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Reef 2050 Plan Investment Framework

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Commonwealth of Australia

Latest documentation


Designed for use in

Great Barrier Reef catchment



Assessment purpose


Assessment criteria

Management and planning, Economic

Method type

Desktop, expert panel, consultation


Medium-long term – Consistent investment classifications should be used for each priority area, for example:
  • Immediate priorities—to commence within first 18 months
  • Medium priorities—to commence within first 30 months
  • Future priorities—to commence within period of the plan.


Landscape/Catchment, Region

Wetland system

Estuarine, Marine, Other

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The Reef 2050 Plan Investment Framework[1] was developed to guide investment decisions for the delivery of Reef 2050 Plan actions.


The Investment Framework prioritises investment decisions based on the investment principles within the Reef 2050 Plan, which consider:
  • Key threats identified in the most recent Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report
  • Best available science, and the feasibility or likelihood that actions can be carried out under current conditions
  • Timeframes for implementation and the objectives and targets the actions will contribute to
  • Relationships between actions and possible groupings to deliver the best outcome
  • Complementary benefits these actions will deliver
  • How the outcomes of the prioritisation process are best integrated into implementation plans
  • Capacity of implementing agencies, organisations, and industries
  • Expected timeframes for benefits to be realised.

Using this investment framework, six priority areas were identified from the Reef 2050 Plan (2015 – 2020) for future investment:
1. Reef Water Quality Protection Plan actions
2. Field Management Program actions
3. Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program actions
4. Crown-of-thorns starfish control actions
5. Traditional Owner actions
6. Fisheries actions.

This prioritisation process is designed to be repeated as part of the Reef 2050 Plan’s five-yearly adaptive management cycle, when new Reef 2050 Plan actions are developed.

Method logic

The Investment Framework comprises three phases:

1. Establish existing investment
2. Determine investment priorities for the future
3. Identify strategies for boosting investment.

Establishing existing investment involves identifying existing direct investments for Reef 2050 Plan actions from as many sources, including all levels of government, industries, community groups and philanthropic organisations. Investment data should be allocated at an action-by-action level across the five years.

Determining future investment priorities draws on science, community, and industry advice at all stages of prioritisation. An initial prioritisation process should be undertaken that considers the full suite of Reef 2050 Plan actions. Focus should be placed on immediate priorities as they will inform or contribute to the delivery of longer-term actions.

Identifying and developing strategies to boost funding requires seeking expert advice from Traditional Owners, science, industry, community, and the financial sector to explore options and models for diversification of funding sources and discuss details on how options could be delivered. Strategies for delivering on Reef 2050 actions for each priority area should be considered across the following categories:
  • Revisiting traditional funding mechanisms (e.g. traditional funding mechanisms like government programs and non-government initiatives to boost funding for priority areas)
  • Fostering private and philanthropic partnerships (e.g. pooling resources, dollar-matching schemes, co-funding models, crowd sourcing and financial donations)
  • Developing conservation finance projects (e.g. developing conservation finance projects that make a financial return for investors)
  • Using regulatory and policy levers to direct investment (e.g. changing legislation, increasing compliance effort, introducing/reviewing/increasing levies)
  • Tapping into non-financial resourcing (e.g. donating access to assets, using citizen science)
  • Seeking co-benefits through complementary funding sources (e.g. using existing social, environmental, and economic funding programs to fund Reef 2050 actions. For example, infrastructure upgrade projects like road upgrades can be targeted at unsealed roads in Reef catchments, which would reduce sediment running into the Reef)
  • Investing in innovation to reduce funding needs (e.g. investing in research, developing new technologies, improving coordination).

Criteria groupings of the method

The Reef 2050 Investment framework groups actions under three criteria groupings:
  • Outcomes and benefits arising from implementing actions from each priority area identified in the Reef 2050 plan
  • Cost and capacity to deliver actions in Reef 2050 priority areas
  • Sequencing of the actions.

Data required

  • Amount of funding available for investment
  • Knowledge of the Reef 2050 Plan objectives and targets
  • Expert and stakeholder information
  • Knowledge of existing funding mechanisms, including complementary funding sources
  • Knowledge of existing regulatory and policy levers
  • Knowledge of existing non-financial resources
  • Understanding of areas that will benefit from potential innovation

Resources required

Expertise required

High-level expert knowledge, conceptual understanding of the priority areas, stakeholder engagement.

Materials required

Access to funding data, data management tools, expert knowledge.

Method outputs


  • Template for prioritising investments
  • Detailed profiles for each priority area
  • Time frames for prioritising actions


  • Determining priorities for on-ground actions to achieve the objectives and targets of the Reef 2050
  • Great Barrier Reef management

Criteria by category


    • Cost and capacity to deliver actions in Reef 2050 priority areas
      • Cost of completing action (e.g. low, medium, high, unknown)
      • Relevant stakeholder groups with resources to support action delivery

    Management and planning

    • Cost and capacity to deliver actions in Reef 2050 priority areas
      • Existing activities amongst stakeholder groups that will assist with implementing action
      • Information availability for informing delivery of action
      • Probability that action can be completed
      • Relevant stakeholder groups with expertise to support action delivery
    • Outcomes and benefits arising from implementing actions from each priority area identified in the Reef 2050 plan
      • Effectiveness of action in meeting targets and objectives of Reef 2050 plan
      • Feasibility of detecting benefit from action
      • Level of complementary benefits action will deliver
      • Spatial scale of benefit that action provides (e.g. local, regional, reef-wide)
      • Success of action in addressing threats identified in Reef 2050 plan
      • Targets and objectives of the Reef 2050 plan that action contributes to
      • Time frame to achieve benefit (e.g. short-, medium-, long-term)
    • Sequencing of the actions
      • Timeframe when the action will be commenced (e.g. immediate, medium-term, future priority


Recommended user

State and federal governments, investors, Great Barrier Reef managers, and other natural resource managers.


  • Transparent process to prioritise investments to deliver Reef 2050 actions for priority areas
  • Comparison of actions for priority areas
  • Designed for cost-effectiveness and viability
  • Evidence-based
  • Step-by-step process
  • Incorporates threats into actions and prioritisations


  • Dependent on expert and stakeholder input
  • Only relevant for the six priority areas identified within the Reef 2050 plan
  • Robustness of results is limited by information quality
  • Can be resource and time intensive

Case studies

Crown-of-thorns Starfish Control Actions

In Reef 2050 Plan—Investment Framework, Commonwealth of Australia 2016.

Field Management Program Actions

In Reef 2050 Plan—Investment Framework, Commonwealth of Australia 2016.

Fisheries Actions

In Reef 2050 Plan—Investment Framework, Commonwealth of Australia 2016.

Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP) Actions

In Reef 2050 Plan—Investment Framework, Commonwealth of Australia 2016.

Reef Water Quality Protection Plans Action

In Reef 2050 Plan—Investment Framework, Commonwealth of Australia 2016.

Traditional Owner Actions

In Reef 2050 Plan—Investment Framework, Commonwealth of Australia 2016.



  1. ^ Commonwealth of Australia, Reef 2050 Investment Plan Framework. [online], Australian Government. Available at:

Last updated: 14 April 2021

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2021) Reef 2050 Plan Investment Framework, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation