As described in the last issue of Reef Encounter, 2018 has been designated as the third IYOR. This provides an opportunity to build the critical mass of public attention that is needed to initiate the fundamental policy and behavioural changes required to save coral reef ecosystems. IYOR 2018 will be a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability and to motivate governments, communities and people to act to protect them.
Scientific understanding of coral reef ecosystems has increased dramatically over the last 20 years and, in comparison to the first and second IYORs held in 1997 and 2008, there is now broad consensus about the key challenges. IYOR 2018 will help to bring the informed opinions of global scientific leaders to policy-makers worldwide, demonstrating that inaction and business-as-usual is no longer possible. IYOR is aimed at responding to the following calls for action:
- Increased efforts by governments, the private sector and civil society to reduce CO2 emissions.
- A step-change in the effectiveness of local and regional governance of tropical coastal and marine ecosystems, including greater attention on marine spatial planning, building local stewardship for fisheries management and marine protected areas, and recognizing and addressing the impacts of land-based activities (mining, agriculture, waste-disposal etc.) on the marine environment.
- Ensuring that policy makers understand the full ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems.
Thus ISRS members and reef conservationists should encourage their governments to support the Paris Accord and the target reductions in atmospheric CO2 that the signatories have pledged to achieve.