The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice,
Taking note of the analysis of the effects of the physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs as contained in annex II to the note prepared by the Executive Secretary for the sixth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/4), drawing upon the suggestions in annex I of the present recommendation, for the integration of the issue of physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs into programme element 2 of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity,
1. Endorses the following text as operational objective 2.3, for the integration of coral reefs into programme element 2 of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity:
2. Invites the Executive Secretary to promote and facilitate the implementation of the specific work plan on coral bleaching, as contained in annex II to the present recommendation and the work plan on physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs as contained in annex I thereto, setting priorities as appropriate, with special emphasis on small island developing States and the least developed States, in collaboration with the International Coral Reef Initiative and its partners, the regional seas programmes of the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational. Scientific and Cultural Organization, and other relevant organizations;
3. Invites the Executive Secretary to develop further the work plan on physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs as contained in annex I to the present recommendation;
4. Recommends that the Conference of the Parties examine the need for support through the financial mechanism to developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, for country-driven activities aimed at enhancing capabilities to address the impacts of mortality related to coral bleaching and physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs, including developing rapid response capabilities to implement measures to address coral-reef degradation, mortality and subsequent recovery.
(a) Assessments and indicators. To provide a comprehensive analysis of the status and trends of global coral-reef ecosystems, taking into account the note by the Executive Secretary on progress report on the implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, including the integration of coral reefs prepared for the sixth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/4), the including determination of indicators for continued monitoring and the determination of ecological and socio-economic impacts of coral-reef degradation and destruction.
(b) Management. To identify management practices, technologies and policies that promote the conservation and sustainable use of coral-reef ecosystems and their associated marine biological diversity, with a view to addressing recognized threats (i.e., overfishing, coastal development, destructive fishing practices, land-based pollution, marine-based pollution and recreational use) and identifying sustainable management approaches.
(c) Capacity-building. To strengthen the capacities of Parties, regions, local communities and other stakeholders to manage sustainably coral-reef ecosystems and their associated marine biological diversity, so as to maintain their ecosystem benefits and to promote awareness and responsible action to prevent and mitigate physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs and their effects on marine biological diversity.
(d) Financing. To recognize and promote existing programmes and mobilize further mechanisms for financial and technical development assistance to support implementation of activities addressing the physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs.
(e) Education and public awareness. To educate and inform the public, policy makers and other stakeholders of ecological and socio-economic values of coral-reef ecosystems and the importance of an ecosystem approach towards their conservation and sustainable management.
Ways and means
Activities under this operational objective will be implemented primarily at the national and regional levels under the guidance of the Executive Secretary and SBSTTA, and in collaboration with relevant organizations and agencies, recognizing the value of the capacity established through the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and its operational units.
Objective: To gather and assimilate information on, build capacity to mitigate the effects of, and to promote policy development and implementation strategies to address the impacts of coral bleaching and related mortality on coral-reef ecosystems and the human communities which depend upon coral reef services, including through financial and technical assistance.
1. Information gathering
(a) Implement and coordinate targeted research programmes, including predictive modelling, that investigate: (1) the tolerance limits and adaptation capacity of coral-reef species to acute and chronic increases in sea-surface temperature; (2) the relationship among large-scale coral-bleaching events, global warming, and the more localized threats that already place reefs at risk; and (3) the frequency and extent of coral-bleaching and related mortality events, as well as their impacts on ecological, social and economic systems.
(i) The Ad Hoc Study Group on Indicators of Coral Bleaching and Subsequent Effects was established in September 2000 under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC/UNESCO) with three major objectives: to develop possible molecular, cellular, physiological, and community indicators of coral bleaching that are reliable in their ability to detect early stress signals; to examine potential mechanisms of reef corals for adaptation/acclimatization to global environmental change; to investigate long-term response of reef corals to large-scale changes in environmental variables. The group will meet annually for three years and distribute findings through annual reports and a final publication.
(ii) The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) is a global network of coral-reef scientists, Governments and local communities for monitoring and assessment of coral reefs, in terms of both biophysical and socio-economic parameters needed for management. GCRMN is co-hosted by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the World Fish Center (ICLARM). ICLARM also hosts ReefBase, the official database of GCRMN, with data of over 8,000 coral reefs around the world. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), together with IOC/UNESCO, is a sponsor of the GCRMN and a member of the GCRMN Management Group and the GCRMN Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee.
(iii) GCRMN has developed a comprehensive Status of Coral Reefs of the World report to be updated every two years, the most recent edition having been published in October 2000.
(iv) UNEP, through GCRMN, emphasizes the importance of monitoring socio-economic parameters to achieve sustainable use of coral reef ecosystems. A socio-economic manual has recently been developed (October 2000) for monitoring of these parameters for enhanced management capacity.
(v) Contributing to GCRMN are existing regional projects. Regional coral-reef monitoring networks within GCRMN exist for the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Wider Caribbean funded by the World Bank, with the goal of assisting in the conservation of the rich biodiversity of coral reefs and their socio-economic value, and in the sustainable management of their resources, through a monitoring network.
(vi) Under the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and ICLARM are exploring the integration and availability of map-based products through the WCMC website and through ReefBase.
(vii) Some projects within the CORDIO (Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean) programme in the Indian Ocean region focus on determining the socio-economic impacts of coral mortality and options for mitigating these through management and development of alternative-livelihoods projects investigating methodologies for preventing the introduction of invasive alien species may contribute to the overall health of clearing-house ecosystems, and thus to recovery from bleaching. The GloBallast pilot project of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is identifying prevention measures to combat introductions from ballast water discharges.
Specific tasks in addition to ongoing initiatives
(i) Provide scientific information on the survival of reef-building corals, including the potentially differing responses of a variety of reef systems (such as barrier and patch reefs) and degrees of isolation, under global warming to allow some prediction of the adaptation and survival of the biological diversity of coral reefs in coming decades.
(ii) Compile information on existing networks, databases and websites which can provide up-to-date information of the status of coral reefs and the threats thereto; and assess the quality of the data they contain and methodologies used for data collection and analysis.
(iii) Strengthen networks for data collection and dissemination of information on coral-reef status and interpretation of long-term trends resulting from global climate change and anthropogenic stresses to assist effective management and conservation.
(iv) Develop further target research programmes that investigate the impacts of coral bleaching and coral mortality events on social and economic systems.
(v) See activity (k) (i) below.
(b) Implement and coordinate baseline assessments and long-term monitoring to measure the biological and meteorological variables relevant to coral bleaching, mortality and recovery, as well as the socio-economic parameters associated with coral-reef services.
(i) The objectives of the Ad Hoc Study Group on Indicators of Coral Bleaching and Subsequent Effects referred to under activity (a) above include the identification of biological indicators that would facilitate long-term monitoring.
(ii) GCRMN currently serves as a network for clearing-house assessments and monitoring of biological variables relevant to coral bleaching, mortality and recovery, as well as many socio-economic parameters associated with coral-reef services (see activity (a) above).
(iii) Data repository and dissemination systems such as ReefBase may offer time-line biological data.
(iv) GCRMN, in coordination with the World Bank, IUCN, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and UNEP regional seas programmes, is targeting existing or planned marine protected areas as the focus of some of their monitoring activities. The sites may offer valuable baseline data and serve for long-term monitoring.
(v) GCRMN is currently developing a rapid-assessment methodology for socio-economic and biophysical parameters in the Eastern African region, especially for use in developing countries where limited resources do not always allow for regular high-intensive monitoring.
(vi) The UNEP Division of Environmental Information, Assessment and Early Warning coordinates a variety of information available from remote-sensing technologies and organizations that facilitates dissemination of such information. They are well suited to coordinating assessment of meteorological variables relevant to coral bleaching, mortality and recovery.
(vii) WCMC and ICLARM are exploring the integration and availability of map-based products through the WCMC website and through ReefBase.
Specific tasks in addition to ongoing initiatives
(i) Identify pilot projects that establish training programmes and survey protocols and enhance availability of expert advice at a range of scales, including classification of scale data.
(ii) Support ongoing assessment and monitoring initiatives, such as those of UNESCO, ICRAN, the regional seas conventions and action plans, GCRMN, UNEP and CORDIO.
(c) Develop a rapid response capability to document coral bleaching and mortality in developing countries and remote areas including establishment of training programmes, survey protocols, expert advice, and contingency fund or rapid release of special project funding.
(i) The objectives of the Ad Hoc Study Group on Indicators of Coral Bleaching and Subsequent Effects referred to under activity (a) above include the identification of physiological early-stress indicators in corals.
(ii) The Sida-SAREC and World Bank programme on coral-reef degradation in the Indian Ocean was initiated as a response to the 1998 coral-bleaching event (CORDIO).
(iii) GCRMN is currently developing a rapid assessment methodology for socio-economic and biophysical parameters in the Eastern African region, especially for use in developing countries where limited resources do not always allow for regular high-intensive monitoring (ReefCheck).
(iv) Within the ICRAN strategic plan, it is intended that these capabilities will be developed and made widely available.
(v) The UNEP Division of Environmental Information, Assessment and Early Warning coordinates a variety of information available from remote sensing technologies and organizations that facilitates dissemination of such information.
(i) Develop standardized training modules and manuals on detection and documentation of coral-bleaching events, mortality or recovery monitoring
(ii) Organize annual meetings in each region on coral-reef assessment and monitoring methods with particular emphasis on documenting coral bleaching, bleaching related mortality and subsequent recovery. These should be integrated into existing programmes, where possible (regional seas conventions and actions plans may have the best capacity to implement these measures).
(d) Encourage and support countries in the development and dissemination of status-of-the-reefs reports and case-studies on the occurrence and impacts of coral bleaching and related mortality.
(i) GCRMN has developed a comprehensive Status of Coral Reefs of the World report to be updated every two years, the most recent edition having been published in October 2000. This report is largely based on national and regional contributions.
(ii) The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in accordance with decision V/3, paragraph 7, of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention invited Parties to submit case-studies for dissemination through the clearing-house mechanism. The national reporting mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity facilitates the collection of information on the status of coral reefs and case-studies on the occurrence and impacts of coral bleaching.
(iii) The CORDIO Status Report 2000 offers reporting opportunities on the status of the reefs for Indian Ocean countries. The dissemination of this information through the CORDIO newsletter has facilitated further communication and coordination on local impacts.
(i) Support and expand existing networks and initiatives at the regional and national level conducting coral-reef status assessments and monitoring.
(ii) Strengthen dissemination of existing assessment and monitoring information on status of coral reefs and their threats through existing networks (under the ICRAN strategic plan, this is a core role of GCRMN and ReefBase).
(e) Extend the use of early-warning systems for coral bleaching by:
(i) Enhancing current NOAA AVHRR Hot Spot mapping by increasing resolution in targeted areas and carrying out ground-truth validation exercises;
(ii) Encouraging space agencies and private entities to maintain deployment of relevant sensors and to initiate design and deployment of specialized technology for shallow-oceans monitoring;
(iii) Making the products of remote sensing readily accessible at low cost to coral-reef scientists and managers worldwide, in particular to those scientists and managers that are based in developing countries.
(i) The UNEP Division of Environmental Information, Assessment and Early Warning coordinates a variety of information available from remote sensing technologies and organizations that facilitates dissemination of such information.
(ii) Under the ICRAN, WCMC and ICLARM are exploring the integration and availability of map-based products through the WCMC website and through ReefBase that include satellite and aerial imagery.
(i) Expand the use of existing early warning systems (e.g. NOAA early warning mapping) and support the development of Web-based early warning systems.
(ii) Develop local community capacity for remote and local level validation exercises.
(iii) Develop mechanisms to make accessible high-resolution multi-spectrum imagery worldwide.
(f) Support the training of and career opportunities for marine taxonomists, ecologists, and members of other relevant disciplines, particularly at the national and regional level.
(i) Various ongoing training activities not necessarily related to coral bleaching but to coral conservation issues, e.g. the Ramsar Wetlands for the Future training initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean; the regional seas programme for Caribbean protected area managers; various activities supported by aid agencies and global and regional development banks.
(ii) Many other training activities are carried out as components of wider projects and programmes. GCRMN is building capacity for coral-reef monitoring and assessments through training workshops, especially in developing countries.
(i) Further incorporate or support the issue of coral reefs and bleaching in the capacity-building activities of multilateral environmental agreements (e.g. Ramsar Convention, Cartagena Convention) and of their respective contracting parties.
(ii) Develop standardized training modules and manuals on detection and documentation of coral-bleaching events and subsequent recovery.
(iii) Organize annual meetings in each region on coral-reef assessment and monitoring methods with particular emphasis on documenting coral bleaching, bleaching-related mortality and subsequent recovery. These should be integrated into existing programmes, where possible.
(iv) Create scholarship trust funds in each region of the regional seas programmes to provide scholarships at graduate/postgraduate level to at least two people per region to undertake studies on coral-reef ecology and management.
(v) Promote exchange programmes between countries and/or regions.
(vi) Promote further coordination and collaboration of ongoing regional activities.
(vii) Promote the inclusion in national reports under the regional seas conventions, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of a section for reporting of ecological and socio-economic impacts of coral-bleaching events.
(viii) Add coral bleaching to the national biodiversity strategies and action plans under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
(g) Encourage and support multidisciplinary approaches to coral-reef research, monitoring, socio-economics and management.
(i) ICRI and GCRMN activities are intended to encourage and support multidisciplinary approaches to clearing-house research, monitoring, socio-economics and management.
(ii) Regional seas programmes through the ICRAN strategic plan and existing programmes like CORDIO, and the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme are increasing regional capacity towards monitoring, socio-economics and management, as related to coral bleaching. The four regions currently active under the ICRAN strategic plans are South-East Asia, Pacific, Caribbean and Eastern Africa.
(i) Develop a formal network of agencies in developed and developing countries, which agree to an annual exchange of staff in areas relevant to coral-reef management.
(ii) Gather and assimilate information on existing training programmes on integrated coastal area management, best practices and related issues, relating to sustainable management of coral reefs.
(iii) Develop and/or expand training opportunities for fishers, protected area managers and related marine resource managers at the national and regional levels, on resource assessment, monitoring, user impact, ecosystem approaches to marine and coastal resource management, surveillance and enforcement, local community integration, and in setting and measuring the achievement of management performance goals and indicators.
(iv) See activity (k) (ii) below.
(h) Build stakeholder partnerships, community participation programmes, and public-education campaigns and information products that address the causes and consequences of coral bleaching.
(i) ICRI and the International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS) are building the foundation of new ICRI action.
(ii) A number of existing education and capacity-building projects within the regional seas programmes serve to raise awareness regarding coral bleaching.
(iii) IUCN, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, USAID and WWF have produced a publication Management of Bleached and Severely Damaged Coral Reefs, to contribute to effective and immediate management action to aid reef protection and regeneration, and to enhance research to develop the necessary tools and measures for long-term success. In addition, the publication is intended to raise awareness of the urgent need to take all possible actions to reduce the impact of climate change on coral reefs.
(iv) The WWF approach to worldwide coral-reef conservation (CoralWeb): training of resource managers, increasing education, raising awareness, and implementing site-based reef management projects to help groups of stakeholders achieve their goals in reef management and sustainable economic development, including through the development of alternatives to destructive practices.
(v) The International Coral Reef Information Network (ICRIN) is the primary public awareness mechanism of the ICRI, and thus serves to disseminate public information products that address the causes and consequences of coral bleaching.
(i) "Bridge the gap between global and local action through the creation of national and sub-regional coral-reef initiatives" (see ICRI and the International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium on Building the Foundation of New ICRI Action).
(ii) Package relevant information from status-of-reefs reports, Reefs at Risk, etc., into effective practical materials for the general public, the media, the private sector and policy makers
3. Policy development / implementation
(i) Use existing policy frameworks to implement the multiple conservation measures outlined in the Renewed Call to Action of the International Coral Reef Initiative, and develop and implement comprehensive local-to-national-scale integrated marine and coastal area management plans that supplement marine protected areas.
As an example, relevant regional activities within the Wider Caribbean are carried out, inter alia, in the framework of the:
(i) Assess relevant actions of existing frameworks and how these are directly addressing integrated marine and coastal areas management, in particular coral-reef issues.
(ii) Integrate in existing policies at the regional and national levels the priority issues identified by ICRI and the International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS).
(iii) Make use of the regional seas programmes and other regional agreement (i.e. shipping, fisheries, trade and land-based sources of marine pollution) as vehicles to develop and implement policies related to coral-reef management and protection.
(j) Identify and institute additional and alternative measures for securing the livelihoods of people who directly depend on coral-reef services.
Some projects within the CORDIO programme in the Indian Ocean region focus on determining the socio-economic impacts of coral mortality and options for mitigating these through management and development of alternative livelihoods. Development is needed of further target research projects that investigate the impacts of coral bleaching and mortality events on social and economic systems in other regions.
(i) Compile information on the socio-economic impacts of coral bleaching on communities dependent on coral reefs.
(ii) Support and expand existing projects that assess the impacts of coral bleaching on communities dependent on coral reefs, such as the CORDIO project in the Indian Ocean.
(iii) Develop pilot projects for transitioning dependent communities to alternative and sustainable livelihoods.
(k) Initiate efforts to develop joint actions among the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Ramsar
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat to:
(i) Develop approaches for assessing the vulnerability of coral-reef species to global warming;
(ii) Build capacity for predicting and monitoring the impacts of coral bleaching and related mortality;
(iii) Identify approaches for developing response measures to coral bleaching;
(iv) Implement measures to address coral bleaching and related mortality;
(v) Provide guidance to financial institutions, including the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to support these activities.
(i) The Executive Secretary has transmitted the view to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that there is significant evidence that climate change is a primary cause of the recent and severe extensive coral bleaching, and that this evidence is sufficient to warrant remedial measures being taken in line with the precautionary approach. In this regard, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Secretariat of the UNFCCC, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have initiated dialogue to explore the integration of biological diversity concerns into the implementation of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol.
(ii) GEF Caribbean project on climate change adaptation (CPACC project).
(i) Promote and implement joint work plans with other relevant agreements, organizations and initiatives, including the Commission on Sustainable Development, FAO, regional seas conventions and action plans, regional trade and economic organizations, the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, ICRI and the Man and Biosphere Programme. In particular, assess and coordinate activities that have been agreed within multilateral environmental agreements about coral reefs.
(ii) Gather the outputs of the Caribbean GEF project on climate change adaptation (CPACC project) as a contribution to activities (k) (i)-(iv) above, and disseminate relevant findings through the clearing-house mechanism and other mechanisms.
(iii) Further development of response measures to coral bleaching and potential guidance to financial institutions, including the GEF may be needed.
(l) Encourage FAO and regional fisheries organizations to develop and implement measures to assess and mitigate the impacts of sea-surface temperature rise on fisheries.
(i) Investigate potentially deleterious effects of changes in oceanographic patterns and resulting impacts on target fish stocks resulting from sea-surface temperature rise.
(ii) Establish no-fishing zones and limitations on fishing gear to protect breeding grounds and provide fish with a refuge.
(iii) Enforce legislation prohibiting destructive fishing practices that further damage coral-reef ecosystems.
(iv) Investigate strategies for management of coral-reef fisheries that are
(iv) Investigate strategies for management of coral-reef fisheries that are demonstrably sustainable with respect to fished stocks and the ecosystems that produce them (in collaboration with FAO).
(m) Emphasize that coral bleaching can be monitored as an early warning of the impacts of global warming on marine ecosystems and that the collapse of coral-reef ecosystems could impact ecological processes of the larger marine system of which coral reefs are a part.
(i) Recognizing that coral bleaching is a cumulative stress response (i.e., global warming is the most widespread stressor, but known human induced stresses exacerbate events), develop education programmes addressing an ecosystem approach to coral-reef management and the relation between ecological parameters of coral reefs, sea-surface temperature rise and other human-induced stresses.
(ii) Investigate the relationship between coral-bleaching events and long-term meteorological data.
(iii) Develop educational programmes on the relationship between coral reefs and larger marine systems (e.g., impacts of coral-reef loss on fisheries, local communities etc).
(n) Emphasize the interdependencies and uncertainties in the relationships among marine, terrestrial and climatic systems.
(o) Mobilize international programmes and mechanisms for financial and technical development assistance, as well as national and private sources to support implementation.
(i) Promote programmes that identify the relationships among financial and technical development assistance and environmental project funding.
(ii) Identify financial and technical assistance mechanisms of national and private sources to assist communities impacted by coral bleaching.
Ways and means: Activities under this operational objective will be implemented primarily at the national and regional levels under the guidance of the Executive Secretary and SBSTTA, and in collaboration with relevant organizations and agencies, recognizing the value of the capacity established through ICRI and its operational units. The additional specific tasks will be prioritized as appropriate. The role of the Convention on Biological Diversity will be to act primarily as a facilitator of these activities.
Timing of expected outputs: 2000 onwards (minimum three-year time schedule)