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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 scenario, nearly 90% of the 29 World Heritage-listed coral reefs are expected to severely bleach twice-per-decade by 2040.

Building resilience and adaptation is an essential component of the long-term response to climate change. To be successful it requires looking at ecosystems and communities holistically and securing the active and sustained engagement of stakeholders across the private and public sectors.

With the help of an international consortium of partners, five World-Heritage listed coral reefs in Palau, Belize, France and Australia have embarked on a new, leading-edge approach to change the way they understand climate risk and plan the future.

on impact

The initiative provides financial support, capacity building and technical expertise to assist the selected coral reefs to change the way they understand climate risks and vulnerability and design adaptation strategies. Impact is delivered through innovation and by amplifying work already done on the ground.

local leadership

The initiative supports the hiring of a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) to strengthen local management teams in selected sites. The CRO galvanizes support across private entities, public sectors and local communities to collectively build a resilience strategy that works for both people and nature.


Implementation is at the heart of the initiative. Once the resilience strategy is in place, funding and expertise is focused on implementing solutions critical to strengthen the resilience of communities and ecosystems.


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

Our Success to Date

Launched in October 2018 for an initial phase of 4 years with a budget of USD 9 million, the project has assembled a diverse, international team of experts. Both Ningaloo Coast and the Lagoons of New Caledonia hired a Chief Resilience Officer in 2019 and started the design of their Resilience Strategies. Sites in Belize, Palau and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef commence their work in 2020.


The Resilient Reefs Initiative is a collaboration between the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme, The Nature Conservancy’s Reef Resilience Network, Columbia University’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes, Resilient Cities Catalyst and AECOM. The project is enabled by the BHP Foundation.