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Shaping the future of climate adaptation through Resilient Reefs

Climate change is today the biggest threat to coral reefs. Under a business-as-usual emissions scenario, nearly 90% of the 29 World Heritage-listed coral reefs are expected to severely bleach twice-per-decade by 2040.

The Resilient Reefs Initiative is a global partnership to support World Heritage reefs, and the communities that depend on them, to adapt to climate change by reducing local threats. Building resilience and adaptation is an essential component of the long-term response to climate change. It requires looking at ecosystems and communities holistically and securing the active and sustained engagement of stakeholders across the private and public sectors.

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Resilient Reefs Highlights 

The names and boundaries shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations. Source: United Nations / Geospatial Information Section of the United Nations

Pilot project sites

The Resilient Reefs Initiative is being developed in an initial four pilot sites including the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau), the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize), the Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems (France) and Ningaloo Coast (Australia). Australia's Great Barrier Reef plays a key knowledge sharing role in the initiative.

Key pathways to concrete solutions

Local Leadership

Resilient Reefs funds a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) embedded within the local management organisation at each pilot site. The CRO galvanizes support across private entites, public sectors and local communities to collectively build a Resilience Strategy.

Strategic Planning

The initative provides financial support, capacity building and technical expertise to assist the selected coral reefs to develop a holistic Resilience Strategy. Impact is delivered through innovation and by amplifying work already performed on the ground.

Action Implementation

Implementation is at the heart of the initiative. Once the Resilience Strategy is in place, funding and design support is focussed on implementing solutions critical to strengthen the resilience of communities and ecosystems.

Global Expertise

Through a series of exchanges and sharing of best practices, the initative builds expertise at other coral reefs across the globe toward a holistic approach to resilience and adaptation in which both people and nature thrive.

Delivering resilience

At each pilot site, adoption of a resilience strategy enacts a collective fund of USD$ 2.6 million in collective seed funding, which finances actions to accelerate delivering resilience, leveraging co-funding where possible.

With thanks to our partners

Initiated by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Resilient Reefs initiative is a six-year AUD$14 million (approximately USD$10.5 million at the time of writing) collaboration between the Nature Conservancy's Reef Resilience Network, the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University, the Resilient Cities Catalyst, UNESCO and AECOM. The program is supported by the BHP Foundation.

Photos: © Joel Johnsson/DBCA, © UNESCO 2023 

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