Coral reefs: We continue to take more than we give

Between 2010 and 2016, more than USD 1.9 billion was committed to implement, monitor and enforce the conservation and sustainable management of tropical coral reefs and associated mangroves and seagrasses.

This is one of the main findings of a preliminary analysis conducted by UNEP-WCMC, UN Environment and the International Coral Reef Initiative, and funded by the Government of France. Funding has also increased significantly over recent years in response to global and regional policy commitments on environment and development.

However, this investment is not proportionate to the economic and social gains from these ecosystems. Coral reefs alone provide society with resources and services worth USD 375 billion each year. Although they cover less than one per cent of the ocean floor, coral reef ecosystems support an estimated twenty-five per cent of all marine life, feed hundreds of millions of people and provide work and income through tourism and fisheries, for example.

The analysis also revealed that nine out of ten coral reef projects occur in a single country, yet coral reef ecosystems cross country boundaries. Effective management of coral reefs therefore require countries to work in partnership, also a key goal of the Sustainable Development Goal 17.

The International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2018 the third International Year of the Reef, an objective of which is to catalyse increased funding for the sustainable management of coral reefs. This worldwide campaign also aims to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs, and the threats to their sustainability.

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