Commonwealth partners with Coral Restoration Consortium to launch Storytelling Hub

03 December 2023
Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, at the launch of the Coral Reef Consortium Storytelling Hub

The Coral Restoration Consortium has joined forces with the Commonwealth to launch a unique online platform that will share the stories of people protecting and restoring coral reefs worldwide.

The Hub will leverage the power of storytelling to raise awareness of these fragile ecosystems and the work of the communities saving them.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC launched the project at the Commonwealth Pavilion on Day Three of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai. It marks the beginning of a collaboration between the Commonwealth and the Coral Restoration Consortium (CRC).

The launch was attended by representatives from international organisations, civil society, Commonwealth member countries, young people, climate experts, and coral restoration practitioners.

Two people from Kiribati attend an event at the Commonwealth Pavilion at COP28

Globally, around 1 billion people depend on coral reefs for jobs, food, or both. They are also home to 25 per cent of all known marine species but are declining rapidly due to the collective impacts of climate change, poor water quality, overfishing, pollution, and unsustainable coastal development.

Recounting global restorative efforts

The Secretary-General welcomed the Hub as a resource for documenting community stories from more than 100 coral reef nations globally. Narrating her own story, she said:

"I grew up around oceans and have seen the most amazing corals. Their beauty was stunning, as was the diversity of life around them. When I grew older, I started seeing corals dying. Some people thought it was unfortunate that corals were dying because they were so pretty. Now they realise that corals are also necessary and play a pivotal role in protecting us."

She continued:

“One of the greatest privileges and pleasures I have had as Commonwealth Secretary-General, is planting new corals in the Caribbean, new corals in the Indian Ocean and new corals in the Pacific, to regrow and regenerate our reefs. Our partnership with the Coral Reef Consortium celebrates people at the frontlines of protecting and restoring our coral reefs, which are the most threatened marine ecosystems on earth.”

In his remarks, the Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said:

“While we discuss the preservation of coral reefs, we need to think of how we can preserve the entire tropical belt.” He added that the private sector could play a significant role in supporting efforts.

The Storytelling Hub will offer tools for knowledge-sharing and capturing and preserving coral restoration efforts, starting with South Pacific Commonwealth countries.

CRC's Executive Director, Dr Tali Vardi, at a Commonwealth Pavilion event at COP28
CRC's Executive Director, Dr Tali Vardi, at the launch of the Coral Restoration Consortium Storytelling Hub

Commenting on the compelling role of storytelling in driving behavioural change toward the reefs, CRC's Executive Director, Dr Tali Vardi, said:  

“There is such an important story to tell as so many people around the world fight to keep pockets of this magical ecosystem alive while corals bleach before our very eyes. We have data, statistics, science, and innovation - but for an issue as complex and important as the coral reef crisis, we must partner with the people restoring the reefs to utilise the oldest and most human tool – storytelling. 

“We must listen to the people on the frontlines of the coral reef crisis. The CRC Storytelling Hub is designed to be the place where restoration practitioners from around the world can tell the story of the crucial, and often invisible, work they do to save this ecosystem.” 

Capturing the Reef's Narrative through Film

Panellists spoke about the importance of bringing personal stories to light. Commonwealth Blue Charter Adviser Heidi Prislan said:  

“With the Commonwealth being home to 45 per cent of the world’s coral reefs, storytelling platforms such as this are critical to help communities highlight their innovative and collaborative restoration projects and share their knowledge with likeminded people throughout the globe.”

The Storytelling Hub will feature short films made by citizen documentary makers that capture their coral restoration efforts.

The Consortium has partnered with Toddy Stewart and Oiseau Studios in New York to create a ‘CRC Citizen Documentarian Guide’ to help people capture reef stories and support funding, advocacy, and recruitment efforts.

In one of the films screened at the launch, Avicenna Wijayanto from Coral Catch Indonesia, stressed the importance of raising awareness about coral reefs, not just for the ocean, but for people to realise that the small things they do for the environment matter.

The films will be available on the CRC website.

For more information, follow #CommonwealthForClimate or visit our COP28 hub.

Media contact

  • Ijeoma Onyeator  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

  • E-mail