ICRI at a Glance
"identify marine ecosystems exhibiting high levels of biodiversity and productivity and other critical habitat areas and should provide necessary limitations on use of these areas, through, inter alia, designation of protected areas. Priority should be accorded, as appropriate, to:
- Coral reef ecosystems;
- Temperate and tropical wetlands, including mangroves;
- Seagrass beds;
- Other spawning and nursery areas."
The International Coral Reef Initiative emerged out of the recognition that the coral reefs and related ecosystems found in tropical and sub-tropical regions are facing serious degradation, primarily due to anthropogenic stresses. Global estimations point that 10 percent of the Earth's coral reefs have already been seriously degraded and a that much greater percentage of coral reefs is under serious threat. Damaged or destroyed reefs can be found in more than 93 countries, with the coral reefs in South and Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Caribbean facing the greatest risk. It has been recognized that, if allowed to continue, this decline is likely to lead to the loss of most of the world's reef resources during the next century.
The international scientific community has been focusing the public attention on the serious decline of reefs for some years. Eventually, the concept of a Coral Reef Initiative to provide a focus on the plight of reefs and on the actions necessary to reverse the trend of degradation emerged at various international fora in 1994. It was founded on the clear recognition that many nations face similar threats to coral reefs and related ecosystems as well as similar management problems.
ICRI objectives call for:
- governments and international organizations strengthening commitment to and implementation of programs at the local, national, regional, and international levels to conserve, restore and promote sustainable use of coral reefs and associated environments;
- each country and region incorporating into existing local, regional, and national development plans, management provisions for protection, restoration, and sustainable use of the structure, processes and biodiversity of coral reefs and associated environments;
- strengthening capacity for development and implementation of policies, management, research, and monitoring of coral reefs and associated environments;
- establishing and maintaining coordination of international, regional and national research and monitoring programs, including the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, in association with the Global Ocean Observing System, to ensure efficient use of scarce resources and a flow of information relevant to management of coral reefs and associated environments.
The ICRI founding partners have formed an ICRI Executive Planning Committee (EPC) to oversee the development and review of workshop agendas and ICRI products and to provide overall guidance for the conduct of the Initiative.
In the Summer of 1995, an international ICRI workshop was held at Dumaguete City, the Philippines. The workshop provided a forum for governments, donors and funding agencies, development organizations, NGOs, the research community to work together in order to develop a consensus framework for achieving sustainable management of coral reef ecosystems. Workshop participants endorsed a "Call to Action", which advocates international recognition that coral reefs are in serious decline globally due primarily to human activities, and a "Framework for Action".
The Call to Action and the Framework for Action have multiple applications. They provided the basis for the conduct of regional workshops to define regional needs and priorities and to catalyze the development of national coral reef initiatives. They promote the ICRI's goal of ecosystem and community-based management and encourage U.N. agencies and convention bodies, as well as multilateral and bilateral donors, to incorporate ICRI into their programs in order to better focus and leverage existing resources. They also identify important roles for the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the scientific community in monitoring and addressing the serious global decline of coral reefs.