The Coral Reef Economy


United Nations Environment

Billions to be gained in coral reef investment, new analysis shows

The Coral Reef Economy is a report comparing the estimated economic outcomes of two very different scenarios involving the Coral Triangle and the Mesoamerican Reef from now until 2030. Scenario One is that of a Healthy Reef, where increased investment in protection and prevention has been taken to return reefs a to healthy state. Scenario Two is that of a Degraded Reef where reefs are left to continue declining from the current levels.

If a change is implemented ensuring coral reef health is improved, instead of falling into further decline, between now and 2030 an additional $37 billion ($2.6 billion per annum) in Indonesia and an additional $35 billion ($2.5 billion per annum) in Mesoamerica in three key reef-dependent sectors: tourism; commercial fisheries; and coastal development will be available. Under this healthy reef scenario, live coral cover (identified as a key marker of coral reef health) is expected to increase to 14.1 per cent in Mesoamerica and 36.4 per cent in the Coral Triangle by 2030.

In contrast, if coral reefs are left without additional protection they will continue to decline, in the Degraded Reef scenario the value of reefs in the three key sectors could fall in real terms by $2.2 billion in Indonesia and $3.1 billion in Mesoamerica per annum by 2030 compared to today. Under this scenario, live coral cover is expected to decline from an average of 3.7 per cent in 2017 to 1.6 per cent in 2030 in Mesoamerica, and from 16.6 per cent to 11 per cent in the Coral Triangle.

“Investing in coral reefs offers a significant prize, not only economic, but importantly also for the marine life, and coastal populations who depend so heavily on healthy coral reefs for their food, livelihoods and protection.” Jerker Tamelander, head of UN Environment’s coral reef unit

The facts are coral reefs provide food, livelihoods and economic opportunity for more than half a billion people in over 100 countries. They provide coastal protection from increasing extreme weather events; they are also teeming with life, hosting a quarter of all known marine species, and yet if changes are not made we are set to lose 90% of coral reefs within the next 30 years.

A number of policies and interventions are currently available to governments and the private sector that could produce a financial net benefit and positive return on investment for stakeholders. The protection and management of coral reefs has been predominantly funded by the public sector, however, it is becoming clear at current levels that this is insufficient.  The interventions modelled in the Coral Reef Economy report could be implemented in each region to help alleviate key coral reef stressors, such as overfishing, erosion and improper wastewater management in the short to medium term.

Original Source: UN Environment