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

Warren Baverstock

Coral reefs play a fundamental role in the health and function of our planet, impacting us all in many different aspects of our lives whether we live near a reef or not. These services would not be able to continue if reefs lose their integrity, or are otherwise destroyed.

Although they only cover 0.2 percent of the ocean floor, they support 25 percent of marine species and provide trillions of dollars in economic services. Estimates indicate coral reefs account for $2.7 trillion per year in ecosystem service value.

We have lost 50 percent of coral reefs and they continue to decline in the face of threats including climate change, pollution over-fishing and destructive fishing. The safety, well being, food, cultural heritage, and economic security of at least one billion people are at risk.

In May 2020, ICRI members adopted a Recommendation for the inclusion of coral reefs within the CBD Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the result of 18 months of work by the 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. This Recommendation comes from the very real need to safeguard coral reef ecosystems of the world from potential collapse.

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. Through the Recommendation, CBD Parties are strongly encouraged to prioritise coral reefs by including clear, specific and actionable indicators in the Global Biodiversity Framework, which will inform interventions aimed at improving reef integrity, quality and function. By monitoring at the national level, countries can determine their progress towards meeting targets, learn which interventions are working or not working, and adapt their conservation and management efforts accordingly. These metrics will also enable an improved consistency of information available at global and regional scales contributing to a more informative overview of changes in coral reef systems. They will also focus governments and donors on delivery of conservation outcomes for coral reefs.

Alongside the Recommendation, ICRI has produced a number of supporting materials, including a summary of the Recommendation, infographics and a one-minute video.

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This work was done with the support of Vulcan Inc.