In recent decades, the delicate coral reefs we love to explore have become indicators of our planet’s ongoing crisis - the ‘canaries in the mine’ for climate change. According to the Conservation Finance Alliance, reefs cover just 0.2% of the ocean’s surface yet are home to some 30% of its biodiversity! But unfortunately, without a major shift in how the oceans are protected, coral reefs could face extinction by 2050.

To divers, these thriving underwater ecosystems are priceless, simply for the experiences they offer. But around the world, reefs are of vital importance to large numbers of people that live nearby, and even entire economies - in fact estimates of their value run into billions or even trillions of dollars every year. However current levels of funding for the conservation of reefs falls far short of what is needed. Thankfully, the Conservation Finance Alliance recently announced their support for an inspirational 500 million USD investment in reef conservation over the next ten years.

To make this fund a reality, a passionate group of philanthropists, financial institutions and UN agencies have joined forces to develop the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR). The aim of the GFCR will be to “facilitate private return-based investments” and “support businesses and finance mechanisms that improve the health and sustainability of coral reefs”.

The GFCR will make investments to businesses based on the following criteria:

  • Protecting priority coral reef sites and areas with climate change resilient organisms
  • Facilitating the transition towards sustainable livelihoods of reef-dependent communities
  • The implementation of coral reef restoration and adaptation technologies
  • Recovery of coral reef-dependent communities after major shocks

While funding opportunities are not expected until 2021, the GFCR welcomes information on businesses and sites which may be worthy of future investment. Without a doubt, this is a huge step forward for coral reef conservation and a vital lifeline for many small initiatives struggling to survive.