Coral reefs in the Caribbean are amongst the most at risk globally. Having lost 80% of its corals over the last half century, mainly due to a changing and variable climate, coastal development and pollution, the region is seeking to turn the tide.
Warming seas brought forth by climate change have contributed to corals being “bleached” – a state where the tiny polyps that build the reefs die. This is particularly problematic as coral reefs are showcases of biodiversity, centrepieces of cultural identity and sources of sustainable economic opportunity. Loss of reefs is a serious economic problem in the Caribbean, where large populations depend on fishing and tourism.
These realities are the basis for the Australia Caribbean Coral Reef Collaboration: Managing coral reefs in a changing climate. The two year programme (2012-2014) seeks to bring together coral reef managers and policymakers from across the world to improve the outlook for the Caribbean’s coral reefs in the face of climate change by:
Developing a Regional Plan of Action for reducing coral reef vulnerability amidst a changing climate,
Enhancing knowledge exchange between Australia and the Caribbean region through Collaborative Projects
Providing a platform for engagement and capacity building across the region through a Climate Change Adaptation Resource Portal
Regional Plan of Action
The Regional Plan of Action will provide a regional vision for building resilience of coral reefs to climate change and identify key needs and opportunities for national and international initiatives. The programme will also establish a framework for mainstreaming adaptation strategies for coral reefs into Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states’ sustainable development agenda, in a manner that advances the implementation of the landmark Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (2009-2015).
A dedicated Climate Change Adaptation Resource Portal is also being developed to provide a one-stop shop for coral reef managers and policymakers seeking the latest and best concepts, tools and resources for managing coral reefs in a changing climate.
Five collaborative projects are being implemented to enhance knowledge exchange between Australia and the Caribbean region, especially in priority areas such as biodiversity conservation, integration of social and economic considerations, strategic coastal management, stewardship and reef health assessment.
Project activities are being coordinated with existing activities and organisations within the region to ensure integration and sustainability of project benefits.
The projects include:
Marine biodiversity offsets: toward no net loss of biodiversity in a changing climate
Outlook reporting: Building climate change into integrated coastal management
Monitoring multi-tool for managers: A monitoring protocol for meeting the information needs of decision-makers
Building social resilience into reef management: guidance to help managers integrate social and economic considerations into decisions
Reef stewardship: A Caribbean program for harnessing people power for reef management
The Australia Caribbean Coral Reef Collaboration is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). Implementation of the program is being led by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) under the auspices of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM).
Key project partners include:
Program activities are coordinated with other important regional programs and initiatives, including: