On Tuesday, November 16th, 2016, Ségolène Royal, President of COP21 and Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia held a ministerial event on coral reefs at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The following statement was issued:
- Australia and France share a strong commitment to preserving the world’s coral reefs.
- The world’s coral reefs are under growing pressure from the cumulative impacts of factors such as rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidity caused by climate change, overfishing, pollutants and sediments coming from land, and increased sea traffic.
- Coral reef ecosystems are some of the most beautiful and biodiverse on our planet. Healthy reefs provide a source of livelihood for many communities and are of pivotal importance to world food security.
- Managing our reefs is a local endeavour, but sharing our expertise and cooperating on best practice globally offers the best prospect of the world’s coral reefs responding and recovering from threats and challenges.
- Coral reefs are also vital early warning systems for the changes affecting our oceans caused by climate change. Building upon the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, continued joint action by all to address climate change is crucial.
- More than two decades ago Australia and France with six other nations founded the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to improve sustainable management of coral reefs.
- The members of ICRI have developed a Plan of Action to strengthen international action and cooperation on best practice in reef management.
- Under the plan, ICRI will increase its focus on climate change, including the role coral reefs and related ecosystems can play in climate change mitigation and adaptation. It will help address human threats to ecosystems, such as those from plastic microbeads, and better monitor the state of the world’s coral reefs. ICRI will also promote public awareness of the importance of coral reefs, including making 2018 the third International Year of the Reef.
- This is a powerful commitment, backed by the best expertise the world has to offer. Australia and France will continue to work together, and with Ministers of other ICRI countries, to advance global coral reef preservation efforts and secure the future of these ecosystems.