Coral reef progress from Saudi G20 presidency must continue, says CORDAP chief

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Progress made since the Saudi Arabia G20 presidency in raising awareness and filling in a “knowledge gap” surrounding coral reef studies has been vital in developing research in the sector, it was announced at COP27.

Speaking to Arab News at the UN Climate Change Conference, Dr. Rory Jordan said an initiative launched off the back of the G20 environmental ministers was key to pushing the agenda forward.

“We’re here to raise the profile and get visibility of what CORDAP (Coral Research and Development Accelerator Platform) is there to do, which is to fill a knowledge gap in the global research and development space for coral research, both tropical corals which take up an awful lot of the developing world, but also deepwater corals,” the deputy director of CORDAP at KAUST said.

Jordan, who is also senior research adviser to Coral Reef Restoration Strategies, added: “A founding committee was formed with 17 countries from the G20 and they developed the consensus.”

He added: “Saudi Arabia agreed to put in $100 million as a founding commitment for this with a view to raising about $300 million over the next 10 years.”

And Jordan hopes this sort of investment will reverse years of coral degradation across the planet, and help put reefs front and center of conservation projects, including in areas closer to home such as the Red Sea reef.

“We want to develop scalable, affordable and translatable solutions,” he told Arab News. “This means solutions to scale up restoration. The area of coral reef, which is degraded or dead or bleached at the moment, is reaching gargantuan proportions,” he added.

“Most coral restoration activities at the moment are very small. They have been smaller, but they’re gaining more ambition now.”

And backing from the Saudi government and KAUST has played a big role in making sure more is done to protect coral reefs.

“The Red Sea is an area of particular importance to ourselves as well, being at KAUST and being in CORDAP, with the G20 being hosted by the Saudi presidency in 2020,” he said.

“It has built a huge amount of momentum, and actually that’s a lot in thanks to KAUST, who have agreed to put up their hand to host the initiative, its management hub, pay staff full time for that and run its funding programs.

“So that’s to the tune of about maybe $2 million per year. So with that full-time ability and with those resources behind us, we’ve been able to move forward very quickly,” he added.

And looking toward COP28, being hosted by UAE, Jordan hopes the momentum will continue.

“So we would like to bolster the funding available. We’d like to mobilize resources for R&D programs around the world,” he said. “If possible, by that stage, we would like to have seen the doubling of the funding commitment from Saudi Arabia.”


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