The Asia-Pacific is a region of global significance. Most of its nations are undergoing rapid economic growth, but importantly it also cradles more than half of the world’s marine species, with coral reefs being among the most crucial ecosystems distributed within the biodiversity hotspots that encompass Southeast Asia and northern Australia. Despite their importance, coral reefs here are threatened by a variety of stressors, including coastal modification and rapid climate change, giving rise not only to ecological implications but also to socio-economic impacts.

To draw attention to these threats and to work together towards practical solutions, the 1st Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium was organised in 2006 to provide a platform for scientists, educators, managers, environmentalists, and other stakeholders in the region to share their knowledge and expertise on the fields of coral reef biology, ecology, management and conservation, with the intention of forging greater cooperation and effective programmes for collaboration to preserve our common marine natural heritage.

Held every four years and hosted by different institutions in the region, the number of participants has increased steadily from 250 in the first Symposium to more than 500 in the fourth Symposium. The expanding networks of people involved in the event illustrate the ever-growing interest and urgency in conserving coral reefs and marine resources in the region.