Collective knowledge is power when tackling the challenges faced by our climate-resilient coral reefs

1 May 2024

Article written by Erin Lord-Lynch, UQ's Knowledge Lead for the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative 

In October 2023, the University of Queensland in partnership with the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative, launched its Online Course CRRI101x Coral Reefs: Introduction to Challenges and Solutions. 

The course was developed for stakeholders of the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative and the WWF Global Environment Facility Coral Reef Rescue Project. The goal of this course is to connect a wide range of stakeholders from government and non-government organisations, academic and communities to a network of knowledge and best practice to identify solutions for the conservation of climate-resilient coral reefs.

The mission is to create a shared understanding amongst project stakeholders and a wider global audience to encourage enhanced collaboration and knowledge exchange – a significant barrier identified to successfully conserve coral reef ecosystems. Throughout the course learners are encouraged to connect and share their stories and experiences via a dedicated course discussion forum. 

The course is led by world-renowned marine scientist Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and includes contributions from a range of other experts in their field. The course is pitched at an introductory level and is organised into three parts that build on each other. It begins with an exploration of coral reef ecosystems and their value to both humans and the planet. Learners then unpack the current threats and challenges that these ecosystems face. The course is concluded with a look at some of the tools and solutions that are available to address the substantial challenges coral reefs face. 

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg presenting still from the MOOCs course on coral reef rescue

Since its launch in late 2023, the course has attracted over 500 learners from 80 countries including many from the GEF7 CRR target countries of Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesian, Philippines, Tanzania and Madagascar. One learner from Palawan in the Philippines stated:  

"Currently working for a local resort management, I am eager to equip my team of divers as well as community representatives [with] the knowledge to manage the reef area of a particular island in Coron, Palawan. This simple step will be the first and certainly will not be the last as we move forward to progress in the management of these reefs. Knowing the basics of coral reefs will supplement the knowledge base already with these people.”

The course includes a robust evaluation strategy for continuous learning and improvement. While the course has attracted very positive reviews and feedback, it has also provided opportunities for learning that the UQ team will implement moving forward.  

CRRI101x Coral Reef: Introduction to Challenges and Solutions represents the first in a suite of courses to be developed under the GEF7 CRR project. The UQ team is currently working with our in-country partners to determine the curriculum and learning strategies for these additional courses to be delivered in the coming years of the project.  

The learning opportunities made possible by CRR GEF7 go beyond online courses and includes several live virtual events and workshops and targeted support for the development of ongoing communities of practice among project stakeholders. This comprehensive learning program provides learners with the support they need to understand, contextualise and implement the strategies and tools needed to conserve our precious climate refuge coral reefs.   

About the project

The GEF 7 Coral Reef Rescue project is a global initiative that is working to safeguard globally significant climate refuge reefs in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar, and Tanzania. 

New free online learning opportunity on coral reef conservation availableRead original article on IW.Learn