This report is based on one of the recommendations from the 2014 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) “Scientific Workshop on Coral Reef Resilience in Planning and Decision-support Frameworks” to address the question can intermediate depth reefs serve as “lifeboats” for increasingly stressed coral reef ecosystems? This question was addressed by bringing together thirty-five MCE experts from around the globe to document what is known about MCEs, the threats they face and the gaps in our understanding. MCEs are one of the few remaining ecosystems on earth that remain largely unexplored. While MCEs are deeper and more remote than shallow coral ecosystems, they are still subject to some of the same impacts such as bleaching and habitat destruction. We are just beginning to understand MCEs, but they have provided a glimmer of hope that, in some locations, they may resist some of the most immediate impacts of climate change, and may be able to help re-seed damaged or destroyed surface reefs and fish populations. Their ability to do this depends on how well we manage them. This report can help catalyze greater efforts to understand and protect mesophotic deep reefs, as a key part of United Nation efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda.