Great Barrier Reef report


Industry opinion: Spotlight on the Resilient Reefs initiative



ADAM DAVIS Technical Director – Sustainability & Resilience, AECOM Australia Pty Ltd

Coral reefs are critically important ecosystems, supporting 25% of all marine life and the livelihoods and wellbeing of almost one billion people across 101 countries. ​But, right now, around 75% of the planet’s coral reefs under threat from local stresses and climate change. Business-as-usual approaches to coral reef management are no longer enough. The impact of climate change means that we are running out of time and the scale and urgency of the challenges need new approaches, now. Healthy reef ecosystems depend on people, and people depend on healthy reef ecosystems. Resilient Reefs is bringing together local communities, reef managers, and resilience experts to develop new solutions for combatting the effects of climate change. The Resilient Reefs framework promotes balancing the environment, local community, traditional owners, and local industries, engaging and allowing “buy in” from each of those stakeholders. This is a bold, new approach. We are putting people at the center and learning from the global resilience practice to innovate, build capacity and drive a whole- of-community approach to the challenges facing our treasured reefs. CONNECTING PEOPLE AND THE REEF

Over four years, from2018 to 2022, Resilient Reefs is piloting this work with five diverse and magnificent World Heritage- listed coral reef sites – Great Barrier Reef, Australia; Ningaloo Coast, Australia; Lagoons of New Caledonia; Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System; and Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Palau. As these sites identify innovative solutions to their local challenges, we will help share and scale these lessons to reef communities around the world.  Through this initiative, we have enabled new ways of thinking about reef management. Many reef managers have been focused on delivering small, practical conservation projects. However greater focus on community and government level interventions can providemore far-reaching benefits. Through a knowledge network of reef managers in the five piloted Reefs, there has been sharing of knowledge and ideas for responding to similar challenges. It has also emerged that greater flexibility in governance and legislation in Queensland may better enable resilience to respond to changing conditions. For example; – Flexibility following storm events to temporarily shift the location or activities of tourism or fishing operations from a stressed or recovering part of a reef to other areas; and – Flexibility for community conservation THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT MANAGING REEFS

Adam has completed climate adaptation and resilience projects at local, regional, state, national and international scales, looking at climate hazards, risk, vulnerability and resilience. Adam is AECOM’s project director on Resilient Reefs, which has been developed to build the resilience of UNESCO World Heritage listed coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef to the globally significant threat of climate change, whilst also building the reef communities’ ability to adapt to a future of uncertainty. In an urban context, Adam is also working with the Rockefeller Foundation as part of their 100 Resilient Cities initiative to assist their member cities across the Asia- Pacific address the shocks and stresses of the 21st century driven by climate change, globalisation and urbanisation.

The Resilient Reefs Initiative is a collaboration between Great Barrier Reef Foundation, BHP Foundation, UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme, The Nature Conservancy, 100 Resilient Cities and AECOM (as delivery partner). These global partners each bring unique expertise and support to the pilot sites, as well as help to share the lessons and learnings from the initiative with reef communities around the world. The Resilient Reefs framework informs the Resilient Reefs initiative. 31

activities to be carried out, which current planning rules do not allow


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