On the 30-31st May, our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) met in London to review our progress and assess our plans for the coming year. This group of 19 renowned international coral scientists, managers, and engineers, drawn from around the world, provide impartial guidance and recommendations on our overall strategy, funding priorities and targets.
They also monitor project performance and review our overall results, making sure we are using our combined resources and knowledge to build the best possible future for corals.
Gearing up for grants
Last year, CORDAP launched the Coral Accelerator Program (CAP), a grant program of up to USD$18 million, to be used for innovative solutions that can help secure a future for corals and reefs in the face of climate change and environmental pressures. At this meeting, the SAC reviewed the best of the shortlisted proposals put forward for the first set of awards.
We received a total request of USD$ 112M. From our first round evaluation, $40M worth of the most exciting and impactful proposals progressed to the next stage. With the winners due to be announced later this year, the projects had already undergone a rigorous review process, but additional oversight from the SAC will help ensure that only the most promising and impactful solutions will ultimately be selected for funding. What was clear from the quality and the sheer volume of applications we received, is that there is an urgent need to significantly increase the available funding for this work.
“We need next-generation solutions to achieve the level of restoration needed in the next decade. Projects awarded funding under this program are expected to lead to significant discoveries, innovations and improvements in current coral protection and restoration.” said David Mead, CORDAP Scientific Advisory Committee Chair.
Projects were only selected for consideration if the solutions they provide will be low enough cost for the communities who need them most to be able to apply them. Global inclusivity was also key. Teams who submitted applications needed to consist of organizations from at least two countries, one of which must be a low or middle-income country, as listed by the OECD. Finally, any IP created must be made available free for anyone to access and build on the research and technology created using our funding.
“Most corals are in developing countries, but their citizens do not participate in research due to lack of capacity and access. This is the first research program that ensures their participation,” said Professor Anastazia Banaszak, CORDAP Scientific Advisory Committee Vice-Chair.
Building our knowledge base
The meeting was also an opportunity to share updates on scoping studies that were produced following three workshops we’ve held since last September, with the SAC asked to make recommendations on next steps. These workshops focussed on assisted and natural adaptation, frontiers of coral aquaculture and cold water corals. Full reports on all three will be released later this year.
Finally, the team looked at what learnings we can apply from the last call for funding applicants, to make the next round even stronger, and discussed how best to grow the SAC. This is so we can add even more expertise to our transdisciplinary team, ensuring CORDAP can continue to draw upon the best minds available.
Find out more about the SAC and what they do.