Coastal News

Global Fund for Coral Reefs Approves Additional Funding for Resilience Action

In the face of increasing threats to coral ecosystems and the recent announcement of the fourth global coral bleaching event, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) Executive Board has announced a total of over $25 million USD in additional grant funding to scale up resilience efforts across coral nations. Announcements include a new blended finance program for Egypt’s Red Sea, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Without collective action at pace and scale, scientists estimate that 90% of remaining coral reefs may be lost by 2050, with dire consequences for the communities and economies they support. To face this crisis, the GFCR Coalition has established a robust portfolio of innovative, market-based solutions spanning 23 nations to protect critical coral reef refugia—Earth’s most resilient reef ecosystems,” said Peter Bryant, Program Director, Oceans, Builders Initiative, and GFCR Executive Board Member. “The new GFCR announcements, representing an increase of more than $25 million USD for resilience-based efforts, will aid the sustainable blue transition of local economies and unlock greater conservation funding flows for generations to come.”

The new GFCR program, Egyptian Red Sea Initiative, aims to increase the protection of one of the longest-living and most resilient reef ecosystems in the world. Supported by a major funding commitment from USAID, this initiative, in partnership with the Government of Egypt and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will establish a landmark Egyptian Fund for Coral Reefs to leverage up to $50 million USD in private and public funding, for sustainable blue economic transition and conservation efforts. Additional market-based solutions to be supported by a coral reef business incubator include organic waste recycling for coastal farming, aquaculture to support ecosystem restoration, and mooring systems to avoid boat-related reef damage.

Sean Jones, Mission Director, USAID/Egypt, said, “The Egyptian Red Sea Initiative is a groundbreaking collaboration in blended finance to conserve Egypt’s coral reefs. USAID, in partnership with the Government of Egypt, international and local organizations, and private and non-profit donors and investors, is committed to safeguarding the Red Sea’s vital ecosystem and the communities it supports while promoting economic growth and sustainable development for the Egyptian people.”

New GFCR Executive Board announcements also include funding uplifts for Mesoamerican Region (MAR); country programs in Indonesia and the Philippines; as well an initiative focused on Pemba Island, Zanzibar.

In the Philippines, hosting the third-largest coral reef area in the world, the GFCR-supported program led by Blue Alliance Marine Protected Areas has already unlocked catalytic donor and impact investor funding to operationalize a Marine Protected Area (MPA) Impact Loan Facility. A new influx of GFCR support will scale implementation to cover more than 100 MPAs hosting 80,000 hectares of significant coral refugia coverage and increase the resilience of more than 2 million coastal community members. The funding uplift will expand reef-positive business solutions spanning ecotourism, community-based aquaculture, and sustainable fisheries, incorporated in the program’s MPA finance strategy.

In Indonesia, located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, the additional support from the GFCR will help ensure sustainable long-term funding for effective MPA management and financing access for reef-positive enterprises. With an emphasis on supporting local women, the increased GFCR funding seeks to enable the growth of at least 10 additional reef-positive businesses, including community-led seaweed hatcheries and handling facilities, ecotourism ventures, and sustainable aquaculture.

Meizani Irmadhiany, Senior Vice President & Executive Chair of Konservasi Indonesia, said “Innovation to support the acceleration and scale up of models in effective MPA management that links with coral-positive business is critical to support Indonesia’s Blue Economy vision that is grounded in protecting coastal and marine ecosystems that provides food security, livelihoods for communities and supports the growth of the nation. GFCR’s support provides catalytic funding to strengthen effective management and funding flows to MPAs, create innovative models to scale impact through support in sectors such as responsible tourism, seaweed, and fisheries development that incentivize long-term protection of critical coral reef habitats.”

In the MAR, home to the largest reef barrier in the Western Hemisphere, the GFCR is funding the MAR+Invest program to address local drivers of ecosystem degradation and contribute to reef and community resilience through blended finance. Now in its second phase, the MAR+Invest partners are scaling a regional portfolio of market-based solutions spanning Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, instrumental to achieving the program’s 2030 targets: 60,000 hectares of coral reefs under improved management; 3 million community members with increased resilience; and $60 million USD leveraged in public and private finance.

“The Global Fund for Coral Reefs has played a pivotal role in supporting MAR+Invest’s transformative efforts to protect coral reefs and the communities dependent on them in the Mesoamerican Reef region. By addressing critical funding gaps and promoting innovative market solutions, MAR+Invest aims to safeguard these vital ecosystems while enhancing local livelihoods.” said María José González Executive Director, Mesoamerican Reef Fund. “We extend our sincere gratitude to GFCR for their invaluable support in developing a blended finance mechanism in the region. This initiative advances market solutions that generate revenue and positively impact the health of our reefs, fostering sustainable development and enhancing the resilience and well-being of the largest coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean.”

New funding support was also announced for the Blue Alliance-led initiative in Pemba Island, Zanzibar; home to 50% of Tanzania’s coral reefs and a wealth of vulnerable marine species. The blended finance program on the North Pemba Channel Conservation Area leverages locally led enterprises to protect coral reefs and promote inclusive prosperity. The initiative will enable the growth of 7 reef-positive business solutions contributing to the sustainable finance and management of 27,000 MPA hectares. The program’s 2030 objectives include regeneration of approximately 4,200 hectares of coral reefs, support for at least 15,000 fisher and coastal community member livelihoods, and a minimum of $15 million USD funding from impact commercial investors through its blended finance impact facility.

“Leveraging $25 million USD to scale up the resilience efforts across coral nations is an incredible lift, and particularly for the newly launched program in Egypt’s Red Sea. I visited the Red Sea and the Ras Mohammed National Park in October 2022 with UNEP’s Goodwill Ambassador Ellie Goulding in the lead up to COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh. The experience of seeing such a healthy reef was a defining and poignant moment for all of us, knowing it will almost certainly disappear, if we fail to invest in the resilience of this and other ecosystems like it,” said Leticia Carvalho, Head of Marine and Freshwater Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and GFCR Executive Board Co-Chair. “As we approach the 2025 UN Ocean Conference, we need to really wake up to the urgency and recognize what’s at stake: the functional extinction of an entire ecosystem. And the opportunity to be the first generation to save one. Urgent and scaled collective action must be mobilized. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs is focused on innovation and investments through its programmatic portfolio that spans over 20 countries, to increase coral reef resilience globally while also contributing to the delivery of the 2030 Agenda and Global Biodiversity Framework targets.”

As the leading global coral finance instrument, the GFCR aims to increase the protection and resilience of at least 3 million hectares of coral reefs globally by 2030—representing 25% of the Coral Reef Breakthrough target and approximately 12% of reefs remaining on Earth. With full capitalization, the GFCR Coalition will aim to leverage up to $3 billion USD in public and private finance for the benefit of marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and economies.

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