New Zealand has secured a major global conference on coral reefs, highlighting the plight of the South Pacific to the rest of the world.
The International Coral Reef Society’s Symposium will be held in Auckland in the New Zealand International Convention Centre in mid-2025. Around 2,500 experts are expected to attend – the largest number of delegates that New Zealand can host, bringing $6 million to the economy.
Tourism New Zealand and the Auckland Convention Bureau worked alongside Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Auckland and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Fijian office to secure the event. While New Zealand does not have coral reefs, it does have coral communities – for example around the Kermadec Islands. Currently there is not enough known about them to determine how they might be affected by climate change.
The conference will bring together top scientists, environmental managers, conservationists, and others, giving an opportunity for New Zealand and Pacific experts to share insights with global coral reef experts that will bring benefits for the New Zealand and Pacific scientific community for decades.
Coral reefs are a vital part of marine ecosystems but are being destroyed by global warming and ocean acidification, as well as more localised threats such as agricultural run-off, poor fishing practices and coastal development.
The prediction for coral reefs around the world is bleak and many could be completely gone in just a few decades. This loss will not only have massive implications for marine biodiversity, but socio-economic impacts for those countries and regions that depend heavily on coral reefs, such as New Zealand’s neighbours in the South Pacific.\
Tourism New Zealand Global Manager Business Events Lisa Gardiner said: “We are proud to be working in partnership with the Pacific, an area that due to its remoteness is often forgotten, despite the fact that its reefs are under considerable threat.”
Victoria University Professor of Marine Biology Simon Davy acknowledges that we have little time to act. “The opportunity to bring the international coral reef community together every four years is extremely important. I’m thrilled that New Zealand will host this significant conference, allowing us to both promote research and conservation in the South Pacific, and contribute to global efforts in a meaningful way.”
(Source: Conference & Meetings World 14 January 2021)