Updating global policy with the extinction status of reef-building corals

Project Summary

The Red List of Threatened Corals is arguably one of the most important biodiversity indicators in global policy circles, highlighting the imminence of massive and irreversible climate impacts to nature. This project will update the Red List of Threatened Corals and the coral Red List Index, last calculated in 2008. To meet the urgent deadlines for communicating a result during key 2020 global policy processes, the project will use a crowd-sourcing online approach to update the status of corals by mid-2020.

Key facts of the project:

• Influence the major global policy processes of 2020 by re-assessing the red list status of coral species globally;
• Use an online crowd-sourcing approach, for the speed and parallel processing needed to meet the urgent deadline, and to reduce costs and increase the sustainability of Red List assessments;
• Develop a data repository and online tools that will facilitate future updates, and regional, national and other scale assessments.
Project description


– to influence the key policy events in 2020 that will respond to updated information on the extinction risk of reef-building corals worldwide.


1. Update and assess the global threat status of reef-building corals;
2. Update the Red List Index of reef-building corals;
3. Provide targeted inputs into key global policy processes in 2020, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Ocean Conference, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Given the urgency of the task and excessive cost and carbon footprint of the normal travel and workshop consultations, the assessment will be done using online tools to link remote teams. We aim to recruit up to 150 scientists with experience in coral reef ecology and coral species work, to participate in small groups of 10-20, each dealing with subsets of species. Within each group, individuals will take responsibility for certain species, and validate the work of their peers.

Key global and regional datasets will be prepared for online access: coral species ranges, reef status and trend layers, and global layers of pressures, threats and resilience. Additional local to regional data may be added through a group peer review process.

See more about the project through this flyer (link)

Key policy events in 2020:

UN Ocean Conference. Lisbon, Portugal. 5-9 June 2020.
IUCN World Congress, Marseille, France. 11-19 June 2020.
International Coral Reef Symposium. Bremen, Germany. 5-10
Conference of Partices, Convention on Biological Diversity, COP15. Beijing December 2020.


-IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature

-Red List