BRISBANE (October 19, 2023) — AECOM, the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, welcomes the release of a resilience strategy for the Koror Rock Islands Southern Lagoon in Palau, shared today by the Koror State Government. The third strategy, delivered through the global Resilient Reefs Initiative, outlines the top four resilience challenges facing the Koror Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage coral reef site, and actions that will help build the resilience of the reef and the local community. Covering 100,200 ha, the Koror Rock Islands Southern Lagoon is surrounded by a complex reef system featuring over 365 coral species and different habitats.
As strategy lead and partner with the Resilient Reefs Initiative, AECOM collaborated with the Office of the Governor at Koror State, the National Government, Palau Conservation Society, Palau International Coral Reef Center and The Nature Conservancy to develop the strategy. Guided by local community members, the strategy’s development was shaped by the time, input and advice of close to 1,000 people, roughly 9% of the Koror population.
“Globally, climate change is a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of reefs and the communities that depend on them. In Palau, communities are entwined with the reef system, relying on it for culture, livelihoods, food, recreation, storm protection and much more,” said Suzanna Remmerswaal, Associate Director, Sustainability & Resilience at AECOM.
“Record water temperatures and coral bleaching are already occurring throughout the northern hemisphere. With the loss of coral reefs comes the loss of coastal protection, reef tourism, fisheries, food security, and livelihoods. The actions proposed highlight the vital role of communities in driving reef protection through well-managed systems.”
The Resilient Reefs Initiative supports efforts to put communities at the centre of reef health by looking holistically at coral reefs, the communities that depend on them and the governance arrangements that influence them as an integrated system that must be understood together.
Four key actions underpin the strategy:
Action 1: Adaptively manage the Rock Island Southern Lagoon to help the State apply best practices, and establish a learning-by-doing culture based on monitoring and evaluation.
Action 2: Enhance sustainable financing mechanisms to ensure resilient and ongoing management of actions and secure new revenue streams for sustainable financing, diversify revenue, and reduce reliance on the Rock Islands User Fee.
Action 3: Preservation of cultural and historical sites and practices to ensure their value is maintained, and the Department of State & Cultural Affairs has the skills, knowledge and tools to develop plans, integrate technical assistance, and effectively maintain and preserve cultural resources.
Action 4: Operationalise the Koror Fisheries Management Plan to increase the resilience of coastal fisheries resources in the Rock Island Southern Lagoon. Strengthen and sustain community participation in fisheries management and communicate the tangible and intangible value of fisheries and traditional conservation ethics.
The Resilient Reefs Initiative is a collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, UNESCO, The Nature Conservancy’s Reef Resilience Network, Columbia University’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes, Resilient Cities Catalyst, and AECOM. Through the Resilient Reefs Initiative, AECOM has supported the delivery of the Strategy for Reef Resilience in Belize and the Ningaloo Resilience Strategy. The program is funded by the BHP Foundation. In 2022, AECOM extended its partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with an in-kind commitment of up to $1 million to deliver resilience initiatives across the Great Barrier Reef.
The resilience strategy for the Koror Rock Islands Southern Lagoon is available here.
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