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  • Writer's pictureEmily Higgins

Global Ocean Funding Landscape for Coral Reefs

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Photo by Gaby Barathieu / Coral Reef Image Bank.

In a post-COVID world, the oceans are fundamental for building economic resilience in a way that does not exploit marine resources and takes into account the needs of communities that have been most affected. Investing in ocean sustainability is also being hailed as a solution for aligning environmental social governance (ESG) concerns with financial performance. It was recently found that sustainable ocean-based investments can yield benefits worth over five times the costs. In other words, a dollar invested in the ocean will yield a minimum $5 return in resources. Economic analysts report that investing $2–$3.7 trillion in ocean resources over the next 30 years would generate $8.2–$22.8 trillion in net benefits, a 450–615% return on investment rate (High Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy).

Annually, it is estimated that coral reefs and their associated ecosystems are worth between $375 billion to $2.7 trillion dollars (Conservation Finance Alliance). Even though they are incredibly valuable, we have lost ~50% of all coral reefs since the 1970s, and reefs continue to degrade each year due to warming and rising seas, ocean acidification, overfishing, coastal runoff, and coastal development. As a result, we are racing against climate change to restore, revitalize, and protect the valuable reef ecosystems we have left.

Photo by Matt Curnock / Coral Reef Image Bank.

In 2016, the Convention on Marine Biological Diversity identified the “coral reef funding gap”. Even though reefs are estimated to be worth over $300 billion annually, coral reef projects are only valued at about $1.6 billion. In an attempt to increase this value, funding entities have come together under the Conservation Finance Alliance to form the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) to leverage financing opportunities to protect and restore coral reefs. The GFCR alone has vowed to invest $500 million in coral reef conservation in the next 10 years. Additionally, Conservation International Ventures LLC has committed to provide $200,000 - 500,000 for coral reef conservation efforts over the next ten years.

Unless immediate and drastic action is taken, we will see the end of coral reefs in our lifetime. To optimize our efforts and prevent this from happening, the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative has created a short list of seven ecologically significant coral reefs that represent 70% of all reef cover on Earth as a strategic regeneration initiative. By pooling our conservation efforts and fully protecting these seven reefs, we will be able to preserve and revitalize what we have left.


The reefs (Cuba, Tanzania, Madagascar, Philippines, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, and Fiji) were chosen based on targeted conservation criteria: likelihood of withstanding the most serious environmental threats (warming, acidification, etc.), climate-resiliency, global species representation, and total area. There is a global call for funding to be allocated to projects that are dedicated to protecting and revitalizing reefs in these seven key zones. If these vital reefs can be effectively conserved, they will serve as refugia for coral reef species.

To effectively restore and protect these seven key coral reef regions, we must deploy the best and fastest restoration technology on the market. IntelliReefs builds biomimicking nanotechnology habitats that increase reef biological and economic resilience, biodiversity, and healthy available habitat. Unlike other marine restoration substrates on the market, IntelliReefs can be cast in any shape and size, allowing for entire degraded coastlines to be revitalized and protected using immense wave break modules.

Our nanoparticle “Oceanite” mineral mixtures are exponentially stronger than traditional and “enhanced” concretes and are cast as a permeable, porous substrate to optimize animal settlement. IntelliReefs exclusive mineral mixtures can also be customized down to the nanoscale to enable optimal growth and resilience for conservation targets. The creation of additional, durable, bio-enhanced habitats on the world’s seven key reefs will allow us to build global resilience to climate change and provide much needed economic benefits to coastal and global communities.

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