First and only global blended finance instrument dedicated to coral reefs launches

By Climate Champions | November 5, 2021

In the margins of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) was launched by a coalition of public and private partners with the ambition to mobilise USD $625 million for coral reef conservation over the next decade.

The GFCR is the first UN fund dedicated to SDG 14, ‘Life Below Water’ and the only global blended finance instrument dedicated to coral reefs. The Fund’s blended finance approach expands the SDG14 funding landscape by offering grants to incubate and unlock reef-positive blue economy projects for private investment.

Through direct conservation and indirect conservation interventions, the Grant and Investment Windows jointly address local drivers of reef degradation, from overfishing and unsustainable coastal development to destructive fishing and pollution.

The Fund’s Theory of Change directs a ‘protect-transform-restore-recover’ approach focused on strengthening resilience in underfunded reef ecosystems with the greatest chance of surviving human pressures. Emphasis is placed on LDCs and SIDs in South Asia, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, in addition to other priority coral reef ecosystems, where reefs support high levels of biodiversity and critical ecosystem services for local communities. Programming has already launched in Fiji and, by December 2021, is expected to begin in the Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania,  Papua New Guinea, The Bahamas, and the Maldives.

The public-private partnership is driven by a powerful and growing coalition of private foundations, Member States, UN agencies and private sector impact investors, including the governments Germany, the UK, Canada and France; the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation; the Green Climate Fund; the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation; BNP Paribas; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

On November 2 at COP26, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s commitment to join the Global Fund for Coral Reefs. In an article released through the Prime Minister’s official website, the Government of Canada reinforced a commitment to ocean-based mitigation and adaptation efforts with an announcement of a “$6 million for the Global Fund for Coral Reefs to support international efforts in coral reef conservation and restoration.”

In the run up to COP26, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) approved a commitment to a first-loss tranche of up to USD$125 million to the GFCR Investment Window. As GCF’s first at-scale private sector programme in the blue economy, the commitment is intended to de-risk investments for private investors at the fund level, thereby bridging the gap between public and private investors. GCF will serve as an anchor investor in the GFCR Investment Window. Today the UK will announce an additional £1m contribution.

Here more about GFCR action in Fiji below:


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In April 2024, NOAA and ICRI scientists confirmed the fourth global coral bleaching event, highlighting the escalating impacts of climate change on coral reefs. This has spurred initiatives like the Coral Reef Breakthrough and the Global Fund for Coral Reefs to enhance protection, double effective conservation areas, and mobilize significant funding for restoration efforts.