Coral reef restoration is increasingly put forward as an active management strategy to address coral reef declines globally. In 2019, a report from the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) ‘s Ad-hoc committee on coral restoration revealed that most ICRI countries are now using coral restoration as tool to conserve and protect coral reefs. That same report also identified funding and political will as major driving forces of restoration implementation. However, analysis of funding mechanisms for coral reef restoration efforts are sparse and often intertwined with other reef management strategies such as broad conservation efforts and marine protected areas (UNEP 2018). This report was prepared to address this gap by analyzing the trends in available funding allocated to coral reef restoration in the last 10 to 15 years, specifically focusing on how funding varied across regions, sectors, and/or type of restoration projects.
A desktop analysis identified 61 potential funders and an online survey gathered perspectives and funding information from 137 coral reef restoration managers and practitioners. Altogether, US$258 million has been invested in coral reef restoration efforts across 56 countries in the last decade, which is encouraging but still a small fraction of the US 1.9 billion reported for coral reef and associated ecosystems between 2010 and 2016 (UNEP et al. 2018). Key finding includes that 1) funding for coral reef restoration has been dominated by government grants and investments from the private sector, 2) there are regional differences in funding which highlight disparities between developed and less developed nations, and 3) timeline of funding are dominated by short-term grants which are often inadequate to support long-term coral reef restoration efforts.
A set of six key recommendations to improve funding for coral reef restoration were drawn:
- An increase in the amount and availability of dedicated funding for coral reef restoration is required as we begin the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
- Funders need to account for both short and long-term goals of coral reef restoration.
- More research into sustainable funding for coral reef restoration is required.
- Funding accessibility needs to be improved.
- Funding for coral reef restoration should support greater capacity building.
- Better communication on the realities of coral reef restoration is necessary.