Major New Commitments from the United Kingdom and Minderoo Foundation for Coral Reefs
New announcements of coral reef action delivered today at the Our Ocean Conference in Panama include a £24 million GBP commitment by the Government of the United Kingdom and a $5 million USD investment from the Minderoo Foundation to the Global Fund for Coral Reefs grant and private equity funds, respectively.
Despite being a cornerstone of ocean health and community resilience, the world lost 14 percent of the coral cover on its reefs between 2009 and 2018, and 90 percent of the world’s remaining coral reefs are threatened and may disappear completely by 2050.
Without immediate global action to safeguard coral reefs, we face the first climate extinction of an entire ecosystem within our lifetime. However, there is still hope. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs delivers blended public and private finance to scale solutions designed to increase the protection of Earth’s most climate resilient coral reefs and deliver on the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework ambitions.
The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated: “I am proud that the UK was one of the first to step up with funding for the Global Fund for Coral Reefs – back in 2021, supporting efforts around the world, from Kenya and Tanzania, to Fiji and Indonesia. I am delighted that through the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, the UK is investing an additional £24 million, building on the £9m already committed, and that we will be stepping up as co-chairs as well.”
Launched at the 2021 G7 Leaders Summit, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund helps developing countries reduce poverty; through the protection and sustainable management of their marine resources. The GFCR continues to be a key component of the UK’s Blue Planet Fund portfolio and this new contribution marks the largest single commitment to date for the GFCR’s Grant Fund.
As a champion of coral reef action and supporter of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs coalition, Ellie Goulding, UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador stated: “Coral reefs globally are facing increasing pressures from climate change, pollution, and other threats. The window of time to save these ecosystems is closing rapidly. I saw for myself what is at stake late last year when I visited the Red Sea in Sharm El Sheikh with UNEP, and in support of the Fund. This is why I am proud to see the UK taking urgent action to protect coral reefs and aid developing nations in climate-resilience efforts. I urge other nations, philanthropies, and investors to join the Global Fund for Coral Reefs to help secure a future for these vital ecosystems.”
Craig Cogut, Founder and CEO of Pegasus Capital Advisors, the impact investment firm that manages the GFCR private equity fund, said, “We are thrilled by the interest and activism of our new investors and partners, Minderoo and The Blue Planet Fund, to address the urgent needs of the blue economy. Our goal is to demonstrate that investing to benefit coastal ecosystems and communities, with coral reefs as their benchmark for success, is a sure bet to achieve climate goals, for the overall health of the planet, as well as for economic bottom-line growth.”
Director of Minderoo Flourishing Oceans initiative, Dr Tony Worby, said the capital investment in the GFCR was key to unlocking a further $25 million from the Green Climate Fund. “Minderoo challenges the world’s biggest issues and through impact investing we can help establish and grow ocean-positive businesses that protect, rather than degrade, the world’s coral reefs,” Dr Worby said. “This investment instrument is an innovative tool to leverage government, business and community action to tackle the urgent and unprecedented need to return the ocean to a flourishing state.”
GFCR’s public and private investments are being used to develop and scale community-driven blue economic solutions that address local drivers of coral reef loss and unlock sustainable conservation finance streams. Supported solutions include sustainable fisheries, waste treatment and recycling facilities, coral reef insurance, sustainable aquaculture and agriculture, ecotourism enterprises, blue carbon credits, and sustainably financed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
“The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is proud to be a founding partner and the hosting agency of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR). By leveraging international public and philanthropic funding to generate private investment in coral reefs, GFCR is accelerating resilience and restoration action in line with the ambition of the new Global Biodiversity Framework.” said UNCDF Deputy Executive Secretary, Xavier Michon. “In the face of an intensifying climate crisis, the new investments by the UK Blue Planet Fund and Minderoo Foundation will support nature-positive economic transition while boosting the climate resilience of coral reefs and vulnerable coastal communities in developing nations.”
Antha Williams, who leads the global climate and environment program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “Protecting the ocean from climate change and other threats requires greater safeguards for our coral reefs. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs is already making a difference, providing a critical vehicle for philanthropy to engage the public and private sectors around proven ocean solutions. Bloomberg Philanthropies is glad to be part of this coalition bringing partners and funders together to protect reefs, combat climate change, and deliver better, longer lives for people around the world.”
The GFCR further announced two new Executive Board Co-Chairs to oversee its catalytic grant programmes for the period of 2023 through 2024. Representing the UK Government, Briony Coulson, Head of International Sustainable Blue Finance, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and representing UNEP, Leticia Carvalho, Head of the Marine and Freshwater Branch.
GFCR Executive Board Co-Chair, Briony Coulson stated “I’m immensely proud that the UK is scaling its support for the GFCR through the UK’s Blue Planet Fund. In addition to the £24m, I am so excited that I am taking on the role of co-chair alongside the UNEP. Coral reefs are critically important for the health of our ocean and the communities that depend on them, yet are under significant threat from climate change, pollution, and overfishing. I look forward to working together with Leticia and the growing GFCR Coalition in achieving our shared goals of safeguarding these vulnerable ecosystems.
GFCR Executive Board Co-Chair, Leticia Carvalho, said “UNEP is keen to increase our role in this important fund, in collaboration with the UK Government and Blue Planet Fund. Coral Reefs and related marine ecosystems are amongst the most vulnerable habitats to climate change, compounded by local stressors. We must make the world aware of the threats and generate the necessary funding to activate solutions through blended finance. That’s what the Global Fund for Coral Reefs is all about.”
The new announcements were featured at the plenary session of the Our Ocean Conference in Panama as well as through the Future of Reefs side-event hosted by the Global Fund for Coral Reefs and partners including the UN Decade of Ocean Science, International Coral Reef Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Race to Resilience, and UNEP. The session showcased bankable climate-adaptive solutions already underway along with substantive discussion around private and public mobilisation efforts that need to occur in the lead up to November’s UNFCCC COP28.