During CoP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative (CRRI) together with WWF, Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and International Coral Research Initiative (ICRI) hosted the premiere coral reef session: Adaptation Solutions for Coral Nations. The event focused on global, regional, and national organisations and entities engaged in reef-based adaptation action for ecosystems and communities. The event was co-hosted by the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson, and attended by high-level representatives of governments, multilateral organisations and companies, foundations, universities and NGOs. Watch the live recording here:
The event shed light on financing instruments, innovative technology, conservation solutions and partnerships scaling up and relaying hope for coral reef longevity. Particular emphasis was placed on community-driven, resilience focused initiatives. High-level remarks, solution ‘deep dives’, and a dynamic expert panel showcased integrated climate-smart solutions and increased commitment toward cross- sector collaboration at the nexus of adaptation planning and implementation of the post- 2020 global biodiversity framework.
His Excellency Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katoniver, President of Fiji was the first speaker The President spoke of the effect climate change was already having on the Pacific nation of Fiji and the need for increased investment in adaptation solutions: ‘As Fiji has shown - the adaptation-focused instruments, innovative technology and conservation solutions are available - it is time to increase funding and scale. Only with stronger global commitments can we ensure our precious biodiversity will be safeguarded for future generations.
Ambassador Peter Thomson , UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean. Ambassador Peter Thomson, added a level of optimism to the event by opening with a statement: : ‘We can restore corals. CORDAP will be talking about planting corals in the millions and the technology is there. Let’s refuse the idea that corals are going to be extinct - we won’t let that happen. We need realistic agreements on Co2 emission reduction and the required financial resources for it during this COP. Secondly, protecting the refugia reefs is very important as they work as seed banks in the future and offer us hope. The third solution is to support the institutions that are set up to protect coral reefs. These include ICRI, GFCR, CORDAP, WWF etc and others working to protect and restore coral reefs.’
Ambassador Ken O'Flaherty. UK Regional Ambassador for Asia-Pacific and South Asia. Ambassador O’Flaherty spoke to the need for increased investment funding for the blue economy and touched on the work the UK are doing in this area: ‘The UK believes we need to come together and use the blue economy approach to move away from destructive practices and instead move towards reef-positive ventures that support adaptation efforts at scale. The UK is not only calling on ocean action but we are also delivering. Through the 500M pounds Blue Planet Fund, we are supporting developing countries to protect their marine environment, reduce poverty, and protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030.’
Carol Phua – Global Coral Reef Initiative Leader| Coral Reef Rescue Initiative | WWF. Carol focused on current investment in climate adaptation solutions for coral reefs, drawing out the disparity between investment in mitigation compared to adaptation. 'We need private finance and large-scale private funding. Resilient communities are a key part of the narrative.If we have resilient reefs but not resilient communities, we have missed a big goal for the initiative. That’s why communities are a key pillar of the initiative.’
Pierre Bardoux - Head of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR). Pierre explained the structures of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs grant:‘GFCR is a fund with member states and private philanthropy, mobilising investment for reef-positive businesses. The fund has two structures; a grant window and an investment window or equity arm. In the initial 2 years, we’ve mobilised about $200M in 14 countries. We assess drivers of degradation at the local level, then match investment solutions with the drivers of degradation.’
Vineil Naramaya, Fiji Programme Manager, UNDP. As the first project beneficiary of the Global Fund for Coral Reef grant, Vineil focused on how the program addressed the three drivers of coral reef degradation in Fiji’s Great Sea Reef (GSR): 'The first aspect is the waste management sector in Fiji, the second is unsustainable and poor land-use practices, the third is overfishing'
Alfred Railfo, Senior Policy and Government Affairs Manager, WWF Fiji. Alfred focused on the community perspective of the people of the Great Sea Reef in Fiji: Rights-based land management is important for communities to be able to join decision making processes and to provide opportunities for them to be part of climate change adaptation and ocean action. Rights-based management also enables connection between on-the-ground activities and global funding mechanisms, ensuring that funding trickle down to communities. Communities face a lot of challenges but they are committed to be part of the solution.’
Shenique Albury-Smith, Regional Director, The Nature Conservancy. Shenique focused on the Bahamas, where effort is made to tie coral reef conservation to the economic benefits through reef-positive businesses and climate adaptation. ‘We are developing climate-smart management plans for MPAs that contain refugia reefs as well as creating new MPAs. The map is publicly available through a website (http://coralrefugia.tnc.org) where people can interact with the map and communities can share local knowledge with the program.'
The event ended with a panel of experts: Unlocking Finance at the nexus of the Global Adaptation Plan and the Post 2020 GBF
The Questions asked of the panel were themed to:
- Adaptation finance has decreased in the last few years. How is your institution addressing this?
- How important private investment is. What does it mean by creating a coral reef asset class?
- How are we actually measuring impacts of funding?
Henry Gonzalez, Deputy Executive Director, Green Climate Fund ‘Adaptation is complex and it is important to use the tool kit that is needed because not all areas are ready for equity, venture, or debt, and some of them do need grants. The GCF is able to use the entire tool kit and we try to tailor investment solutions to real needs on the ground. At the end of the day, the most important aspect is people. We can structure things in a different way, but how we make the change and how we target the right people is important.'
Markus Muller, Global Head of the Chief Investment Office, Deutsche Bank AG 'We need knowledge - that’s why we cooperate. Without knowledge, we can’t measure impacts. And if we want to have an impact, we need to understand change as well as the cost and outcomes (negative and positive) of the change. Are we there yet? No. Coming back to my initial statement - change the system towards systemic integration of nature into economic decision making process, then we’ll see impact of our activities.’
Sylvie Goyet, Advisor to the CEO and Vice President, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and GFCR Executive Board Member 'Adaptation is difficult. There is no doubt that mitigation is a challenge, but the metric is relatively simple. Adaptation is extremely complex - it involves a whole web of interconnected threats and drivers and a series of stakeholders. The financial sector is careful in investing in something complex and messy. So the philanthropy sector is trying to help by taking the first cut and taking the risk to instil trust and to lower the risk and build confidence.’