Coral Triangle Key Part of $24tn Global Ocean WealthNewsroom
New report by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) highlights the Coral Triangle as a crucial asset but warns it may disappear if global warming continues at current rate.
The world’s coral reefs are a key part of the $24-trillion (£16-trillion) global ocean wealth but may disappear by 2050 if global warming continues at the current rate, a new report by WWF warns. It states the world’s ocean assets are worth $24tn, pointing out that were the ocean a country, its GDP would rank seventh in the world.
In Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle bioregion alone, 120 million people rely on reefs for their livelihoods and about 500 million worldwide. Combined with rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification is expected to irreparably damage many other marine ecosystems, while 90% of fisheries worldwide are either fully exploited or overexploited, the report says. In economic terms, this amounts to a potentially catastrophic degradation of assets.
Produced in association with the Global Change Institute (GCI) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the report says that the ocean is an economy that is failing thanks to climate change, overexploitation of natural resources and pollution.
Analysis by lead author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of GCI and his colleagues indicates 70% of the ocean’s economic productivity relies on healthy ecosystems: fish need healthy habitats in order to grow and reproduce. But anthropogenic climate change has already created more than 400 identifiable ‘dead zones,’ where oxygen content is extremely low. The report boldly states, ‘failure to solve the climate change problem will defeat attempts to bring sustainable practices to fisheries across the world.’
Though the existing situation looks grave, WWF sets out an eight-point plan that it claims will, if rigorously implemented, ‘restore ocean assets to their full potential.’ Chief among these are three priorities: a concerted global effort to avert serious climate change, urgent protection of habitat and making ocean conservation a key sustainable development goal in the UN’s post-2015 agenda, which launches in September.
WWF is calling for an immediate commitment by coastal countries to conserve and sustainably manage 10% of the world’s coastal and marine areas by 2020, rising to 30% by 2030. But such decisions will require international coordination. “That’s the nature of the marine environment – it’s the connectivity that makes regional collaborative arrangements so important,” says John Tanzer, director of the Global Marine Programme. “Because no single country can deal with an issue like major declines in coral reefs and fisheries alone.”
Tanzer cites the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries & Food Security (CTI-CFF) – a multilateral partnership between the six Coral Triangle countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste) and NGO partners – as an example of regional cooperation. “It’s politically complex, but the Coral Triangle is such a vital resource to all of these countries. Ocean health is absolutely critical for them.”
While climate change looms large in the picture, we need to reduce other environmental stresses to a minimum so as to mitigate its impact, according to Tanzer. “Climate change at some level is inevitable – so the capacity of the marine environment to function will depend on its overall resilience.”
Protecting high value but densely populated bioregions like the Coral Triangle is a challenge WWF is keen to address. “Habitat protection in remote areas is positive of course, but the difficult path is to get that level of protection systematically implemented where it will make a difference for people in terms of health, education, food security and political stability.”
Read the REPORT.