04 Feb News, Updates and a Wealth of Resources Shared at the 35th General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative
The first week of February saw the inaugural online General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), an annual gathering last held in December 2019 in Townsville, Australia. As an informal partnership between countries and organizations, ICRI advocates best management practices for coral reefs and associated ecosystems, capacity building, and raising awareness to threats facing reefs. Coral Triangle Center was formally accepted for ICRI membership during the 33rd General Meeting, held in Monaco in 2018, where His Serene Highness Prince Albert II, Ambassador Angus McKenzie and Minister Susi Pudjiastuti represented ICRI Secretariat hosts Monaco, Australia and Indonesia, respectively. This year’s meeting, held online, drew around 130 participants from about 60 member institutions.
During the meeting, three resolutions were adopted to extend ad hoc committees, including the ICRI Ad Hoc Committee on Resilience-based Management, the ICRI Ad Hoc Committee on coral reef restoration and adaptation research and development, and the ICRI Ad Hoc Committee on the inclusion of a coral reef-related target in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
Despite the difference in format, the meeting provided the same opportunity for member reports, featuring a treasure trove of publications, websites and other resources relevant to the coral reef enthusiast’s toolbox. While recordings of the meeting captured the full range of topics, a few resources stood out: Representatives of the ICRI Secretariat announced a new online Restoration Hub, a curated collection of manuals, e-courses, databases, initiative descriptions and case studies focused on reef restoration. The World Resources Institute is building a coral reef dashboard that includes an interactive map with geospatial data layers from trusted sources like the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Fishing Watch and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Recent publications from UNEP were featured, including a sobering update to global coral bleaching projections and the beautifully illustrated report Out of the Blue: The Value of Seagrasses to the Environment and to People. The Reef-World team highlighted several new Green Fins materials online to promote environmentally responsible practices in the marine tourism industry, including their comprehensive Dive Operator Handbook and Dive Guide e-Course. Finally, a representative of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network previewed results of their 2020 global report on the status of coral reefs, set to be released in late March 2021.
The meeting was closed with remarks by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, whose foundation supports a range of worldwide initiatives such as the Global Fund for Coral Reefs and others addressing ocean acidification, plastic pollution, climate change and development of marine protected areas. He commended fellow ICRI Secretariat co-chairs Australia and Indonesia for their commitment and encouraged all members to continue pursuing hand-in-hand actions spanning science, economics, politics and other aspects of society to save coral reefs.
Ilustratrated summary of Day 2’s Topics by Fanny Didou