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.
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.”
Dr Michael Sweet, Corresponding Secretary of the International Coral Reef Society reflected on why the New Zealand bid was a success. “We were particularly impressed by the inclusivity of the New Zealand approach in identifying the importance of Māori culture and the natural environment and also the partnership with the Pacific.”
The win follows other major conferences New Zealand has recently won like the International Association of Women in Police Conference to be held in Auckland in 2023.