A key element of the Caribbean region’s vulnerability to climate change is the threat to coral reef ecosystems. Regional Heads of Government throughout the Caribbean have recognized the important role that coral reefs play in national economies and their crucial contribution to sustainable development. Accordingly, governments, regional leaders and coastal communities have begun to take measures to address the region’s vulnerability and build resilience to climate change.
The Coral Reef Plan of Action provides a roadmap for navigating the challenges of sustainably managing coral reefs to protect biological diversity while sustaining provision of goods and services that these ecosystems provide to the people of the Caribbean.
The plan presents a set of objectives for improving the outlook for Caribbean reefs by 2018. These are the result of regional consultations that identified the priority needs expressed by regional leaders, stakeholders, officials and experts who together have accumulated the experience required for tackling the issues faced in the sustainable management of Caribbean coral reefs. The objectives are grouped under four goals:
- Improve the health and resilience of Caribbean coral reefs
- Strengthen adaptive capacity of communities
- Build foundations for national and regional action
- Advocate globally for stronger action on climate change
Investment in achieving the goals and objectives in this plan will be further guided through development of an associated implementation plan, and a program of monitoring, evaluation and reporting. With the support of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism will lead implementation of this plan to ensure it has the best chance of building the resilience of coral reefs to the impacts of climate variability and change in the Caribbean region.
This Coral Reef Plan of Action is aligned with relevant initiatives, sub-regional strategies and plans targeted at Caribbean coral reefs. These include the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism’s Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Strategy and Action Plan, the 2012 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef, and the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of the Shared Living Marine Resources of the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystems and Adjacent Regions (CLME+SAP).
The Plan supports the vision articulated in the Liliendaal Declaration and contributes to strategic elements and goals elaborated in the Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (Regional Framework) and its associated Implementation Plan (see Appendix 1). Through an integrated approach across these strategic initiatives, the Coral Reef Plan of Action will help build regional coordination and national commitment, motivate actions and stimulate much-needed support and investment from the international community in a coordinated effort to improve the outlook for Caribbean coral reefs.