Innovative UNDP-supported climate change adaptation project will restore reefs, protect food security and promote disaster risk reduction through ecosystem-based approach
The Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles, two small island developing states off the coast of Africa, have accessed a new US$10 million grant from the Adaptation Fund to restore their reef ecosystems.
The new six-year project, supported through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will focus on coral reef restoration which eventually will contribute to protect the island nation’s growing tourism industries – which account for over 30 percent of national GDP and employ approximately half the population in both countries – at the same time ensuring food security for fishers who depend on the reefs to feed their families, and reducing risks from high-intensity storms.
“With the recent IPCC Report indicating a potential total loss of the world’s reefs if nothing is done to slow down global warming, nations across the globe need to scale up actions to protect their reef ecosystems and the billions of dollars they bring each year from tourism, fisheries, and reduced risks from natural disasters,” said Christine Umutoni, UNDP Resident Representative for the two nations. “UNDP has been supporting small island developing states for over a decade now to protect reefs and promote ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change. This new project signals an important step for these African nations in reaching their goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.”
The project will develop sustainable partnerships and community-based, business-driven approaches for reef restoration, establish coral farming and nursery facilities, and actively restore degraded reefs. On a regional and global level, the project will improve understanding on how to use coral reef restoration as a tool for climate change adaptation, provide models for sustainable management of reef ecosystems, and build capacity for long-term restoration and management of these precious habitants.
According to the United Nations, at least 500 million people worldwide rely on coral reefs for food, coastal protection and livelihoods. UN estimates put the value of reef ecosystems at US$36 billion per year for tourism alone. They are also an essential ecosystem, protecting 25 percent of known marine species and protecting coastal communities from storm surges, rising seas and high-intensity weather events like cyclones.
According to the new UN climate report, hotter and more acidic waters resulting from carbon pollution are killing off the world’s reefs at an alarming rate. With a temperature rise of just 1.5°C, the world will lose about 80 percent of coral reefs, while rises above 2°C will kill off virtually all of the world’s coral reefs.