A Swiss initiative to save the last «coral refuge» on Earth.
The Transnational Red Sea Center is a scientific research center created in 2019 at the Ecole Polytechnique fédérale in Lausanne (EPFL) with the official support of the Swiss Foreign Ministry. An independent and not-for-profit organization, the Center capitalizes on Switzerland’s neutrality, its longstanding tradition of promoting dialogue and its reputation for scientific excellence in order to bridge science and diplomacy for the future of coral reefs. In the Red Sea and beyond.
Unite scientists in the Red Sea countries and drive collaborations to push further our understanding of the biological mechanisms by which the Red Sea corals have achieved their extraordinary resistance to climate change, which makes them unique compared to other corals.
Promote environmental protection policies for the Red Sea coral ecosystem by engaging public and private actors through scientific, educational and cultural collaboration at the regional level. Pave the way for future technological applications potentially enabling to rehabilitate other reefs worldwide.
Over the past 30 years, 50% of corals have disappeared globally due to global warming, pollution, and other destructive human activities, and only 10% are expected to survive past 2050. The demise of coral reefs means the loss of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems and poses a major threat for the stability of many regions around the globe, where hundreds of millions of people rely on these fragile ecosystems for their existence.
But there is hope. Recent scientific studies have shown that corals in the northern Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba are extremely resistant to rising water temperatures, making the Red Sea a de facto unique coral refuge on Earth. Hence the urgent need to protect theses reefs from other local sources of destruction through transnational collaboration.
The Transnational Red Sea Center will increasingly federate scientists from each partner country and from a wide range of disciplines, including oceanography, biology, genetics, ecology, geology, nature conservancy, civil and environmental engineering, social science, demography, agronomy, industrial fishery, water resources, economy, informatics, and ‘big data’.
It will make direct use of already existing research platforms in the different partner countries, to become a virtual Environmental Science University of the Red Sea region, and will have a very significant and broad international outreach, including to coral research centers in Australia, Japan, China, France, and the USA.
The Red Sea region is rich in diversity that has, in the past, led to conflict and geopolitical tension. A key objective of the Center is to unite the Red Sea countries across political, religious, and cultural boundaries in the common pursuit of scientific knowledge that will form the basis for protection of the Red Sea corals.
Science is not only the basis for effective environmental protection, it also offers a common and even platform for dialogue, permitting people of different conviction and cultural background to communicate effectively. The Center will therefore, through its scientific activities, contribute directly to create a peaceful dialogue between all partner-countries in the Red Sea region.