The Global Fund for Coral Reefs held its Executive Board in the framework of Monaco Ocean Week
On the initiaitive of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) held its Executive Board during Monaco Ocean Week. The Board approved transformative blended finance programmes for two additional coral nations, a collaborative project with globally renowned film director Luc Jacquet’s IceBreaker Studios, and the Coalition’s global monitoring and evaluation system for coral reef and community impact.
“The Global Fund for Coral Reefs is vital to deliver innovative, blended finance solutions that actively contribute to the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework and expanding its reach to 13 coral reef nations is a significant achievement.” stated Briony Coulson, Head of International Sustainable Blue Finance, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and GFCR Executive Board Co-Chair. “The UK is a proud supporter of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, recently pledging an additional £24 million, and we look forward to welcoming new commitments and driving further progress in the year ahead.”
The GFCR Executive Board approved the launch of a second programme for Indonesia, hosting 16% of the world’s coral habitat and the most diverse and biologically complex marine ecosystem on Earth. Led by Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), the KORALESTARI programme aims to address key local drivers of coral reef loss through blended finance interventions, including unsustainable fishing and aquaculture, uncontrolled coastal development, land and marine pollution, and invasive species. At the heart of the Coral Triangle region, the programme will focus on three priority areas: Berau in East Kalimantan, Savu Sea in East Nusa Tengarra, and the Natuna Sea west of Borneo. This new announcement expands GFCR funding support in Indonesia, to a total coral reef area of more than 1600 km2 (400,000 acres).
The GFCR Executive Board further announced the approval of a blended finance programme for the Maldives. Led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Maldives Resilient Reef Ecosystem and Economy for the Future (Maldives RREEF) initiative will establish sustainable financing mechanisms to support coral conservation and facilitate the development of, and investment in, projects and enterprises that sustainably contribute to the resilience of coral reefs and the atoll communities. The coral reef systems of the Maldives are the seventh largest in the world and the fifth most diverse ecosystem of the world’s reef areas. Phase one of the Maldives RREEF programme will focus on two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the Addu Atoll and Fuvahmulah Atoll in the southern region of the country.
The GFCR Coalition welcomes a new collaboration with IceBreaker Studios to support the development and impact of the Coral Planet initiative. Icebreaker Studios, under the leadership of globally renowned Academy Award winning director Luc Jacquet, is developing Coral Planet as part of a wider nature-impact approach to enable viewers to “feel like explorers setting foot on an unknown planet” and enhance the public’s relationship with nature. IceBreaker Studios will deploy innovative technology to tell the story of the world of coral reefs through a variety of media, including a feature film, in-person exhibitions and television docuseries. With Executive Board approval for the Coral Planet collaboration, an innovative investment leveraging recoverable grant capital to secure revenue rights on behalf of Marine Protected Areas is now being considered.
“IceBreaker Studios is pleased to launch this collaboration with the Global Fund for Coral Reefs Coalition on the Coral Planet initiative. Coral Planet will aim to show the coral reefs in a way they have never been seen before, by communities far and wide, exposing the wonder of one of Earth’s most significant biodiverse habitats. This unprecedented model will combine entertainment, science, and impact investment to unlock additional resources for the benefit of globally significant Marine Protected Areas.” Stated renowned film director and IceBreaker Studios Founder and CEO, Luc Jacquet. “We also express thanks and gratitude to the Principality of Monaco and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation who were the first to support the IceBreaker’s work to reconnecting mankind with nature through images and emotions.”
The Executive Board session further resulted in the launch of a new Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework to track progress towards ambitious wins for coral reef biodiversity and community resilience to climate change. The M&E Framework was developed and led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), together with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and MERMAID (the Marine Ecological Research Management AID) alongside impact investors, coral reef experts, and GFCR implementers. The Framework identifies a global set of shared indicators across all GFCR programmes that include tracking: trends in coral reef health, area of coral restoration, the number of local jobs created in sustainable businesses, and the number of financial mechanisms to boost the resilience of coral reefs and coastal communities to climate change.
“Aligned with the Global Biodiversity Framework negotiated by nearly 200 countries in December 2022, the GFCR Indicators will support global efforts to reduce the loss of biodiversity and the threat that this poses to coral reefs and 1 billion people who depend on them worldwide. UNEP could not be more pleased to bring this innovative approach to monitoring and evaluation and to give coral reefs a fighting chance through a better, and measurable understanding of what it will take to save them” commented Leticia Carvalho, Head of Marine and Freshwater for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), GFCR Executive Board Co-Chair.
“At the frontlines of climate change, coral reefs and coastal communities urgently need measurable wins for nature and people. This new framework identifies practical, cost-effective indicators and centers important tools like MERMAID that will track global progress to save coral reefs,” says Dr. Emily Darling Director, Coral Reef Conservation, WCS, who supported development of the framework and is a member of the GFCR’s Science and Technical Advisory Group consisting of more than 30 scientists and experts.
The Executive Board meeting was hosted by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, a founding partner of the GFCR and a permanent Executive Board member. The 2023 Monaco Ocean week marks five years since the original workshop held in Monaco led to the conception of GFCR ahead of its official launch during the UN General Assembly in September of 2020.
Olivier Wenden, Vice President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, stated: “For Monaco, the protection of coral reef and marine ecosystems is part of the DNA of the Principality and the Foundation. You can see it during this Monaco Ocean Week, in terms of strengthening marine science and research, deploying advocacy and influence for strong policy frameworks, or supporting Marine Protected Areas, the Principality and the Foundation put a prime focus on ocean ecosystems as the nourishing and stabilizing system to sustain our social and economic development. We are honored to count as a founding member of the GFCR and the Foundation will keep on accompanying the GFCR to support the mobilisation of additional resources, the visibility of the Fund, the enlargement of the coalition and the monitoring of impacts and lessons learned.”
The Global Fund for Coral Reefs now moves forward with an ambition to expand its global portfolio of blended finance programmes to include initiatives for 23 coral nations and accelerate diversified sources of finance to help deliver Global Biodiversity Framework ambitions.