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Kwale County to Benefit From £5 million UK Initiative for Coral Reef Restoration and Marine Protection.

Projects developed to tackle the ongoing global climate crisis have received a major boost after the UK announced efforts to scale up its support for the world’s oceans with £16.2 million from its £500 million Blue Planet Fund. This announcement comes after the UK had made a statement calling for a greater global ambition earlier in the week.

This investment includes a £5 million contribution to support the ongoing work by Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and South-East Asia. The fund will explore techniques such as sewage treatment and management of marine protected areas to help uplift the already suffering ecosystems.

GFCR (Global Fund for Coral Reefs) is a new joint UN fund that aims to conserve and restore coral reefs through innovative financing mechanisms, including private, market-based investments. The fund targets small island developing states and on transforming the livelihoods of coral reef-dependent communities. The fund plans to invest $500 through blended finance in coral reef conservation over the next ten years.

GFCR Initiative will Boost Marine Protected Areas, Waste Management, and Development of Blue Carbon Deposits

In Kenya, Kwale County in the coastal region is the worst affected, with ongoing activities to safeguard the ecosystem. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs will be investing in protecting the coastal ecosystems, specifically coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass. This investment will also include supporting Marine Protected Areas, locally managed marine areas, sustainable fisheries, waste management, and the development of blue carbon credits. The Wildlife Conservation Society will implement this project.

In 2019, Kwale county embarked on an intensive 3-year program to restore the coral reefs in the region with the help of the Kenya Climate Change Adaptation Programmme. Apart from being vital to the ecosystem, coral reefs are a major tourist attraction and source of livelihood for the local community.

“In the run-up to the UN climate talks in November, the UK is proud to be working with Kenya to take action to prevent the extinction of vital coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, increasing the resilience of coral reefs and creating jobs for the communities that depend on them,” Josephine Gauld, Deputy High Commissioner and Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN-Habitat said.

“The UK is a global leader in marine protection and will continue to advocate for ambitious climate and ocean action at COP26 this year,” George Eustice, UK Environment Secretary, Said. “The Blue Planet Fund will support many developing countries on the frontline of climate change to reduce poverty and improve the health of their seas,” he added.

Ongoing Reef Restoration Efforts in Wasini Island by Local Community

With an increased threat to their source of livelihood and decreasing fish stock in the Indian ocean, locals in Wasini Island have already started a community initiative of transplanting and rehabilitating the bleached and degraded coral reefs. Through the OCPP, the community will get assistance in their course and education through partnerships. OCPP (Ocean Country Partnership Programme) partnering with ODA (Official Development Assistance) eligible countries aim to develop marine science capability and improve policymaking in marine pollution, biodiversity, and sustainable seafood.

The £5.7 million will tackle marine pollution at its source, create well-managed marine protected areas, and make aquaculture more sustainable by helping developing countries access the UK’s world-leading ocean science expertise. The OCPP aims to bring together governments, local universities, regional organizations, and civil society organizations to improve applied science and look at science and research, education and outreach, and policy and governance.

Funding Gap in Reef Restoration in Developing Ocean Countries

Coral reefs are vital are perhaps one of the world’s most valuable ecosystems. They support up to 25% of marine life and provide benefits to thousands of species. But, unfortunately, they are also extremely vulnerable to pollution and climate change.

To date, investment in coral reef protection has not been adequate or proportionate with the current level of risk or value derived from coral reefs, which has led to a ‘coral reef funding gap.’ The £5 million contributions will go into helping developing countries within the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and South-East Asia prevent the extinction of the vital coral reefs by exploring techniques such as sewage treatment and management of the marine protected areas.

This project will be financed from the UK’s overseas aid budget to increase marine protection, tackle plastic pollution and the decline of global coral reefs, and use the UK’s world-leading expertise to help respond to maritime pollution disasters.

Image Credits: UKinKenya, CDA

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