New global partnership to boost resilience for half a billion people by restoring 125,000 square kilometers of tropical coral reefs

On October 3, 2023, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI)—a network including 45 countries who represent over 75% of the world’s coral reefs—launched the Coral Reef Breakthrough, in partnership with the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and the High-Level Climate Champions (HLCC).

The Coral Reef Breakthrough aims to restore and secure the future of at least 125,000 square kilometers of shallow-water tropical coral reefs with investments of at least $12 billion (USD).

This would help boost the resilience of more than half a billion coastal people globally by 2030.

In addition to broad-based climate action, the Coral Reef Breakthrough will be achieved through:

  • Action point 1: Stop drivers of loss: Mitigate local drivers of loss including land-based sources of pollution, destructive coastal development, and overfishing;
  • Action point 2: Double the area of coral reefs under effective protection: Bolster resilience-based coral reef conservation efforts by aligning with and transcending global coastal protection targets including 30by30;
  • Action point 3: Accelerate Restoration: Assist the development and implementation of innovative solutions at scale and climate smart designs that support coral adaptation to impact 30% of degraded reefs by 2030; and
  • Action point 4: Secure investments of at least USD 12 billion by 2030 from public and private sources to conserve and restore these crucial ecosystems.

Achieving the Coral Reef Breakthrough means preventing the functional extinction of one of the world’s most threatened, yet most valuable, and most biodiverse, ecosystems.

The Breakthrough was launched through the ICRI 37th General Meeting and developed with support from the Government of Sweden and the Principality of Monaco.

Coral reefs exist in more than 100 countries and territories, and support at least 25% of marine species; they are integral to sustaining Earth’s vast and interconnected web of marine biodiversity and provide ecosystem services valued up to $9.9 trillion annually.

More than one billion people, including vulnerable coastal communities, whose daily lives are inextricably linked with life below water, depend healthy coral reefs.

They essential to the security, resilience, and climate adaptation of many of the most climate-vulnerable nations on Earth, yet the functional existence of these critical ecosystems is at stake due to the climate crisis and other anthropogenic stressors.

The window for protecting these ecosystems is closing rapidly.

The Coral Reef Breakthrough is grounded on science-based, measurable, and achievable goals for state and non-state actors to collectively conserve, protect, and restore coral reefs at the scale that is needed to secure the future of these vital ecosystems and their critical contributions to humanity.

Setting the first global targets for coral reefs, the Breakthrough will be realized by catalyzing public and private financial flows and supporting sustainable conservation investments.

These will activate and enhance proven solutions and mobilize aligned actions to achieve the Sharm-El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda’s Ocean and Coastal Impact System targets and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), adopted at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Photo credit: Ocean Image Bank / Tracey Jennings.

See ICRI website.

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