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Hong Kong's Archireef partners with First Abu Dhabi Bank to restore marine ecosystems in the Middle East

Hong Kong marine tech start-up Archireef will partner with the Middle East's biggest bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), to deploy terracotta tiles that will help restore the degraded reef ecosystem off the Arabian Gulf coast.

FAB will fund the deployment of 400 such tiles across a 100 square metre area off the coast of Abu Dhabi, which will support the recovery and development of underwater natural ecosystems, according to an announcement on Monday at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop28), held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The patented reef tiles, manufactured by Archireef's 3D-printing process, will provide a new habitat for 2,400 corals.

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"Our partnership with Archireef will ensure that adequate funding and pioneering technologies are deployed to protect and restore the UAE's corals," said Futoon Al Mazrouei, FAB's group head of consumer banking for UAE in a statement.

Hong Kong marine tech start-up Archireef has announced a partnership with the Middle East's biggest bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), to deploy the firm's 3D-printed terracotta tiles to restore the degraded reef ecosystem off the coasts of the Gulf nation. Photo: Archireef alt=Hong Kong marine tech start-up Archireef has announced a partnership with the Middle East's biggest bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), to deploy the firm's 3D-printed terracotta tiles to restore the degraded reef ecosystem off the coasts of the Gulf nation. Photo: Archireef>

The start-up said 50 per cent of coral reefs have been lost worldwide in the past three decades and scientists have projected that 90 per cent of the world's reefs will be gone by 2050.

Healthy coral reefs act as natural breakwaters by significantly reducing wave action, thus protecting coastal communities from natural disasters such as storms and floods.

"We believe financial institutions like FAB play a critical role in climate change mitigation and restoration, specifically by helping mobilise and deploy capital as well as engage their vast communities and ecosystem players in the journey," said Vriko Yu Pik-fan, CEO and co-founder of Archireef in a statement.

Without reefs, flood damages would increase by 91 per cent, amounting to US$272 billion. Well-managed reefs, on the other hand, provide food for 1.2 billion people, according to Archireef's website.

"Archireef's 3D-printed reef tiles allow marine life to take shelter, promoting the establishment of healthy marine ecosystems with increased reef associated biodiversity, including fishes and invertebrates," the website said.

In January this year, Archireef opened a new facility in the United Arab Emirates to make 3D-printed terracotta reef tiles.

In September 2022, the start-up launched its first cross-sector coral restoration project with Sino Group, Ocean Park Corporation, the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation and Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong.

The financial services sector and businesses must not only increase investments in nature-based solutions but also implement incentives to redirect finance from harmful activities, according to the State of Finance for Nature report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Canopy and the Economics of Land Degradation initiative, released on Saturday at Cop28.

Financial flows to nature-based solutions must almost triple from current levels of around US$200 billion to reach US$542 billion per year by 2030 and quadruple to US$737 billion by 2050 in order to help limit climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the report. This was also important for the Global Biodiversity Framework target which aims to protect 30 per cent of land and water considered important for biodiversity by 2030 and achieve land degradation neutrality, according to the report.

"Nature-based solutions are dramatically underfunded," said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. "Annual nature-negative investments are over 30 times larger than financing for nature-based solutions that promote a stable climate, and healthy land and nature. To have any chance of meeting the sustainable development goals, these numbers must be flipped."

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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