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International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen in July 2022

In 2021, it had to be organized virtually, this year it will be held face-to-face in Bremen: In July 2022, the university will host the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS). There will be numerous accompanying public events starting in May.

"For us, the 15th World Coral Reef Conference is a very special event from several points of view," says Professor Christian Wild from the University of Bremen, who is organizing the event with his team. "After almost two years of pandemic, scientific exchange in presence is finally possible again." However, certain digital elements will not be dispensed with this time. The purely virtual concept for the 14th ICRS, born out of the need of the pandemic, revealed new possibilities that will now also benefit the 15th ICRS. Important events will be streamed and will therefore be available to participants who are not able to come to Bremen. Participants can also publish their work digitally. In addition, a joint initiative of the International Coral Reef Society and the University of Bremen has made it possible for all participants from the global South to present their scientific work digitally and free of charge at the 15th ICRS. Professor Andréa Grottoli of Ohio State University and president of the Coral Reef Society: "We are pleased that this has enabled us to expand scientific exchange, especially with colleagues for whom travel costs and conference fees are often not affordable."A broad exchange is more important than ever as the world continues to face a coral reef crisis. The existence of these ecosystems is in danger. The main causes are climate change, overfishing, and the pollution of the seas.

Monday, July 4: Opening Ceremony with the Federal Minister for the Environment

The opening ceremony of the 15th International Coral Reef Symposium will take place on Monday, July 4, and will begin with a performance, developed especially for this event, by the Bremen-based artist group "Stelzen-Art." The approximately 1,000 researchers from over 90 countries will be welcomed with talks held by:

  • Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for the Environment
  • Professor Andréa Grottoli, President of the International Coral Reef Society
  • Dr. Claudia Schilling, Bremen Senator for Science
  • Prince Albert II of Monaco
  • Andreas Bovenschulte, Mayor of Bremen
  • Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter, President of the University of Bremen
  • Professor Christian Wild, Chair of the Coral Reef Symposium

Bremen presenter Anneke teer Veen will host the opening event.

Tuesday, July 5, Dedicated to "Ways Out of the Crisis"

The 15th ICRS 2022 is not just about current and future threats. An important goal is to find solutions to the coral reef crisis. Tuesday, July 5, is therefore "solutions day." All events on this day of the conference will be dedicated to the theme “Ways Out of the Crisis." "It is precisely because of this solutions-oriented approach that this conference has a very special significance," says Professor Christian Wild. "And the sooner we tackle these solutions, the better."

Federal Minister for the Environment: "Conference in Bremen important for networking of all actors"

The global crisis of coral reefs is scientifically founded and has been extensively documented. The 14th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in 2021 made important and groundbreaking contributions in this regard. The upcoming 15th ICRS in 2022 will provide a good overview of the current situation. Now is the time to focus on solutions and actions to address the challenging future of the world's coral reefs.
Dialog between science and politics is an important building block for initiating positive change. Federal Minister for the Environment Steffi Lemke: "In order to preserve and better protect coral reefs worldwide, we need a global response and a networking of actors in politics, administration, and science. The International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen provides the framework for this. We are facing a threefold challenge: the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, and the pollution crisis. That is why more needs to be done to protect coral reefs, in addition to ambitious climate protection measures. Germany is already committed to protecting these unique ecosystems as a member of the International Coral Reef Initiative and as part of the International Climate Initiative."

In order to further advance the dialog between the various actors, a science-to-policy dialog will be held as part of the "Solutions Day" on Tuesday, July 5, from 2 to 3 p.m. It will be based on the policy paper published at the 14th ICRS 2021, entitled "Rebuilding Coral Reefs: A Decadal Grand Challenge." The paper outlines three pillars of action for rebuilding coral reefs: addressing climate change, improving local reef conditions, and harnessing innovation, particularly for reef restoration. The paper targets worldwide decision makers from politics, administration, economy, and civil society. It offers a summary of the most relevant and recent findings in natural and social sciences and thus provides a basis for discussions and negotiation regarding environmental and nature protection, climate change, and sustainable development on local and global levels.

From May: Exhibitions, Lectures, and Film Nights for the Public

Together with the Übersee Museum Bremen, the House of Science, and the marine conservation organization DEEPWAVE, the ICRS organization team has been able to realize numerous events in the Hanseatic city. This has also been made possible by funding from the Bremen Natural Science Association and the Senator for Climate Protection, Environment, Mobility, Urban Development, and Housing. "It is important to us to use the ICRS to properly inform as many people as possible about the problems threatening the existence of coral reefs," says Professor Christian Wild from the University of Bremen.

Film Nights:

Friday, May 20: The House of Science will show the Emmy award-winning documentary "Chasing Coral." Afterwards, there will be an opportunity to discuss the film with scientists Christian Wild (University of Bremen) and Simon Jungblut (Bremen Natural Science Association – NWV Bremen). Two of the film's protagonists, James W. Porter and Zackery Rago, as well as Andréa Grottoli (ICRS), will also be participating virtually. Entry is free.
Thursday, June 30, 2022: "Saving Corals – ICRS Film Festival" with exciting and unusual film contributions is scheduled to take place from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m. at the Schauburg movie theater in Bremen. Admission is free here as well. The film festival is a cooperation with DEEPWAVE e.V., the University of Bremen, and the 15th International Coral Reef Symposium – ICRS 2022.


Sunday, July 3: At 2 p.m., the exhibition: "Colorful Diversity, White Death – What Colors Tell Us About Coral Reefs" by Professor Christian Wild and Professor Andréa Grottoli, President of the International Coral Reef Society, will open at the House of Science in Bremen, Germany.
Since May 2021, the exhibition "Coral Reefs – Diverse. Vulnerable. Lost?" has been on display at the Übersee Museum Bremen. Visitors can learn all there is to know about the importance of coral reefs for the oceans, as well as the threats they face from overfishing, pollution, climate change, and ocean acidification until July 10, 2022. There is also information on effective conservation measures. The exhibition is bilingual (English/German) and therefore also worth a visit for international guests in Bremen. The Übersee Museum Bremen and the organization team of the ICRS 2021 at the University of Bremen jointly curated the exhibition.


May to July: Once a month, the House of Science on Sandstraße will offer lectures on the fascinating and threatened underwater world of tropical coral reefs as part of the "Knowledge at 11" (“Wissen um 11”) series.

ICRS the World's Most Important Event on Coral Reefs

The International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) is by far the most significant global conference that focuses on the ecosystems of coral reefs. Since 1967, people from academia, coastal management, environmental protection, and politics have met every four years to present their current research findings. Bremen is the first European location to host an International Coral Reef Symposium in the more than 50-year history of the event. "We are proud that Bremen has been given this honor," says researcher and ICRS organizer Professor Christian Wild. Another first: the 15th ICRS is to be held in a climate-neutral manner. This goal is to be achieved through both CO2 avoidance and compensation payments.

Bremen Is a Scientific Hub in Marine Research

Bremen has a wealth of expertise in marine research and an excellent network of partners. At the university, the neighboring non-academic institutions within the Bremen Technology Park, and throughout the region, researchers in oceanography and environmental physics, marine geosciences, and marine biology and chemistry are collaborating across disciplines. Legal sciences, social sciences, and humanities are also closely linked to the field of marine research. Marine, polar, and climate research is a high-profile area at the University of Bremen, which is strategically promoted. MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen is the home of the “The Ocean Floor – Earth’s Uncharted Interface” Cluster of Excellence. There, researchers cooperate closely not only with local institutions but also with international partners. Such a range of expertise at one location is unparalleled in marine sciences in Germany and is only realized at very few locations worldwide. Coral reef research highlights this. “It was important to me that all Bremen institutions that work on coral reefs are involved in organizing the 15th International Coral Reef Symposium,” adds Professor Christian Wild. Various actors from the University of Bremen are participating – representatives from the following institutions agreed to his request and are contributing to creating the 15th ICRS: for example the BreMarE – Bremen Marine Ecology Centre for Research & Education and MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences. Other Bremen-based non-university institutions also deal with coral reefs, such as the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI), and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven. They are all helping to shape the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Bremen.

All Press Events at a Glance:

Opening ceremony:

Monday, July 4, 2022, 9 a.m., CCB Hansesaal (registration required, invitation for the press will follow in June).

Press conference(separate invitation will follow in June 2022):
Monday, July 4, 2022, 9:45 to 11:30 a.m., Congress Centrum Bremen

Additional note for media:

Appointments for original sound bites or interviews outside the press conference are also possible.
In this case, please take into account that there may only be limited dates available. There is a chance to visit the Department of Marine Ecology (UFT Building) run by ICRS Chair Professor Christian Wild of the University of Bremen on Friday, July 1, all day by appointment. It will also be possible to visit laboratories and speak with students.

Author: Heinz Krimmer


Further Information:

All public event dates at a glance:

The strategy paper for the science-to-policy dialog can be found here:

Further information on the science-to-policy dialog: German only)

Press information, registration, and downloads for ICRS 2022, July 3 to 8, 2022, are available here:


Heinz Krimmer
Press Office
ICRS 2022 Conference Team
Marine Ecology
University of Bremen
Email: Icrs2022.pressprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de
Phone: +49 176 55008505

A yellow fish swimming in a coral reef
Egypt, Red Sea: Coral reef near Marsa Alam with blue-cheeked butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus). The world continues to face a coral reef crisis and the existence of coral reefs is in danger. The main causes are climate change, overfishing, and the pollution of the seas.