Caring for Coasts Initiative​

The Caring for Coasts Initiative for Global Coastal Restoration​

Coastal wetland ecosystems are crucial for biodiversity and people, but are under immense pressure from unsustainable development. The Caring for Coasts Initiative for Global Coastal Restoration recognises the value of these coastal wetlands, and aims to build a constituency of stakeholders to drive concerted action to restore these important ecosystems worldwide, under the proposed Global Coastal Forum. The initiative is supported by the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity, in collaboration with the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), BirdLife International and Wetlands International.

The value of coastal wetlands

Coastal wetland ecosystems provide some of the highest ecosystem service values of all biome types, with the global and local water cycles strongly dependent on wetlands[1]. Coastal habitats deliver multiple ecosystem services supporting water security, as well as providing disaster risk reduction from storm and tsunami impacts; sustaining commercial and local fisheries stocks; supporting human health, recreation and livelihoods; being invaluable in supporting climate change mitigation and adaption; and providing habitat for biodiversity. The estimated value of ecosystem services from mangroves and tidal marshes alone is between US$1,995 and $215,349/ha/yri.

Rationale and background

Despite the great many benefits that arise from the conservation and sustainable use of coastal wetlands, these ecosystems continue to be degraded and destroyed at a rapid pace. The Review of Global Assessments of Land and Ecosystem Degradation and their Relevance in Achieving the Land-based Aichi Biodiversity Targets[2] commissioned by the CBD Secretariat states that half of all global wetlands have been converted, and highlights wetlands as the most degraded ecosystem among the six assessed. In addition, there is a significant global shortfall in establishment of protected areas covering marine ecosystems including coastal intertidal areas. The global Wetlands Extent Trends Index found that wetlands have declined by 30% from 1970 to 2008, and coastal wetlands have suffered greater declines than inland wetlands[3].

While efforts to prevent habitat decline remain of major importance, the restoration of degraded ecosystems will play an increasingly important role because of the scale and rate of loss already experienced. CBD Parties have committed to restore habitats under Aichi Targets 14 and 15 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Actions needed to meet these commitments were agreed at CBD Decision XI/16[4], Decision XII/19[5] and Decision XIII/5[6].

Additionally, the Bonn Challenge (Germany, 2011) aims to restore 150 million hectares of lost forests and degraded lands worldwide by 2020, and the Hyderabad Call for a Concerted Effort on Ecosystem Restoration (CBD COP11, India, 2012), made by concerned stakeholders[7], invites coordinated long-term efforts to mobilise resources and facilitate ecosystem restoration activities for the benefit of all. Maintaining and restoring wetlands also appears more cost effective than equivalent man-made infrastructure.

However, restoration efforts under CBD so far seem to be focused primarily on forests despite the pressures on coastal wetlands being as strong, or stronger, than those on forest ecosystems. The Caring for Coasts Restoration Initiative will provide the stimulus for collective action to facilitate the restoration of these critically important but often neglected areas, as mandated by CBD Decision XII/19 and Decision XIII/5, and Ramsar Resolution XII/13.

As a result of their interest in coastal restoration, CBD COP12 invited Parties to give due attention to the conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands, and, in this context, to consider options to build a Caring for Coasts Restoration Initiative as part of a global movement to restore coastal wetlands.


Goal of the Initiative

The vision of the Caring for Coasts Restoration Initiative is that global coastal wetlands are restored for the benefits they bring in disaster risk reduction, maintaining local livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, climate change resilience, blue carbon sequestration, and overall sustainable development. It is anticipated that this initiative will form one component of the proposed Global Coastal Forum, which is intended also to encompass protection and sustainable management of coastal ecosystems, as called for by CMS Resolution XII.25, Ramsar DR xxx and CBD draft decision xxx.

Presently, it is envisaged that the Caring for Coasts Restoration Initiative will have three main components:

1.    Document and share case studies and lessons learned and develop best-practice guidelines for what works in coastal wetland restoration and recovery.

2.    Provide technical support to Parties and other stakeholders through making available tools and methods for use by local and national decision makers in assessing costs and benefits of different coastal wetland restoration options in relation to local sustainable development of coastal wetlands, including identifying and assessing coastal wetland ecosystems services such as provision of natural solutions for disaster risk reduction and livelihoods.

3.    National-led identification of priority coastal wetland areas for protection and for undertaking restoration.


Implementing the Initiative

The Caring for Coasts Restoration Initiative will have shared ownership by interested Parties and supporting partners. Countries should identify a focal point representative of the ministries with responsibility for coastal zone management to advance this initiative, including further development of the concept, developing a plan of work for the Initiative and establishing a steering committee to oversee implementation. Interested Parties would identify and prepare a program of work to meet the Caring for Coast objectives. Further, countries might choose to become regional or global champions to develop and encourage the work of this Initiative.

Interested Parties are invited to prioritize actions that contribute to this Initiative for funding by existing financial institutions and mechanisms, and could choose to support the Initiative further by making a financial pledge to support the common issues of the Initiative.


Support for the Initiative

This Initiative is supported by the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), BirdLife International, and Wetlands International, who can provide technical and scientific advice, awareness raising and any other relevant and appropriate activities for the implementation of this Initiative. We encourage CBD Parties and other interested partners to take up this Initiative for the benefit of all.



Supplementary annexes containing information on questionnaire and relevant side events

Supplementary annex containing responses from CBD parties and interested stakeholders


Contact details for more information

Ding Li Yong, BirdLife International,

Nicola Crockford, BirdLife International,

Catalina Santamaria, Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat,


[1] Russi, D., P. ten Brink, A. Farmer, T. Badura, D. Coates, J. Forster, R. Kumar and N. Davidson (2013). The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity for water and wetlands, IEEP, London & Brussels; Ramsar Secretariat, Gland.

[2] Caspari, T.,  Alexander, S., ten Brink, B., Laestadius, L. (2014) Review of Global Assessments of Land and Ecosystem Degradation and their Relevance in Achieving the Land-based Aichi Biodiversity Targets: A technical report prepared for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD). Draft document prepared for Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity Twelfth meeting, UNEP/CBD/COP/12/INF/18.

[3] Dixon, M. J. R., J. Loh, N. C. Davidson, C. Beltrame, R. Freeman, and Walpole, M. (2016). Tracking global change in ecosystem area: the Wetland Extent Trends index. Biological Conservation, 193, 27-35.

[4] Inviting Parties, other relevant organizations and the Executive Secretary to undertake activities to support countries in implementing ecosystem restoration, including providing capacity-building in the form of workshops; compilation of information, including through a website; further development, as necessary, of tools and guidance; clarification of terms and definitions; and pursuing opportunities for collaboration. In the same decision, the COP also recognized the need for funding for these activities and called upon donors and others accordingly.

[5] Invites Parties to give due attention to the conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands, and, in this context, welcomes the work of the Ramsar Convention and initiatives that support the conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands, including options to build a “Caring for Coasts” Initiative, as part of a global movement to restore coastal wetlands

[6] Adopts the short-term action plan on ecosystem restoration, as contained in the annex to

the present decision, as a flexible framework and adaptable to national circumstances and legislation for

immediate action towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Targets 5, 12, 14 and 15, and Targets 4 and 8 of

the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, and other internationally agreed goals and targets.

[7] Governments of India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa, SCBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC, the Ramsar Convention on  Wetlands, GEF, UNEP, UNDP, UNFF, FAO, IUCN, and SER.