WHEN an archipelago famed for its flora and fauna is deemed to have escaped from environmental peril, that might sound like good news for anyone with an interest in the fate of life on Earth. But UNESCO’s recent clean bill of health for the Galapagos islands was greeted with dismay by many of the people who care passionately about the place.
The decision to remove the islands from the list of “world heritage sites in danger”—taken at a meeting in Brasília that concluded on August 3rd—was only one of several signs that the UN agency is bending its own rules under pressure from member states. And since UNESCO is supposed to be an unprejudiced protector of the whole world’s built and natural environment, such slipping standards are not merely of concern in remote Pacific islands.
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