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COP28 Action for Coral Reefs

Following the adoption of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) is positioned to serve as a catalyst for action at the nexus of biodiversity and climate. This has further been confirmed by the COP28 Climate Change High-Level Champion, H.E. Razan Al Mubarak who stated “At COP28, we are putting nature and inclusivity at the heart of our agenda. COP28 will be a COP of action, and it will be a COP where the global south will be front and centre.”

With a spotlight on the ocean as a major climate ally, COP28 aims to foster climate and nature co-benefits through the promotion of innovative financing mechanisms and acceleration of private sector commitments.

Action for nature, and particularly the ocean, is incomplete without action for coral reefs. Coral reefs, covering less than 1% of the ocean floor, house over a quarter of all marine life—even more than a tropical rainforest. Healthy coral reefs are the foundation of resilience for more than 1 billion people who depend on them for their livelihoods and sustenance. However, our window of opportunity to stop the first functional extinction of an entire ecosystem in our lifetime is quickly closing.

The launch of the 2030 Coral Reef Breakthrough marks a watershed moment to save one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. As part of the Ocean Breakthroughs – a set of global targets to accelerate ocean-climate actions – the Coral Reef Breakthrough will contribute to delivering on the ambitions of the Sharm El Sheik Adaptation Agenda and GBF.  

The High-Level Climate Champions (HLCC), under the leadership of H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, have prioritised the launch of the 2030 Coral Reef Breakthrough in 2023, in collaboration with the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR). 

For the first time, the Coral Reef Breakthrough has established global targets to prevent the functional extinction of coral reefs:

– Target One: Secure the future of at least 125,000 km2 of shallow-water tropical coral reefs; and

– Target Two: Achieve investments of US$12 billion by 2030.

As one of the key global financial instruments for the Breakthrough, GFCR presents at COP28 as an investment-ready pathway for both donors and investors to scale science-based coral reef solutions. 

At COP28, the GFCR Coalition members aim to:

Launch the Coral Reef Breakthrough;

– Showcase GFCR as a global tool designed to accelerate finance and effective, sustainable on-the-ground implementation; 

– Present GFCR’s resilience-focused portfolio of blended finance solutions with entry points ready for public and private investment;

– Launch new announcements

– Showcase financial commitments mobilised toward to the Coral Reef Breakthrough to date; and

Mobilise greater commitments to scale solutions at the ocean-climate nexus. 

Throughout COP28 events and meetings, GFCR’s Coalition members and partners, including representatives of coral nations and donor governments, UN Agencies, conservation actors, private investors, philanthropies, and entrepreneurs, will showcase how blended finance is accelerating resilience-focused action for coral reefs and vulnerable coastal communities. 

The GFCR Coalition representatives will engage throughout the COP28 through events, investor convenings, media engagements, and strategic meetings with leaders, investors and experts.

Climate-Forward Ocean Conservation Strategies to Deliver on Global Targets

Time: 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM GST
Venue: Nature Positive Pavilion, Blue Zone, & Livestream

The Climate-Forward Ocean Conservation Strategies event will showcase the importance of the Mangrove and Coral Reef Breakthroughs within the broader context of international targets, while emphasising the need for integrated climate resilience and biodiversity preservation strategies. These integrated efforts, reinforced by the GBF, underscore the urgency of these initiatives within the broader context of international sustainability objectives, highlighting the interdependence of climate resilience, biodiversity preservation, and the collective responsibility for a sustainable future. As the coming UN Ocean Conference 2025 will include a stocktaking of progress to achieve ocean-related targets at the midway point to 2030, this event will further feature key leaders and leading experts discussing the road map to Nice and ambitions for the much-anticipated convening. 

This session will be hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies, GFCR, TNC, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Race to Resilience, Ocean & Climate Platform, and the Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA). Join this event to learn about the critical importance of these collective actions as well as the concrete pathways forward to deliver solutions at scale: Event Registration Link.

Sustainable Financing Model for Marine Protection and Production

Time: 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM GST
Venue: Ocean Solutions Pavilion by OceanX, Blue Zone

In the face of escalating climate change, it is vital for key stakeholders to bring together the “twin pillars” of ocean conservation: protection and production. This entails reinvesting economic gains from marine activities into safeguarding the marine environment, creating a sustainable cycle. This upcoming event, which will take place at the Indonesia Pavilion, aims to showcase Indonesia’s pioneering strategies for addressing climate change through a sustainable blue economy, including the GFCR reef-positive blended finance programmes in Indonesia as well as the Blue Halo S initiative. Additionally, this session will explore opportunities to harmonise marine-coastal protection and sustainable economic activities, fostering cooperation, knowledge exchange, and the potential for global replication.

This event is jointly organised by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries RI, Ministry of Environment and Forestry RI, Conservation International, Konservasi Indonesia, GFCR, The Nature Conservancy, and Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara.

Solutions Toolbox to Save Coral Reefs

Time: 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM GST
Venue: Ocean Pavilion, Blue Zone, Livestream

Coral reefs, both economically valuable and highly biodiverse, face escalating threats from climate change and human activities. In response to this pressing global challenge, the Reef Solutions Toolbox, an extensive collection of tools and solutions for coral reef preservation, has significantly expanded in scope and depth. This event is dedicated to showcasing and deliberating the multifaceted tools from the realms of science, finance, politics, and community engagement that are being developed and deployed to safeguard coral reefs.

This session is organised by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-hosted by the GFCR, International Coral Reef Society (ICRS), Coral Research and Development Accelerator Platform (CORDAP), Coral Restoration Consortium (CRC), and ICRI.

Building the New, Blue Economy: Investing for Sustainable Oceans & Climate

Time: 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM GST
Venue: By invitation*

Hosted by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (PA2MF), this high-level convening on the sidelines of COP28 aims  to boost private investments in ocean-positive solutions and bridge the coral reef funding gap.  This session will offer state officials and private sector leaders the opportunity to learn and interact with tangible ocean-positive investments and the supporting high-impact financing vehicles for the sustainable blue economy. 

Topics covered will  include GFCR’s blended finance approach as a model to achieve triple-bottom-line returns, investment strategies at the ocean-climate nexus, climate adaptation and mitigation impact generation, as well as case studies of investment deals already underway, including GFCR’s recent investment in Carbonwave. Attendees will also hear about GFCR’s position as a private investment vehicle for the new Coral Reef Breakthrough. 

*Please note, in-person attendance at this event is by invitation only.

Opening of the Blue Ecosystems Pavilion and Waterside Chat

Time: 9:30 AM to 10:15 AM GST
Venue: UNEP Pavilion
, Blue Zone

Led by UNEP, the event will be facilitated by Leticia Carvalho, Head of UNEP Marine & Freshwater, featuring speakers such as UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors Dia Mirza and Rocky Dawuni, alongside GCFR Frontline Youth Ambassador from the Philippines, Grace Catapang, and Susan Gardner, UNEP Ecosystems Director. Each speaker will underscore the vital importance of blue ecosystem health, emphasising the practical need to address challenges and advocate for solutions to ensure the sustainability of our ecosystems.

Partnerships to Improve Blue Carbon Market Integrity

Time: 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM GST
Venue: UNEP Pavilion
, Blue Zone

Led by GRID-Arendal, this event aims to illuminate the evolving landscape of the blue carbon market – a recognised climate solution. Focused on the intersection of climate action, social justice, and environmental sustainability, the gathering will feature Grace Catapang, GFCR Frontline Youth Ambassador, who will discuss the perspective of coastal communities and underscore the need for integrity in blue carbon market projects. Attendees will gain insights into diverse national experiences, risks, and opportunities, emphasising the pivotal role of collaborative partnerships across sectors in ensuring verifiable blue carbon market actions.

COP28 Coral Reef Breakthrough Launch Event

Time: 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM GST (main event)
Venue: In-person by invitation* & Livestream

The High-Level launch event of the 2030 Coral Reef Breakthrough will mark a watershed moment in global action to save the world’s most threatened ecosystem. This event, led by the GFCR and in partnership with HLCC Race to Resilience, ICRI, UNEP, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and UNCDF, will launch the newly first-ever global targets for coral reef action through the Coral Reef Breakthrough, along with the announcement of new actions and financial commitments from both public and private leaders. The session will feature the championship of the Breakthrough by coral nations and ocean-action leaders, as well as  presentation of its pivotal role in expanding the scale of actions and funding. The final segment of the event will offer an opportunity for further discussion on the road to achievement of Breakthrough targets among global change-makers, including private sector leaders, state representatives and policymakers, high-level UN officials, conservation actors, and renowned scientists.

Please note, in-person attendance at this event is by invitation only. Join this event virtually: Event Registration Link.

Ocean Climate Solutions Dialogues and Ocean Climate Spotlights

Time: 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM GST
Venue: OceanX + Ocean Decade Pavilion

OceanX and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) are co-hosting a prominent pavilion within the Blue Zone of COP28. The Ocean Climate Solutions Dialogues and Ocean Climate Spotlights will champion the crucial role of science, media, technology, and education in advancing ocean-based solutions for climate action and sustainable development.

During this session, Grace Catapang, GFCR Frontline Youth Representative and Communication and Science Coordinator for Blue Alliance (BA) Philippines, will deliver a 10-minute presentation on the innovative approach of the GFCR-supported Philippines programme. Grace will shed light on the reef-positive businesses BA Philippines is developing and how they aim to establish an innovative blended finance facility to support Marine Protected Areas.

From Pledges to Action for Coral

Time: 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM GST
Venue: Science for Climate Action Pavilion, Blue Zone & Livestream

Organised by the G20 CORDAP, this event aims to underscore the interconnectedness of the GBF with coral restoration efforts, emphasising the role of healthy coral reefs in achieving sustainable seas and 30% of marine ecosystems recovering or under protection. Additionally, the session intends to foster collaboration among governments, organisations, and communities for the effective implementation of coral restoration projects in alignment with the GBF, through open discussions about the challenges, barriers, and innovative solutions in coral restoration within the framework of sustainable development.

COP28 Virtual Ocean Pavilion: Connecting All on Our Incredible Blue Planet

Time: 3:00 to 4:30 PM GST

Hosted by GFCR, GMA, ICRI, UNDP, and HLCC, this virtual event will center around the Ocean Breakthroughs which are integral to the Sharm el Sheikh Adaptation Agenda and the Global Biodiversity Framework. The session will feature in-depth presentations on the Mangrove and Coral Reef Breakthroughs, highlighting both the Breakthroughs’ spatial and financial targets. The event aims to elevate public awareness and garner support for these impactful initiatives, emphasising the power of collective engagement to catalyse global climate action.

Harnessing the Power of Society and the Private Sector #ForCoral

Time: 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM GST
Venue: Ocean Pavilion, Blue Zone

Coral reefs confront a critical juncture marked by escalating threats, including rising temperatures, pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction, pushing them towards the precipice of collapse. Urgent action is vital, and a concerted global effort is needed to safeguard the future of coral reefs.

Hosted by CORDAP, this event will highlight the necessity for a judicious, comprehensive, multilevel approach, underscoring collaboration among the private sector, key stakeholders, research institutions, and society. Addressing aspects of international collaboration, funding mechanisms, and donor support, the event aims to delineate a strategic trajectory towards a future where coral ecosystems can thrive.

Coral Conservation in the Red Sea

Time: 12:40 PM to 1:25 PM
Venue: Technology & Innovation Stage, Green Zone

The coral reefs of the Red Sea, situated along the Egyptian coastline, are invaluable ecological treasures, teeming with biodiversity. However, they face severe challenges which pose a significant risk to the health and sustainability of the Red Sea reefs, necessitating immediate intervention. Coral Conservation in the Red Sea, an event organised by [TBC] and co-organised by Coral Vita, emerges as a critical event, bringing together non-governmental experts on reef ecosystems and stakeholders deeply intertwined with the Red Sea region. The focus of this gathering is to ignite collaboration and action to preserve and protect the fragile coral ecosystems in the Egyptian Red Sea, which are currently under threat from an array of human and natural stressors. During this session GFCR representatives will shed light on GFCR’s regional approach, including efforts underway for blended finance programming in Egypt and Jordan.

Unheard Voices: Emerging Leadership in Coral Conservation and Restoration from the Global South

Time: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM GST
Venue: Science for Climate Action Pavilion, Blue Zone & Livestream

Organised by G20 CORDAP, this event aims to amplify the often overlooked voices of the Global South. These countries situated closer to the frontlines of coral reef degradation are developing or low-income countries that bear the brunt of the consequences while striving to lead in coral conservation and restoration efforts. Despite these challenges, the Global South has showcased remarkable pioneering approaches in coral conservation and restoration, inspiring the world with their resilience and innovative strategies. In this event, leaders, coral experts, and youth advocates will come together to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of the Global South on coral restoration and conservation and address the unique struggles in safeguarding corals and coral reefs.

Implementation Lab: Accelerating Nature-based Solutions for Coastal Resilience: Financing and Policy Tools

Time: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM GST
Venue: Lab 1 (Al Shaheen)

This upcoming roundtable, organised by the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) and co-organized by Conservation International (CI) and Ocean & Climate Platform, will delve into the practical implementation of nature-based solutions for coastal adaptation and resilience on a large scale. The event’s primary focus will revolve around financing, investment, and policy pathways. Real-world success stories of nature-based solutions for coastal resilience will be presented, along with strategies for taking these solutions beyond the conceptual stage. The discussion will also illuminate available policy and financing tools that can expedite these solutions, with a particular emphasis on the synergy between green-grey infrastructure and foundational financial mechanisms to establish a conducive environment.

The event is designed to involve a diverse range of stakeholders, including policy-makers, businesses, municipalities, regions, youth representatives, civil society, and indigenous peoples, ensuring a comprehensive and inclusive perspective.

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