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UNESCO takes stock of coral reef resilience

‘Coral reefs are the major witnesses of climate change.’

That was the message from UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay to a meeting of UNESCO and its partners in July, and she’s calling for concerted action to strengthen coral reef resilience.

With an estimated 75 per cent of global reefs under threat, the world-first Resilient Reefs initiative was presented to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. 

Launched in 2018 with the support of the BHP Foundation, Resilient Reefs is a bold initiative that goes to the heart of protecting the world’s coral reefs by building the resilience of coral reefs and reef dependent communities to climate change.

It’s a four-year project that’s bringing together local communities, reef managers and resilience experts for the first time to give five World Heritage listed coral reef sites their best chance of survival. This initiative catalyses a collective response to find innovative local solutions to share globally and accelerate learning.

Initially, five sites are included in the project:  Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau), Lagoons of New Caledonia (France), Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize), Ningaloo Coast and the Great Barrier Reef (Australia).

At the UNESCO meeting, Palau’s Jennifer Olegeriil brought many in the audience to tears when she took to the stage to speak about the project’s objectives and what it will deliver for Palau.

Resilient Reefs is a collaboration between the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the BHP Foundation, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 100 Resilient Cities–Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation and The Nature Conservancy’s Reef Resilience Network with AECOM as implementation partner.

Read more about the project on our website.

Read more about the UNESCO meeting.