The UN Ocean conference, held in mid- 2022 concluded with a call from world leaders and more than 150 Member States to make global commitments, including:
- Protecting or exceeding 30% of national maritime zones by 2030
- Achieving carbon neutrality by 2040
- Reducing plastic pollution
- Increasing renewable energy use
Allocating billions of dollars to research on ocean acidification, climate resilience projects and to monitoring, control and surveillance
During the conference the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative (CRRI), together with the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and Coral Research & Development Accelerator Platform (CORDAP), organised a high-level breakfast event The Last Stand for Coral Reefs.
The event was 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, foundations, universities and NGOs.
The discussion covered conservation and resilience of coral reefs and general agreement centred on restoration but must be alongside addressing the drivers of coral reef loss, protecting what is left and investing in improving conditions for local communities at scale.
"It is unimaginable to us that there would be a world without coral reefs, there is a lot we can do locally to help them survive and keep them resilient…if you get down to it is really about finance.”
Ambassador Peter Thomson The speakers also presented models that facilitate public, private and philanthropic resource mobilisation to support governments and coastal communities to achieve their long term sustainable development vision for their reefscapes under changing climate conditions. The issues of gender inequality in coastal communities was also raised.
“Climate change impacts different people in different ways at different times of the year. The acute part of this depends on gender. If you are a woman dependent on coral reefs, you are automatically more impacted by the dangers to coral reefs. Gender inequality is fixable. … If we do want resilient reefs and ecosystems, we need resilient communities.” Mr Karl Deering (Care International).
To end the event – an announcement was made by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that has now approved the Coral Reef Rescue project, which is implemented by a rare combination of many organisations in the room. The $7.8 million foundational investment for six countries (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar and Tanzania) was made possible by strong support and partnership with the governments of these countries.