14 Feb 2018 Press release Environmental rights and governance

Prince of Wales announces global call to action for International Year of the Reef 2018

LONDON, United Kingdom (14 February 2018) – His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales today announced a global call to action to save coral reefs from complete global collapse. His call marks the start of a global campaign designed by The Ocean Agency, for the International Year of the Reef - a multi government and NGO initiative led by the International Coral Reef Initiative in collaboration with UN Environment Programme.

Speaking at a gathering of some of the world’s leading coral reef experts and advocates in London, organised by The Prince's International Sustainability Unit, His Royal Highness said:   “There can be no doubt that we are at a critical tipping point, where we will either ensure or fatally compromise our ability to safeguard the world's coral reefs and the species that will support future generations of humans and countless other species.”

The Prince's announcement comes at a pivotal time for coral reefs. The last three years have seen the longest and most extensive coral die-off ever recorded and this impact from global climate change is predicted to worsen for at least the next two to three decades, threatening further destruction to reefs that are already suffering damage from overfishing and pollution.

The aim of the International Year of the Reef campaign is to draw attention to the crisis facing coral reefs and to secure the support necessary from governments, NGOs, businesses and the public. It aims to build on a new level of support for coral reef conservation and science, prompted by the recent global die-off, and help ensure 2018 becomes a turning point for coral reef conservation. It is intended to be a catalyst for action at a scale that has never been achieved before bringing together all sectors to work as a global community to find solutions to a global problem.

Speaking at the campaign launch Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment said:

“We are at a critical juncture for the future of the world's coral reefs. For too long we have been taking much more from them than we have given back. Now climate change and ocean acidification also threaten their very existence. These underwater ecosystems sustain a quarter of all marine life and gift more than half a billion people essential food and livelihoods, yet we have already allowed up to 50 percent of the world's coral reefs to die. The International Year of the Reef is the springboard for galvanizing urgent global action to turn this coral reef crisis around.”

To support the campaign, the International Year of the Reef launched a unique library of imagery and resources which are freely available to download and use. It includes imagery collected for Google Street View and during filming for the Netflix Original Documentary Chasing Coral. The image library is funded by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, which supports organizations that work to improve the health of oceans through research, preservation and management of coral reefs.

“We must act now to protect coral reefs – the cornerstone of healthy marine ecosystems – from the myriad of threats they face,” said Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chairman and President of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. “International Year of the Reef provides an extraordinary opportunity to educate the broader public on what they can do to preserve this treasured species for the livelihood and enjoyment of future generations.”

Speaking about the global campaign Xavier Sticker, French Ambassador for the Environment said in London:

“2018 has been designated by ICRI as the International Year of the Reef. This is a great opportunity to draw attention to the condition of coral reefs and to step up efforts to save them. Action is our watchword for this year and beyond. We are committed to work as a team to make a difference to coral reef conservation.”

About the International Coral Reef Initiative:

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) is an informal partnership between nations and organizations. It strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world. Although the Initiative is an informal group whose decisions are not binding on its members, its actions have been pivotal in continuing to highlight globally the importance of coral reefs and related ecosystems to environmental sustainability, food security and social and cultural wellbeing. The work of ICRI is regularly acknowledged in United Nations documents, highlighting the Initiative’s important cooperation, collaboration and advocacy role within the international arena.The Initiative was founded in 1994 by eight governments: Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and USA. ICRI now counts more than 60 members.  

About The Ocean Agency:

The Ocean Agency is an Australian Not-For-Profit founded in 2010. It is dedicated to achieving ocean conservation through technology innovation, creative communication and global partnerships. Its first major project was the XL Catlin Seaview Survey (also a partnership with the Global Change Institute), which has become the most comprehensive global survey of coral reefs ever conducted. It has revolutionized the speed, efficiency and cost of coral reef monitoring at scale. This is the project behind all the underwater imagery in Google Street View. The Ocean Agency is the only team to have ever travelled around the world to record and reveal a global bleaching event (the imagery taken with their specially developed cameras has appeared in virtually every major news publication.) This work is the subject of the acclaimed Netflix Original documentary called “Chasing Coral.”

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. Find out more at http://unep.org/


US (New York): Gil Jenkins: [email protected] +1 646 684 5326

Europe (London): Rod Macrae:  [email protected] +44 781 402 9819

The Ocean Agency: Stephanie Roach: [email protected] +1 717 497 6670

UN Environment:  Shari Nijman [email protected]