Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Coral reef are considered the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems on earth. They are a world-wide symbol of the economic and ecological importance of all types of coastal environments. The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) was developed in 1994 to increase the awareness of the human and anthropogenic threats facing reefs. Initially a U.S.-focused initiative, ICRI now includes over 70 like-minded governments and a growing list of UN organizations, science and academic organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector as its partners. This qualitative case study was developed based on actual participation in the initiative and hundreds of pages of documents ranging in scope from internal draft documents, meeting notes, to the Aprill 1996 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development report. The study provides background information as to why and how the initiative was created and it examines how the four strategies utilized: partnerships, coordination, integration, and capacity-building, contributed to the success of ICRI. The primary finding is that no single strategy can be credited with ICRI's achievements to-date, but that all the strategies as a whole, along with the political timing of the Initiative, and the host agency (U.S. Department of State), all contributed to ICRI's achieving its goal in year one; to increase global awareness of the fragile nature of reefs, their critical importance to humans world-wide, and encourage actions to address the threats facing them. This study concludes with some lessons learned that may be useful to similar global efforts.