At the conclusion of a three-year term, Monaco, Australia and Indonesia officially handed over their joint chairmanship of the ICRI to the United States of America in a virtual ceremony which H.S.H. Prince Albert II graced with his attendance.
The speakers set out the achievements resulting from implementation of the 2018–2020 action plan adopted during the 33rd ICRI General Meeting held in Monaco in December 2018. The plan was based around the following four themes:
- Promote effective solutions to improve the protection of coral reefs
- Understand the trends of coral reefs
- Improve understanding of the live reef food fish trade
- Reduce anthropogenic threats to coral reefs
The collaboration of all ICRI members has helped to highlight the environmental, social and economic value of coral reefs and the cumulative threats that they face, and to identify measures that can be recommended to policymakers.
In an international context characterised by preparations for a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework, the ICRI was able to build momentum as part of work on the Convention on Biological Diversity, enabling the latest scientific data on coral reefs and related ecosystems to be taken into account in the new global framework.
Monaco’s chairmanship, which is now coming to an end, also helped to energise the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), whose sixth report was officially launched at the handover.
The report presents the results of the largest analysis ever undertaken of the health of the world’s coral reefs. It highlights the impact of rising sea surface temperatures and the disappearance of 14% of coral surface area since 2009. However, the report shows that many of the world’s coral reefs remain resilient and can recover if conditions allow. This offers hope for the long-term health of coral reefs, provided immediate steps are taken to stabilise CO2 emissions and curb warming.
Under the leadership of H.E. Mr Bernard Fautrier, Special Advisor to H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince on Environmental Issues, several organisations were mobilised during the Principality’s chairmanship: the Prince Albert II Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation worked together to coordinate the ICRI Secretariat, and Monaco Scientific Centre made a significant contribution to reef restoration efforts.
Finally, another positive outcome of Monaco’s commitment was the 2020 launch of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs at the initiative of the Prince Albert II Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Foundation. Numerous states have since decided to support the fund.
Monaco will remain an active contributor to the ICRI and will support the new chair to continue work on protecting this fascinating marine wildlife.