27% of the world's coral reefs have disappeared in the last 50 years, and 32% are threatened with extinction, according to a recent NASA study. Yet corals are the lungs of our planet, guarantors of the balance of the Earth's ecosystem and the survival of 60 million people around the globe. My Coral Garden, a startup co-founded by Anne-Sophie Roux, recent graduate of the Sciences Po Doctoral School, is the first social enterprise that allows you to plant coral to rebuild these endangered reefs, mitigate climate change and support coastal communities that rely on marine life. We spoke with co-founder Anne-Sophie Roux who explained the project.
In Asia and the Pacific, Anne-Sophie discovered the crucial importance and the fragility of our Oceans’ ecosystems: she decided to find one of the many solutions to save them. © Blue Sphere Foundation
Coral reefs play a leading role in our oceans and are the lungs of our planet: like trees, they emit oxygen and absorb carbon. They also ensure food security for millions of people, and enhance local economies by protecting them from climatic disasters. Thanks to a gap year within her Master's in Comparative Politics at Sciences Po, Anne-Sophie Roux became involved in the front lines of climate change, alongside the most vulnerable communities, from the Pacific Ocean to the Himalayas. With her associate, they discovered that it is possible to plant a coral as easily as it is to plant a tree. After 15 months spent in the Asia-Pacific region, they witnessed the positive impacts of rebuilding the reefs for both the environment and coastal communities.
© Anne-Sophie Roux / My Coral Garden
Plant Corals with My Coral Garden: How and Why?
We all know the positive effects of planting trees: the return of biodiversity, the protection of neighboring communities, the regeneration of soils, oxygen emission,... But we generally know little about corals: hidden beneath the surface of the oceans, they play the same role and hold the same functions as forests on Earth, and planting them is as easy as planting a tree! This is precisely what the team of My Coral Garden in Malaysia, where the first two Coral Gardens are located, offers.
My Coral Garden connects vulnerable communities that plant corals to restore their ecosystems, ensure their food security, curb climate change, protect against typhoons or erosion - and you. By building bridges between individuals, businesses, foundations, and these communities, the team of enthusiasts actually make it possible to refund your carbon footprints and to become an actor of change in an original, human and sustainable way.
From Sciences Po to Social Entrepreneurship in Asia-Pacific
During her Master's degree at the Doctoral School of the rue Saint-Guillaume, Anne-Sophie retained the enrichment of the multi-disciplinary approach, and the international dimension of the program. Having just finished her dissertation on the empowerment of the most vulnerable communities to climate change in the Philippines, she hopes to "put into action" the theoretical training she received at Sciences Po. "Although the research field is often perceived as a somewhat closed-off world, it is more and more opening up to concrete fieldwork, with opportunities that are quite conducive to innovation," says Roux. Finally, in the context of the global climate crisis, the importance of acting on both fronts - that of research and that of the invention of alternatives - is, according to her, crucial. Sciences Po thus gave her the opportunity to innovate while receiving an important theoretical background necessary for the construction of her project.
Act for the oceans
If you are interested in acting for the oceans, stopping the decline of the reefs and helping the most vulnerable communities, you can become a changemaker, give your coral a name and watch it grow on the My Coral Garden website! Through the platform you can follow the growth of your coral, meet the divers who care for them, but also meet the members of the local community via video reports and interviews. You also have access to detailed reports on the evolution of your reefs and the growth of your corals. Specific packages for companies are also available on request.