Prof. Jan van Tatenhove and PhD candidates Eira Carballo Cardenas and Linde Van Bets of ENP were invited to the Royal Palace Symposium on the future of coral reefs in the Caribbean on December 6th of 2017 at the Damsquare in Amsterdam, because of their expertise, ongoing research and research collaborations in the Caribbean. The symposium was hosted by the Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. Royal Highness Princess Beatrix also participated in the symposium.
Andre Kuipers, a renowned Dutch astronaut, opened the symposium. The symposium was chaired by Han Lindeboom, Professor in Marine Ecology at Wageningen University. The first speaker was Jeremy Jackson, Professor Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. He addressed the scale and causes of the decline of coral reefs in the Caribbean, in relation to natural factors as well as human activities like overfishing and tourism. He also mentioned there is hope for the coral reefs of the Dutch Caribbean, and especially for Curacao and Bonaire, which are still in a relatively good status.
Glenn Thode, Rector of the University of Aruba, was the second speaker. He addressed the importance of governance and socio-economic conditions which could influence coral reef conservation and restoration. One of the aspects he addressed was awareness about the importance of this coral reefs.
After dinner, the symposium continued with a discussion with the audience. The goal of the symposium was to emphasize the role of humans to contribute to proper conservation and restoration of healthy coral reefs in the Caribbean, and more specifically in the Dutch Caribbean islands. The discussion focused on how and who should organize this in a proper manner. One of the ideas put forward was a Delta plan, but rather for coral reef conservation and restoration.