The climate refuge coral reef rescue journey

29 January 2024

Article by Dr Joelle Albert, UQ International Development

Introducing the Coral Reef Rescue: Resilient Coral Reefs, Resilient Communities Project

Coral reef ecosystems face a massive crisis worldwide. The global pressure of climate change, along with local human-induced pressures, are contributing to the rapid deterioration of coral reef ecosystems, jeopardizing the lives of the millions of people who rely on these coastal resources.

While the climate future is dire, where there is resilience there is hope. The identification of climate refuge reefs (reefs that have lower exposure to climate change stress), provides this hope as a source for the regeneration of future reefs in a climate-stabilized world.

The Coral Reef Rescue: Resilient Coral Reefs, Resilient Communities Project (CRR GEF), funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF),  has embarked on its epic journey to safeguard globally significant climate refuge reefs in six countries Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar and Tanzania.

The CRR GEF project is a multi-stakeholder project that contributes to the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative (CRRI).

The core components of the project are (the following):
  1. Promote global to local knowledge and capacity strengthening for climate refuge reef conservation.
  2. Establish inclusive governance and planning processes addressing local threats to coral refuge reefs.
  3. Support the alignment of co-finance and mobilization of investment opportunities that support coral refuge reef conservation.
  4. Facilitate communication and awareness of the significance of climate refuge reefs to ensure their survival.

The project’s extensive team, consisting of implementing, executing, and CRRI partner agency representatives gathered in Bali, Indonesia to develop a shared understanding of the project and its contribution to the broader Coral Reef Rescue Initiative, and to undertake participatory project planning. 

Participants at the Coral Reef Rescue Inception Workshop - some kneeling, some standing - all smiling to camera
Participants at the Coral Reef Rescue Inception Workshop in Bali, Indonesia. Photo credit: Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, UQ.


Early achievements include the release of the project’s first Massive Open Online Learning Course (MOOC), developed by UQ’s School of Environment to provide the opportunity for global learners to build and share knowledge.  Building on initial modules developed by the CRRI, the MOOC Challenges and Solutions for Coral Reef Conservation and Management is now available for online learners.  

Grant Thomas/ Ocean Image Bank
Photo credit: Grant Thomas / Ocean Image Bank

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