Coral reef ecosystems and the CBD Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Warren Baverstock

In December 2018 at the 33rd ICRI General Meeting, members created an ad hoc committee to contribute to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework development process on matters relating to the critical status of coral reefs and how this ecosystem can be sufficiently addressed within the post-2020 framework.

In May 2020, ICRI members adopted a Recommendation for the inclusion of coral reefs within the CBD Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This Recommendation comes from the very real need to safeguard coral reef ecosystems of the world from potential collapse.

Aligning clearly with the theme of International Day for Biological Diversity 2020 “Our Solutions are in Nature”, the Recommendation and associated materials demonstrate the benefits of preserving coral reefs for example; a healthy reef can reduce coastal wave energy by up to 97%, therefore, protecting people, businesses and properties, and through activities such as fisheries and tourism coral reefs support more than 1 billion people worldwide.

The Recommendation includes a set of clear indicators that measure the health, integrity and function of coral reefs including live coral cover, coral reef extent, fish abundance, and coral reefs that are under some form of area-based management. In recommending these the indicators, ICRI took into account available and emerging tools and methods to track each one including on-going initiatives such as the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, the Allen Coral Atlas, the World Database on Protected Areas, and various local and regional data collection resources to ensure readiness for use. The Recommendation also includes a select number of new indicators for priority development that will be important for improving feedback on ecosystem integrity and resilience.

By monitoring against these indicators, countries can determine their progress, learn what is working or not working and rapidly adapt their conservation actions. These metrics will also contribute to a global understanding of coral reef status.

50 percent of coral reefs globally have already been lost and they continue to decline due to cumulative anthropogenic pressures including climate change, pollution and destructive fishing. ICRI members are strongly encouraging the CBD Parties to prioritise coral reefs by including clear, specific and measurable indicators that will inform interventions aimed at improving ecosystem integrity, quality and function. In its Recommendation, ICRI contends that, as a highly critical and vulnerable ecosystem, taking measures to sustain coral reefs will have a ripple effect on other marine systems.

Alongside the Recommendation, ICRI has produced a number of supporting materials.

We have also made these materials available for download via a Dropbox folder and we hope you can use these to support this milestone opportunity. In this folder, you will find the Press Release (PDF), the Summary of the ICRI Recommendation (PDF) and the ICRI Recommendation (PDF), as well as two infographics and a one-minute video.

Two infographics, one that illustrates the value of coral reefs globally and one that describes the recommended indicators:

A one-minute video that depicts the value of corals and a call to action in supporting the Recommendation

This work was done with the support of Vulcan Inc.