Coral Reef Innovation Facility

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has announced that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will establish a Coral Reef Innovation Facility to drive innovative solutions to coral reef management challenges in developing countries.

Why are coral reefs important?

Found in more than 100 countries and territories, around two thirds of which are developing countries, coral reefs maintain some of the richest biodiversity on our planet and sustain the irreplaceable culture and livelihoods of many communities.

Covering less than 0.2% of the total surface area of the ocean, coral reefs are estimated to host more than a quarter of the species of marine life known to date. The variety of life supported by coral reefs rivals that of the tropical forests of the Amazon or Papua New Guinea.

Coral reefs provide nurseries for many of the ocean's fish and can generate 5 to 15 tons of fish per square kilometre each year, providing an important source of protein and income in developing countries.

Coral reefs reduce wave energy and act as barriers to storms. They are the first line defence for millions of people globally, preventing and mitigating erosion, flooding and destruction.

Coral reef-related tourism generates substantial benefit for local economies – a recent estimate is that it generates annual revenues of around $36 billion globally.

Coral reef ecosystems are also important sources of new medicines being developed.

What is Australia's role?

Through efforts to manage our coral reefs including Ningaloo and the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef and the largest living structure on the planet, Australia is leading the way in driving innovative responses to the threats faced by coral reefs. Australian experts are leading world-first initiatives on genome sequencing, remote sensing, data interoperability and ocean monitoring that are helping the world to better understand and manage our coral reefs.


Explore some examples of how Australia is leading the way with innovative responses from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation:


Future Reef 2.0


The Coral Reef Innovation Facility

The Coral Reef Innovation Facility will seek to harness this deep Australian expertise and help find, incubate, and accelerate solutions to coral reef management challenges in developing countries.

The Facility will draw on the Government’s innovationXchange which is already driving innovation in the aquaculture sector across the Indian Ocean region through the Blue Economy Challenge to foster more environmentally sustainable and economically inclusive development.

Areas of investment for the Coral Reef Innovation Facility will be defined in consultation with experts and partners. Areas of possible focus being explored include:

  • innovative solutions to survey and assess the condition of coral reefs (including their socio-economic values such as fisheries, harvest and tourism use) to help improve coral reef management, for example by using smart sensors and observations systems, data mining, modelling, machine learning and automated analyses approaches
  • innovative and scalable solutions to facilitate recovery of damaged coral reefs, build their future resilience and accelerate coral adaptation to increasing sea temperatures.


Types of activities that might be considered under the Facility include:

  • global ‘Big Thinks’ to refine specific opportunity areas for innovation in corals
  • innovation challenges to help find and incubate new or emerging innovations (similar to the innovationXchange’s Blue Economy Challenge)
  • ‘hackathons’ to uncover new ways of gathering and utilising data to help improve coral reef management
  • funding to accelerate or adapt existing innovations.

Through the Facility, DFAT will seek to work with the most innovative public and private sector organisations, scientific organisations and the university sector. Australian expertise will be critical.

Any activities supported through the Facility would need to be able to show that they are feasible and suitable for application within, and achieve benefits for, developing countries. This includes considering the environments and contexts where these solutions will be implemented, as well as education levels, costs, functionality, reliability and maintainability, distribution and supply chain, and scalability issues unique to developing countries.

Further details, including opportunities for involvement in activities under the Facility, will be advertised on this website once available.

Images on this page have been provided by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority