By developing pioneering resilience strategies, both Ningaloo Coast in Australia and Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize are working to protect their World Heritage-listed coral ecosystems from the impacts of climate change and build the resilience of local communities who depend on the reef for their livelihoods.
On May 18, 2023, resilience-based management experts and local teams from UNESCO World Heritage marine sites met online share best practices and first-hand information on designing and implementing a resilience strategy that takes a holistic approach to dealing with the impacts of climate change and helps communities adapt to inevitable change.
Earlier this year, the two Ningaloo Coast (Australia) and the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) became the first marine World Heritage sites to launch resilience strategies, supported by the Resilient Reefs Initiative. The sites have since begun implementation with seed funding for priority actions that will build the resilience of these globally iconic marine protected areas.
Ningaloo Coast officials highlighted the importance of understanding the local governance and legislative contexts that guide a site-specific resilience strategy. Other learnings shared included the value of targeting early wins to increase engagement and collaboration among local partners.
Information from the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has helped managers understand the critical need to establish and maintain communication with various stakeholders to ensure ownership and effective implementation of climate actions.
Developing a resilience strategy is a powerful way to help managers and local stakeholders understand and adopt a more risk-aware, proactive and integrated approach to planning, and to build community resilience and of the ecosystem.
Resilient reefs is a pioneering US$10 million global partnership that guides four World Heritage-listed coral reefs in Palau, Belize, France and Australia to apply an innovative approach to change the way they understand climate risk and plan for climate change. ‘coming. In collaboration with local management authorities and communities, the initiative is developing resilience strategies in each of these pilot sites. The initiative is the result of the 2016 meeting Third World Conference of Marine World Heritage Managers held in the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), which revealed how ill-equipped most World Heritage managers are to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
This online meeting was the eighth in a series of digital exchanges that was launched by the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Program in April 2020. The online meetings provide an exclusive online platform where managers from the 50 World Heritage marine sites connect and share successes in tackling conservation challenges.
Due to their status as the world’s flagship protected areas, UNESCO World Heritage marine sites are uniquely positioned to spur change and innovation, set new global standards of conservation excellence and serve beacons of hope in a changing ocean. Online meetings are made possible thanks to the support of the French Biodiversity Agency and the Foundation of the Great Barrier Reef. Participation is by invitation only.