At a prestigious ceremony held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco presented Professor Hughes with the 2018 Climate Change Award, recognising his contribution to advancing understanding of the influence of rapid climate change on the world’s coral reefs.
“I wanted to create these Awards in order to offer all my support to the exceptional men and women who have made a commitment to saving our planet,” said H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Professor Hughes is internationally renowned for his outstanding research leadership in the field of coral reef ecology and his work to raise the profile of coral reefs and their vulnerability to unchecked climate change.
In 2016, Professor Hughes convened the National Coral Reef Taskforce to coordinate Australia’s response during the global mass coral bleaching event.
Later that year, Professor Hughes was recognised by Nature magazine as one of Nature’s “Top Ten People Who Mattered This Year” for his leadership in responding to this unprecedented event. Nature dubbed him “Reef Sentinel,” for the global role he plays in applying multi-disciplinary science to securing reef sustainability.
“Professor Terry Hughes is a highly decorated and well respected scientist—an esteemed Australian Laureate Fellow who has provided important leadership as Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies,” said Australian Research Council CEO, Professor Sue Thomas.
“On behalf of the Australian Research Council, I commend Professor Hughes on achieving this international recognition, which recognises his ongoing efforts and contribution to advancing reef science research.”
Professor Terry Hughes said he was delighted to receive the award.
“I am deeply grateful to Prince Albert and the Foundation for honouring me in this way, and I would like to acknowledge the important contribution by many, many colleagues around the world.”
The Foundation’s awards ceremony has taken place every year since 2008 to honour key international figures and organisations who have made an exceptional commitment to safeguarding the planet. Recognition is given for exceptional contributions to one of three priority fields of activity, including climate change. Previous recipients of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Awards include Dr Jane Goodall, Prof David Suzuki and Sir David Attenborough.
Ms Catherine Naum
Communications Manager, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
P: +61 (0) 0428 785 895, +61 (0)7 4781 6067 (AEST)
We can fix the Great Barrier Reef
Leading coral reef scientists say Australia could restore the Great Barrier Reef to its former glory through better policies that focus on science, protection and conservation.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the authors argue that all the stressors on the Reef need to be reduced for it to recover.
An Australian Government report into the state of the Great Barrier Reef found that its condition in 2014 was “poor and expected to further deteriorate in the future”. In the past 40 years, the Reef has lost more than half of its coral cover and there is growing concern about the future impacts of ocean acidification and climate change.
“We need to move beyond the gloom and doom to identify how the decline of the Great Barrier Reef can be turned around,” says co-author Professor Terry Hughes from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (JCU).
“Our paper shows that every major stressor on the Reef has been escalating for decades – more and more fishing, pollution, coastal development, dredging, and now for the past 20 years we’re also seeing the impacts of climate change.”
“We now have a very good handle on why the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble,” adds co-author, Jon Brodie from the Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystems Research at JCU.
“The challenge is to use that scientific knowledge to prevent further damage and give the Reef some breathing space that would allow it to recover.
Co-author, Jon Day, also from the ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies at JCU says an obvious first step is to prevent unsustainable growth in each of the stressors to reduce their cumulative impact.
“If that means less dredging, less coal mining and more sustainable fishing, then that’s what Australia has to do. Business as usual is not an option because the values for which the Reef was listed as World Heritage are already deteriorating, and will only get worse unless a change in policy occurs.”
The authors say that as countries around the world move to curb global carbon emission, Australia has an opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels and to limit the development of huge coal ports alongside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
“No-one is saying Queensland should not have ports – however, what we are saying is that all developments within, and adjacent to, the Great Barrier Reef need to be far more sustainable in the way that they are developed and operated, especially because they adjoin a World Heritage Area, “says Jon Day.
The authors agree that no one wants to see the Great Barrier Reef placed on UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage Area In-Danger’ list.
The Great Barrier Reef needs breathing space to recover. Image courtesy of State of Queensland
“The economic case for better protecting the Great Barrier Reef is very clear – it supports more than 60,000 jobs, mostly in Reef-related tourism,” says Professor Hughes.
The scientists have outlined a six-point plan they believe will restore the Great Barrier Reef, including;
A return to the former emphasis on conservation and protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
Australia taking a lead role in tackling climate change by transitioning away from fossil fuels.
Permanent legislative bans on dumping both capital and maintenance dredge spoil within the World Heritage area.
An overhaul of the environmental impact assessment process for new developments
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) reinstated as the agency responsible for all aspects of the Great Barrier Reef, including fishing and ports. A 50-year plan and adequate funding for the use of the catchment designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural run off.
Jon Brodie says Australia is starting to reduce runoff of nutrients, sediments and pesticides from land into the World Heritage Area, and is improving regulations for dumping capital dredge-spoil, but much more action is needed.
“These efforts are a welcome step in the right direction, but they will need much better resourcing in order to substantially reduce pressures on the World Heritage Area.”
The authors say the global community must make it clear that they want more effective policy action to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is restored for current and future generations.
“This paper raises awareness of the untapped opportunities to incorporate science into better policy to ensure we still have a magnificent Great Barrier Reef in the future,” Terry Hughes adds.