Coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass meadows are hotspots of biodiversity and provide services with an estimated global value of >9.9 USD trillion per year. Many countries in tropical regions, including countries bordering the Red Sea, depend heavily on these ecosystems for shoreline protection, fishing grounds and as an important source of revenue from ecotourism. In fact, the Vision 2030 program to transform the economy and society of Saudi Arabia has now brought the Red Sea to the forefront of development strategies, which recognize pristine coastal ecosystems in the Red Sea as globally-relevant assets. Whereas this could be seen as a threat to vulnerable ecosystems, we believe this is also to be a huge opportunity to develop innovative approaches to development that enhance, rather than impact, these ecosystems. Yet global pressures, such as climate change, pose risks and require that cutting edge science and technology be employed to ensure a future for Red Sea ecosystems.
The KAUST Research Conference: "Securing a Future for Red Sea Ecosystems" brings together experts from academia, industry and government to discuss the current state of research and to develop feasible strategies to improve current mitigation and restoration methods. This event aims to produce a set of targeted strategies that are sustainable, socioeconomically acceptable and aligned with public, academic, industry, and government interests.