Yesterday our “Racing for the Planet” was commandeered by the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) to engage in a voyage designed to bring awareness to the urgent crisis facing the world’s coral reefs.

The Racing Against Extinction cruises brought together high-level UN representatives, government officials, C-suite executives, as well as high-level ocean champions to sail beside the UN Ocean Conference Arena.

Among the distinguished guests that attended the voyages were Mme Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of UNCDF, Usha Rao-Monari, UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator, and Susan Gardner, Director of Ecosystems, UNEP.

The Mirpuri Foundation’s VO65 racing yacht has been refurbished for environmental sustainability, including eschewing all single use plastic items, employing measures to limit air pollution, and recycling used sails for alternative uses, among other changes. This is part of the Foundation’s commitment to promote the global movement against ocean pollution by plastics, which can be particularly damaging to coral reef ecosystems.

Participation in Racing for the Planet is part of GFCR’s work in bringing together its growing coalition of Member States, UN agencies, private philanthropies, impact investors, environmental organizations, as well as ocean conservation and climate experts to expand multi-sector efforts focusing on saving coral reefs from extinction. As a leading global initiative focused on saving coral reefs and the largest blended finance vehicle dedicated to Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water), GFCR has a central role in driving awareness and action for coral reefs globally.

Coral reefs are not just valuable, they are vital. One of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, the value of ecosystem services is estimated to be USD 2.7 trillion annually, providing such critical needs as coastal protection, food security, and income to more than one billion people globally while supporting an estimated 25% of the Earth’s marine life. Yet, coral reefs are moving faster towards extinction than any other ecosystem on Earth. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s coral reefs have already disappeared due to climate change and a range of local threats and stressors such as overfishing, marine plastic, sewage pollution and unsustainable agricultural practices. Estimates project that if no urgent actions are taken, the world’s remaining coral reefs will become extinct in just 30 years.