Epistemic status: This is just my impression. It is based primarily on a few conversations with a conservation-inclined friend, and reading a tiny bit on wikipedia and in the Economist.
"Coral Assisted Evolution, a $4 million research project, was funded by the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group. This supported Gates' research for four years from 2016, developing super corals that can withstand climate change.[...] If Gates' project is successful, it could save [$9.9 trillion USD]."
So just based on that estimate, that would be a 2,500,000x return if her project was successful (using only that funding). This makes it seem like this type of research is dramatically underfunded.
Three considerations I haven't looked in to:
- Are there still people to fund (e.g. her collaborators) in this space?
- How much funding is there, in total, for such projects? (Her obituary in the economist makes her seem like a maverick and the world leader in her area).
- How much more research/funding would it take to bring this research to fruition?
It's hard to imagine an answer to these questions that would challenge the central claim that this work is dramatically underfunded.
Based on my current understanding, I'd strongly recommend EAs to look into this cause area, and/or respond to this post with their thoughts.