Over 40 countries pledge to raise $12 billion to help coral reefs

A coalition of 45 countries, including the U.S., promised to raise $12 billion to protect and restore coral reefs threatened by climate change.

On Tuesday, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) announced a new initiative called the Coral Reef Breakthrough, aiming to protect roughly 48,262 square miles of coral reefs.

The ICRI says the move is vital for at least 25% of the world’s marine species and over a billion people, especially vulnerable coastal communities that rely on healthy coral reefs for their daily lives.

“The functional existence of these critical ecosystems is at stake due to the climate crisis and a myriad of other anthropogenic stressors,” the ICRI said in a statement. “The window for protecting these ecosystems is closing rapidly.”

Oceans absorb 90% of human-induced excess heat, killing coral reefs, and with funding, the ICRI aims for at least 30% of coral restoration by 2030, mitigating their endangered status.

“The world has lost 14% of the coral on its coral reefs since 2009, and with ever-increasing pressures from climate change, the window for protecting these ecosystems is closing rapidly,” the ICRI said. “To reverse this downward trajectory, we must accelerate resources and action to stop local and global drivers of decline and scale cost-efficient solutions to enable the survival and recovery of resilient coral reefs on a global scale.”

If they succeed and conserve at least 50% of the world’s coral reefs, the results can generate over $18 billion from tourism, preserve vital fishing areas, and protect $5.5 billion in coastal economic value, the initiative says.

Further discussion on the plan will take place during the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai.