The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s natural wonders and is the largest coral reef on Earth. However, the Reef is under pressure from a range of threats, including climate change. The Australian Government is investing $1 billion over 9 years (2021-22 to 2029-30) to help ensure that one of Australia’s national treasures, the Great Barrier Reef, is protected for future generations.
Since 2014, the Australian Government has committed over $2 billion for Reef protection, which has helped to improve water quality, control outbreaks of coral-eating
crown-of-thorns starfish, address plastic pollution and rehabilitate island, coastal and reef habitats.
We are optimistic about the future of the Reef, and the communities and jobs that depend on it. We are with the Reef for the long haul. We will reflect this in our planning and interventions arising from this investment, and will demonstrate this commitment through regular and transparent reporting.
Accelerating progress to Reef 2050 Plan targets
This new package of measures demonstrates the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to protecting the Reef, building on an already unprecedented $2 billion Australian Government investment since 2014. The new investment will accelerate progress towards meeting our targets under the recently updated the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan).
Actions under the new investment package
The Reef’s ability to adapt to climate change is fundamentally tied to the success of efforts to reduce stresses from other threats. This includes poor water quality, crown-of-thorns starfish, and some impacts from fishing and other commercial activity. It is important to maintain the gains made from existing projects, reward farmers for the key role they are playing and step up investment in some areas to accelerate delivery. This investment will continue to harness the capacity, optimism and enthusiasm of the community to deliver on-ground and on-water projects, and bring forward efforts to trial innovative coral restoration strategies.
This new investment will continue to strengthen our actions to reduce pressures on the Reef and develop interventions to support adaptation of the Reef, but must be combined with concerted global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible.
Components under the package include:
* these components will be delivered by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment with administered funding provided through the Reef Trust Special Account.
# this component will be delivered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Commitment to science-based decision making and effective community engagement
Our record investment in the protection of the Reef will be driven by the best science, genuine engagement with local communities and industries, and respect for the rights and knowledge of Traditional Owners. Our communities carry Australia’s pride in the Reef, and we will continue to support our farmers, tourism operators, fishers and all our local communities to be our Reef champions and partners. We will support them to be ambitious and will celebrate their achievements as stewards of the Reef.
There is a large body of scientific evidence underpinning the policies and programs for protecting the Reef, and our management of the Reef depends on confidence in this underpinning science. Australian science related to the health, resilience and management of the Great Barrier Reef is world-leading, as evidenced by publications of high impact papers in international peer-reviewed journals. The institutions conducting this science, including the CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Queensland Government and universities, are internationally renowned for the outstanding quality and impact of their work.
For Reef water quality, all relevant research is synthesised in the form of the five-yearly Scientific Consensus Statement. This in turn informs the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s five-yearly Outlook Report and the joint Australian and Queensland government Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan, which is currently undergoing its 5 yearly review and update.
Implementation of investments
Investment will be delivered through a range of funding mechanisms that allow for collaboration, innovation and cost-effective delivery of environmental outcomes for the Reef. This includes a range of approaches including:
- competitive grants, which will be advertised through the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s website and via GrantConnect.gov.au (the Australian Government's grants information system)
- specialised procurements and market-based mechanisms
- co-investment arrangements; and
- direct payments.
The funding mechanism most suitable to delivering a particular project and achieving environmental outcomes will be determined during the project design and the investment prioritisation process. For each phase of investment, the Australian Government will consider the priority actions required to be delivered and the most cost-effective ways to deliver those actions.
The design and delivery of water quality projects will be continuously informed by the best available science, including research conducted under the National Environmental Science Program (NESP), actions set out under the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan, the GBRMPA Outlook Report and the Scientific Consensus Statement on Reef Water Quality, which are all subject to periodic review and updates.
Scientific and expert advice will be obtained from the Reef 2050 Independent Expert Panel, Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan Independent Science Panel. Programs will build on existing efforts, seek stakeholder feedback on their design, and be delivered in close collaboration with the Queensland Government to ensure alignment of activities.
A portion of the new funding in the package will cover costs associated with the management of the investment package by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
Reporting on the outcomes from our investment
Water quality reporting is well established through existing government investment, through funding of the Queensland Government-managed Paddock to Reef program and water quality report card process.
Additional mechanisms for reporting of other outcomes of the funding package will be determined through the project design and prioritisation process, which will be undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment during the initial phase of funding delivery.