Coral reefs aren’t just scientifically or emotionally significant, but quantifiably and monetarily valuable.
That’s the assertion of Dr. Juli Berwald, an ocean scientist. In an essay in The Wall Street Journal adapted from her new book, “Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs,” Berwald notes that environmental advocates have developed novel financial innovations aimed at protecting coral health.
The world’s first insurance policy to protect a marine ecosystem was issued in 2019, covering 100 miles of Cancun’s reef and beach. The policy paid out if wind speeds exceeded 100 knots. When 2020’s Hurricane Delta hit, it resulted in a nearly US$800,000 (~€741,280) payout, part of which paid for divers to stabilize the reef.
Restructured debt is another protection strategy, according to Berwald. The Tropical Forest Conservation Act allows the US government to forgive developing countries’ debt in exchange for their efforts in conserving forest habitat.
These “debt for nature” swaps generated $339 million (~€314 million) to protect and manage more than 67 million acres (27.1 million hectares) of forests in 14 countries.
Check out her full essay here.