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Thank you to the Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection, the University of California-Los Angeles, NASA, and others for hosting this important event.

This grim reality must spur us to greater action.

In the United States, we approach coral reef conservation and restoration from a holistic perspective.

Our “ridge to reef” approach deals with all relevant threats, from climate change and unsustainable fishing practices to land-based sources of pollution.

We will focus on restoring the reefs that need help and combating coral disease.

We will invest in research, looking to ocean science to help point the way.

And we will also reach beyond our ICRI membership to create a broader, deeper community to protect, restore, and treasure coral reefs.

In the United States, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program addresses local issues that affect coral reef ecosystems.

Science and research form the foundation of our work.

The program also supports the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program, which provides national-level assessments of the status of coral reef ecosystems and the communities connected to them.

To save them we must ensure our actions match our ambition.  We must support the science we need to implement effective conservation and restoration programs.

The time to act is now, so let’s get to work.  Thank you.

As we know, the world’s coral reefs are at risk, slipping away beneath the waves, beyond our view.

Such monitoring efforts, at home and abroad, highlight the importance of habitat restoration, coral population enhancement, and building coral resilience to environmental threats.

The report found that between 2009 and 2018 there was a progressive loss of roughly 14 percent of the coral from the world’s coral reefs.

But the report also found increases in global average coral cover between 2002 and 2009, and again in 2019, This suggests that many of the world’s coral reefs remain resilient and can recover if conditions permit.

Above all, coral reef monitoring must remain accurate, timely, and collaborative to support coral reef science and conservation.

The network recently produced a global dataset that spans more than 40 years – from 1978 to 2019.  It consists of almost 2 million observations from more than 12,000 sites in 73 reef-bearing countries around the world.

In 1995, ICRI established the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network to report on the condition of the world’s coral reefs. We need accurate and comprehensive information on the state of reefs.

ICRI was founded more than 25 years ago on the premise that coral reefs can recover and be restored if we commit to doing what needs to be done.

The Plan of Action for the U.S. tenure as ICRI’s chair emphasizes science, innovation, and communities.

Our plan to enhance the survival rates for coral reefs is to (1) tackle and reverse the climate crisis, (2) reduce local stressors, and (3) create marine protected areas to conserve what we have.

We all know the daunting challenges coral reefs face.  And we also know coral reefs can recover.

And we firmly believe that avoiding damage to intact coral reef ecosystems is a critical component of a holistic coral reef conservation strategy.

It is an honor for me to be with you all today.

I am proud to chair the International Coral Reef Initiative and champion the work of scientists and managers to conserve and restore coral reef ecosystems.

Our collective efforts are vital to protecting coral reefs in the face of ever-increasing threats.

The IPCC warns that 70-90 percent of coral reefs will be lost with a global warming of 1.5 degrees.  Nearly all will vanish with 2 degrees of warming.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future