funding to any UN organization that allows Palestinians as members.
The American contribution is about $60 million, at 22 percent of the organization’s total budget.
“The bottom line is there’s going to be a large hole in UNESCO’s budget because of the American law which withdraws funding and people at UNESCO should not look to Canada to fill that budget hole,” he said. “They’ll have to go to the countries who supported this resolution, that caused this budget loophole.”
As we reported earlier, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland sent a press notice on Monday that Washington would not transfer its $60 million due in November.
Any country that stops paying UNESCO for two years in a row will lose its voting rights.
Image of Socotra dragon tree in Yemen via wikipedia