In association with the Government of Australia, the Government of Belize hosted the 28th General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) from 14 to 17 October in Belize City. Approximately 60 delegates from over 20 countries attended the meeting.
The International Coral Reef Initiative is an informal partnership between nations and organizations which strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world. Although the Initiative is an informal group whose decisions are not binding on its members, its actions have been pivotal in continuing to highlight globally the importance of coral reefs and related ecosystems to environmental sustainability, tourism development, marine product exports, food security, livelihoods and social and cultural wellbeing.
The Belize meeting was the second in the two-year ICRI hosting by Australia and Belize. The first meeting was held in Cairns, Australia in July 2012 and focussed on both management effectiveness assessment and stewardship in protected area management.
The agenda for the Belize meeting focussed on partnerships in managing marine ecosystems bringing together governments and civil society seeking mutual outcomes in sustainable environmental management. Case studies of successful partnerships from the wider Caribbean including Belize were introduced to delegates.
Delegates to the meeting also welcomed the production of two major publications under the ICRI banner: the Regional Lionfish Strategy addressing the issue of the invasive lionfish in the Caribbean and the Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012 a major synthesis and analysis of over forty years of data on coral reef condition in the wider Caribbean. The meeting recognised that both documents will be central to informing management and community decision making in the coming years.
The meeting concluded with a short ceremony to hand over responsibility for hosting ICRI from Belize and Australia to the Government of Japan.