We are pleased to announce that we have two fantastic plenary speakers this year:
Prof Andréa Grottoli
Ohio State University & President of the International Coral Reef Society
Rebuilding Coral Reefs - a Decadal Grand Challenge
This year and the following decade may offer the last chance for international, regional, national, and local entities, working synergistically, to change the trajectory of coral reefs from heading towards world-wide collapse to heading toward recovery. Here, I present the findings of the science-to-policy paper, sponsored by the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS), highlighting relevant key advances in natural and social science. These advances must be used to inform three interdependent pillars of action, including on-going negotiations at the global level, for the future survival of reefs: 1. Reduce global climate change threats by establishing and following through on commitments such as the Paris Agreement, increasing carbon sequestration preferably through nature-based solutions, and halting biodiversity loss; 2. Improve local conditions to build resilience through active coordination among agencies at all levels of government for protection of reefs and surrounding coastlines and improving management for coral reef resilience; 3. Invest in active restoration to enhance recovery to maintain or restore reef biodiversity, coupled with support for innovation. The paper sets out clearly defined asks of the international policy community along with options for action to be taken now and over the coming decade. ICRS wishes to see these actions taken up by governments and other relevant bodies, applied across international policy frameworks, and appropriate implementation mechanisms developed and adequately funded to ensure the protection and restoration of coral reefs long-term. The science-to-policy paper presented here forms the foundation for ICRS’s positions in relation to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Prof Nick Graham
Coral reefs under dynamic change
Confronting the coral reef crisis requires multi-scale approaches to urgently limit global warming, to reduce local pressures on coral reefs, and to identify interventions that promote coral dominated reefs. However, even under the most optimistic of scenarios, coral reefs will continue to change dramatically. While some reefs have and will transition away from coral-dominated communities, others will change substantially in coral species composition. These dynamics also result in substantial reorganisation of reef fish communities. The science determining what these changes mean for coral reef ecology, management, and the people who depend on these ecosystems, is nascent. Ecologically, reefs are moving distribution, novel assemblages are emerging, and the species key to ecosystem functions are in flux. The outcomes of common coral reef management approaches are changing, and the ability to manage for multiple objectives is increasingly challenging. It is important to reflect on whether the scales of responses align with the changing scales of the pressures coral reefs are facing. The transformation of coral reefs has substantial ramifications for human health, including atoll habitability, food security, diseases, and wellbeing. In this talk I will discuss some of these implications of coral reef change, and highlight how much we need to learn.