At the close of the first week of the UN Climate Conference in Egypt, WCS is sounding a global call to action for governments around the world planning for climate change mitigation and adaptation: put coral reefs front and center.
Without urgent commitments to reduce climate emissions, the world is on track to warm 2.5℃ by 2100 (UNFCCC 2022). Substantial progress is needed for climate action at the COP27 negotiations to avoid global environmental and social catastrophes. Without strong targets to drive down emissions and decarbonize economies, the intense flooding, wildfires, drought, heat waves that are already impacting the Global South will continue to intensify and spread.
As the world prepares for climate consequences, safeguarding the resilience of coral reefs can help nearly one billion people adapt to the impacts of climate change1. Coral reefs provide livelihoods, health, food security and coastal protection; ecological services that will be urgently needed as local communities face off against climate change2. To advance adaptation action, we highlight the critical role of climate-resilient coral reefs for communities, economies, and biodiversity with particular focus on vulnerable populations – the poor, women, and Indigenous Peoples. With these five actions, WCS calls on governments to center coral reef resilience in national climate adaptation plans:
To successfully adapt to climate change, we need a healthy ocean. Climate resilient coral reefs result in more climate resilient communities. Governments must act to adapt – the lives and livelihoods of fishers and families all over the world depend on it.
1 Sing Wong, A. et al. Glob. Change Biol. gcb.16391 (2022)
2 Eddy, T. D. et al. One Earth 4, 1278–1285 (2021)
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6 Andrachuk, M. et al. 17 pp. (2022)
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8 Fuller, R. et al. Lancet Planet. Health 6, e535–e547 (2022)
9 Andrello, M. et al. Conserv. Lett. 15, (2022)
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11 Wakwella, A. et al. 22 pp. (2022)
12 Mellin, C. et al. Nat. Ecol. Evol. (2022)
13 MacNeil, M. A. et al. Nature 520, 341–344 (2015)
14 Andrachuk, M. et al. 16 pp. (2022)
15 McClanahan, T. R. Mar. Policy 128, 104478 (2021)
16 McClanahan, T. R. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 108, 17230–17233 (2011)
17 Perry, C. T. et al. Nature 558, 396–400 (2018)
Coral reefs are home to over a quarter of all life in the ocean, and are a source of food, livelihoods, coastal protection, and cultural heritage for nearly 1 billion people. For more than 70 years WCS has been underwater studying coral reefs - based on decades of partnerships with local communities and underwater scientific monitoring, we know that there are still healthy coral reefs located in climate refuges around the globe. From Kenya to Belize, Mozambique to Cuba, WCS is conserving reef biodiversity hotspots and supporting communities who depend on reefs to survive. We currently work across 16 countries to protect coral reefs and ensure that they can continue to provide for the people and species that rely on them.
Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.
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