UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission has announced the formal recognition of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs as a contribution to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (the ‘Ocean Decade’).
In recognition of its innovative work in leveraging a science-based approach to accelerate reef-positive investment through public-private financing, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) today endorsed the work of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and its contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.
The collaboration between the Ocean Decade and GFCR will actively seek to reinforce the science and knowledge aspects of existing and future GFCR-supported programmes, as well as identify opportunities to raise awareness of the need to enhance the co-design and co-delivery of coral reef science. Opportunities to unlock new investment for coral reef science will also be jointly pursued. The endorsement was formally announced during the 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.
“We are thrilled to formally welcome the Global Fund for Coral Reefs into the Ocean Decade community. The combined efforts of these two global initiatives will ensure that the global community has a unique opportunity to collectively identify and redress critical knowledge gaps in relation to coral reefs. We thank the Fund for its engagement in the Ocean Decade and look forward to working together to create rapid and lasting impact”, said Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.
Often best known for their exceptional beauty, coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They have an essential role to play in food security, livelihoods, and coastal protection for billions of people. Yet reefs are also one of the most vulnerable marine ecosystems. A litany of pressures including pollution and destructive fishing practices combined with the effects of ocean acidification and warming brought on by increased greenhouse gas emissions have led to recent estimates that most of the world’s coral reefs could be lost by 2030 if global warming continues at current rates.
Against the backdrop of these alarming and short-term projections, the scientific community has rallied efforts to make significant advances to identify solutions to protect reefs. However, critical physical and social science and knowledge gaps persist that hinder their deployment at scale, and a lack of access to information, technology, and skills means that solutions adapted to local conditions have not been identified in many of the world’s reef hotspots.
“As a blended finance mechanism, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs seeks to demonstrate the viability of reef-positive business approaches that deliver a return on investment, are based on sound science, and mobilize resources to conserve and restore coral reefs, upon which an estimated one billion people depend for their food security, livelihoods, and coastal protection. We are pleased to be partnering with the IOC to help achieve the UN Decade mission to catalyze ocean science solutions for sustainable development,” stated Chuck Cooper, Executive Board Chair, GFCR.
The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the Ocean Decade) aims to trigger a step change in the way that ocean science is used to support sustainable development. Focused around ten Ocean Decade Challenges, and with a strong focus on skills building and increasing access to knowledge in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, it aims to bring diverse actors around the world together to co-design and co-deliver transformative and action-oriented science. With several coral reef focused programmes and projects already underway, the Ocean Decade provides a global network for scientists, governments, NGOs, and industry to collaborate and exchange around the most urgent coral reef related science needs and create links to actors working on related issues including food security, coastal resilience, or marine pollution.
About the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR):
The Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) is the first and only blended finance initiative dedicated to coral reefs globally. The public-private partnership is driven by foundations, Member States, UN Agencies, organizations, and the private sector. The GFCR Coalition includes the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation; Prince Albert II Monaco Foundation; the Governments of Germany, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom; the Green Climate Fund; Pegasus Capital Advisors; Builders Vision; Bloomberg Philanthropies; the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF); the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); and the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA).
The GFCR coalition aims to bridge the coral reef funding gap by facilitating an innovative ‘Reef-Positive Investment Ecosystem’ with an array of financial tools designed to incubate, de-risk and unlock public and private market-based investment aligned to conservation of coral reef refugia. The GFCR provides an implementation tool for national marine biodiversity conservation and blue economic transition ambitions. Emphasis is placed on climate-resilient ecosystems that are crucial for preventing reef extinction, supporting rich biodiversity, and providing critical ecosystem services.
About the Ocean Decade:
Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.
About the IOC-UNESCO:
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development.