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GFCR UN Ocean Conference Engagement

The 2022 UN Ocean Conference is a crucial opportunity for states, philanthropies, and private investors to accelerate action to improve ocean health. As the largest global mechanism dedicated to SDG14, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) is convening world leaders and leading experts throughout the Conference with an aim to propel critical science-based solutions.

From 27 June to 1 July in Lisbon, Portugal, the GFCR is presenting our powerful public-private coalition and global portfolio of blended finance programmes designed to scale climate resilience for reef ecosystems and coastal communities. Leading experts are demonstrating GFCR’s pipeline of “reef-positive” business models and financial solutions, as well as de-risking mechanisms, structured to unlock private investment to scale impact. By offering the best-in-class mechanism to deliver on worldwide calls for scaled ocean action and resources, the GFCR presents as a concrete solution to deliver on SDG14 ambitions.

On the morning of the UN Ocean Conference commencement, the GFCR and UN Environment Programme held a high-level breakfast with actor Jason Momoa, UN Environment Programme’s Advocate for Life Below Water. At the breakfast, the stage was set to scale up action for coral reefs, underscoring the intrinsic link between coral, ocean and human health. As a leader in facilitating action to solve environmental issues and founding member of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, UNEP’s role as co-host further emphasised the central role of coral reefs in addressing climate issues and recognized the contributions and potential of the GFCR coalition members.

The kickoff breakfast marked the first time coalition members have met in person since the launch of the Fund, following a successful first year of operations with 7 programmes launched, 15 programmes under development, over 150 million USD mobilised for coral reefs. This moment served as a powerful reminder of the progress that can be achieved through cross-sector collaboration, as well as an invocation of the urgent action still needed to save coral reefs.

For the first in-person Executive Board meeting since the launch of the GFCR, board members, partners, and convening agents will gather to review programmes under development and the GFCR’s Sector-Based Investment Principles. The sessions included a spotlight on the concept of GFCR’s second programme in Indonesia, implementation updates, and a broader discussion on the Fund’s future vision. The Executive Board meeting concluded with a closed decision session where Board members deliberated pending decisions.

At the Sustainable Blue Economy Investment Forum (SBEIF), the GFCR announced new commitments totalling USD $18 million with the addition of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Builders Vision to its growing Coalition. The GFCR was also showcased as the largest blended finance initiative focused on ocean-positive economic transition through its inclusion in Panel 6: Circular Economy Investment for Sustainable Blue Economy.

The SBEIF, co-hosted by the the Governments of Portugal and Kenya, took place in Cascais, Portugal with a main objective to launch a process for designing the blue economy’s sustainable framework global standard, to be used in financial instruments, investment decisions and business.

This official side-event hosted by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (UNOHRLLS), and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) explored partnerships, ocean science and the various sources of finance needed to accelerate sustainable ocean-based economies and resilience in SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs.

On 29 June, the GFCR will be taking over the ‘Racing for the Planet’ VO65 racing yacht for a call-to-action voyage series. The series titled ‘Racing Against Reef Extinction’ will amplify awareness for the urgent crisis facing coral reefs globally. UN officials, state representatives, business executives, as well as high-level ocean champions, will take part in short visibility voyages setting sail in front of the UN Ocean Conference Arena. The yacht will be painted with GFCR branding and coral reef sails will be hoisted for maximum awareness raising. Media will be invited to the boat launch as the high-level representatives issue calls for action as we are “racing against time to save coral reefs”.

This high-level reception will celebrate the progress of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs and acknowledge the acceleration of resources and action needed to protect coral reef ecosystems. As founding members of the Fund, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, will present the powerful and growing coalition of philanthropies, Member States, UN agencies, and private sector impact investors driving positive change for coral reefs and coastal communities globally.

Over 90% of investors are interested in the sustainable ocean economy, but there are limited vehicles that can help channel large-scale capital. In this roundtable, we will discuss one of the best examples of blended finance for the ocean: the Global Fund for Coral Reefs. The event will bring together a diverse set of stakeholders including governments, institutional and impact investors, development finance institutions, donor agencies and climate funds, philanthropies, NGOs, civil society and entrepreneurs. The breakfast session will include a deep dive on Indonesia as a demonstration of a strong, investable ocean pipeline and hear from participants on how to streamline transactions to accelerate action.

This side event addresses ways by which scientific and innovative approaches to ocean-based socio-economic development could effectively integrate long standing concepts of coastal management, ocean planning and ecosystem-based management. A ‘Blue Society’ incorporates culture into the pillars of a Blue Economy, involving civil society in socio-economic development because every human being on earth depends on the ocean for survival.

Additionally, this side event will focus on scientific, financial and innovative solutions that address the constraints to scaling up ocean action towards the implementation of Goal 14, including through fresh approaches to integrating various development and management frameworks and paradigms as well as relevant initiatives in pursuit of wider SDG impact.

This focused event will provide an overview of what makes a business “reef-positive”, followed by a panel of innovators working with support from the Global Fund for Coral Reefs to develop and finance coral reef positive enterprises at a range of scales. This session will explore the characteristics of certain business models, including their ability to achieve the Fund’s core “protect-transform-restore-recover” outcomes while producing a return on investment. The event’s panel will include some leading innovators in revenue positive coral reef conservation who are actively engaged in the GFCR’s priority ecosystem programmes.

This evening event will recognise the leading initiatives driving innovation and scaling resilience in coral reef ecosystems globally. With top global experts amplifying the need for accelerating action; this event will further serve to launch the new G20 initiative, the Coral Research & Development Accelerator Platform (CORDAP).

This networking breakfast to be held on the final day of the UN Ocean Conference will showcase science-based approached to investable coral reef resilience.

At this press conference, the panel will discuss the critical need to bridge the SDG14 funding gap through both public and private funding, new financial commitments to the GFCR by global philanthropies, and the need to capitalize and support this first UN Fund dedicated to SDG14.

Panelists include H.E. Ambassador Peter Thomson, UNSG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean; Mr. James Lindsay, Vice President – Investments, Builders Vision; and Mr. Chuck Cooper, GFCR Executive Board Chair & Managing Director, Government Affairs, Vulcan.

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