Reef-World’s annual report reveals that the charity continues to prioritise coral reef health moving forward.
The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – reveals the highlights and major developments in their latest 2020–2021 annual report today. The report shows how the charity has had to adapt to the pandemic to continue to deliver and is determined to build back better.
While grassroots work was unable to occur throughout most of the year due to the global pandemic, digital innovations have enabled the charity to continue to help the marine tourism industry reduce its direct and local impacts on coral reefs. Through the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, the charity continues to educate dive professionals worldwide to protect and preserve coral reefs, no matter their location. The course is now hosted independently on the newly launched Green Fins website. The revamped Green Fins website has a strong focus on increasing tourist demand for members and consolidating the charity’s digital portfolio. It is now easier for tourists to find active Green Fins members to dive with through a live member map and new content structure.
In addition, the charity developed two new guidelines for environmental best practices and four new language translations (Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish) to expand the reach of its conservation message. The new website loads faster, is more mobile-friendly and is built to scale for visitor traffic peaks. The outcome from the update is the increment in Green Fins tools and resources downloads, a growth of 45.4% from the previous year.
Key highlights include the resignation of the founder of Reef-World, Anne Paranjoti. After 24 years dedicated to helping communities to tackle the many environmental threats facing their livelihoods, she has decided to step down as Chair and Trustee. The Reef-World team will sorely miss her guidance and support. Other highlights and new developments include: expanding the Green Fins online courses to meet the demand for education on sustainable diving from recreational divers with the development of the Green Fins Diver e-Course; selected for the Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge along with Reef Check Dominican Republic and Misión Tiburón in Costa Rica to foster innovative solutions to transform and revitalise the tourism sector.
Furthermore, there will be a significant shift for Green Fins as the charity is updating the membership structure for Green Fins members, moving towards a minimum acceptable environmental standard for dive and snorkel operators. The charity is also developing a ‘Green Fins Digital Membership’ to meet the growing demand for the Green Fins initiative and to support the national teams. All that will be accompanied by a new Green Fins logo that incorporates the Green Fins’ ethos, the vast network of country teams and members, and the initiative’s maturity.
“Community conservation is at the heart of Reef-World and Green Fins. Activities and initiatives that link communities around the world and provide open access to resources are a key part of a good future. We all have interesting days ahead. After a pandemic that has impacted all over the world, we know we have to face up to changes together and with the right view in our hearts, no matter what we start with today, we can do anything.” said Anne Paranjoti, Founder of The Reef-World Foundation.
“As we move towards 2022 at a rate of knots, we are a stronger, more dynamic and fluid team ready to take on new challenges. The biggest changes to Green Fins since its inception are about to take place and I have every confidence in our team’s ability to ensure that these changes benefit our stakeholders and prioritise coral reef health moving forwards,” said JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation.
“These are difficult and uncertain times but also exciting and a real chance to maximise our potential and the impact that we can have on a global scale with a stronger and bigger team,” he added.
With 32 national and local government agencies or NGO implementing partners engaged, Green Fins now has 82 active assessors, 32% of whom are female. The Green Fins national teams are looking forward to resuming training and assessments as soon as it is possible and safe to do so. In addition, plans for Green Fins’ expansion into Japan and Colombia are in place when travel opens up again.
Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, added: “This year, we were met with challenges we couldn’t have possibly predicted. The best thing about completely being forced to erase an entire year of planned activity is that you can take stock, cut out the background noise, and work out what your stakeholders truly need from you during these difficult times. It was so uplifting to see our core Reef-World team rally together and ride on the support of our partners and network as we redirected our efforts to ensure conservation impact despite the lack of grassroots work. We go into our next operational year stronger than ever, our digital profile specifically so, and we are really excited to start the next chapter of the Reef-World adventure.”
Reef-World would also like to thank its partners whose vital support has resulted in significant tangible benefits for the ocean: PADI; The Matthew Good Foundation; 1% for the Planet; Explorer Ventures; Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS); ZuBlu; GSTC; Dive O’Clock; WildSocks and Charitable Travel.