Resilient Reefs – Combating the effects of climate change


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Coral reefs are at risk on a global scale, with an estimated 75 percent of all coral reefs under threat from the combination of local stresses and global climate change. Reefs are critically important ecosystems supporting 25 percent of all marine life in the ocean and providing a home for a diverse range of biodiversity. As such, urgent, innovative solutions are required to better protect our reefs globally. AECOM is currently partnering with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to develop and pilot the Resilient Reefs initiative; a unique and important program to build reef resilience across five UNESCO World Heritage-listed coral reefs.


The Resilient Reefs program will work with reef managers, reef-dependent businesses and local communities to build the resilience of these coral reefs to climate change and other local stresses across coral reefs in Australia, New Caledonia, Palau and Belize. AECOM is the main implementation partner of this initiative and supported the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to develop the successful funding submission to the BHP Billiton Foundation for AUD $12.5 million. AECOM is helping to develop the Resilient Reefs Strategy Guide and support each of the five sites to develop and implement the necessary resilience strategies.

Building reef resilience will be achieved by:

  • developing a new methodology for resilience-based management
  • implementing and funding a targeted suite of priority actions that will demonstrate the value of local actions to build resilience and inspire and influence the wider global coral reef community.

Resilient Reefs will deliver the first fully integrated and transferable model for building the resilience of both coral reefs and the communities that depend on them, from planning through to implementation.

Outcomes and Value

The Resilient Reefs program leverages AECOM’s experience of working with over 40 cities in the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, together with insights from other sustainability and resilience projects.

The Resilient Reefs program will accelerate the development of new and creative solutions for addressing the challenges facing the world’s coral reefs and aims to share lessons learnt beyond the five initial pilot sites.

The initiative will facilitate increased collaboration and partnerships between reef resilience experts, the private sector, local communities and reef managers to develop holistic reef resilience strategies. The program will also empower people to take local action to build the resilience of coral reefs to the globally significant threat of climate change, while also building the communities’ ability to adapt to a future of uncertainty.