Issue 56 | 14 April 2022

As SIDS work to sustainably rebuild their economies following the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to highlight the opportunities of the ocean for resilient low-carbon growth. In a Blue Economy and Large Ocean States approach, the ocean is central for job creation, improved livelihoods, climate resilience, food security and competitive exports. Two conditions are of paramount importance to ensure this transformation in SIDS: protection of ocean health and unlocking of private investments.

This week was marked by two important events aiming at mobilizing partnerships and commitments to realize these two conditions - both hosted by the Republic of Palau. Palau has led the world in ocean innovations and protection measures, hosting one of the largest marine protected areas in the world—the Palau National Marine Sanctuary— which includes 80 percent of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

First, the SIDS Global Business Forum Network was held on April 12 in Palau, focused on ocean partnerships to enhance resilience in island nations and called for private sector partnerships for ocean-based sectors, to unlock new, sustainable economic opportunities that can foster diversification and resilience in SIDS. While the public sector can provide the enabling environment to accelerate the blue economy, private sector partnerships and additional financial resources are needed to operationalize this transformation through the development of poorly explored ocean sectors like renewable marine energies, aquaculture, and marine biotechnologies.

The second major event this week is the 7th Our Ocean Conference co-hosted by the Republic of Palau and the United States. The President of Palau Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., and the United States’ Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John F. Kerry, called on countries to "help make 2022 a turning point in protecting our ocean, while securing healthier communities and a cleaner planet” by decarbonizing the shipping sector, protecting and restoring blue carbon ecosystems, promoting sustainable fisheries, and confronting marine pollution.

In SIDS, the full development potential cannot be realized through the blue economy alone, and the ongoing digital revolution will be a formidable catalyst for this transformation. UNDP’s SIDS offer Rising up for SIDS, warrants an integrated approach where amplifying climate action and catalyzing digital transformation are also part of the equation. In this issue of the SIDS Bulletin, we highlight these interlinkages by showcasing how digital platforms are supporting community solar investment in Barbados, dialogues on climate action in the Marshall Islands, tree-planting in Comoros, a biosphere reserve in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and a new partnership to end plastic waste in Samoa.


Image: Charly W. Karl


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Keywords:   Rising Up For SIDS, green recovery, biodiversity, marine protected areas, SDGs, green recovery, data infrastructure, disaster recovery, sustainable development, machine learning, gender equality, youth-led data, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, water solutions, blue bonds, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy
Country Corner
Image: UNDP Climate Marshall Islands
SIDS have repeatedly shown they are vanguards of climate solutions, especially as the need to build resilience by leveraging nature-based solutions has become an urgent priority for all countries, particularly large-state oceans such as the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI).

Sea-level rise in RMI has already resulted in increasing floods and the deterioration of drinking and cooking water. In addition, rising sea levels in the Marshall Islands are expected to put 40 percent of current structures in the capital, Majuro, in jeopardy, with 96 percent of the city at risk of flooding as a result of climate change. As climate-related security issues are compromising the Marshallese people's future well-being, the country is ambitiously acting to tackle environmental security threats via transformative interventions that concentrate on the pressing needs of local communities.

Through their Ridge to Reef project, the RMI aims to integrate the management of terrestrial and coastal resources on key atolls/islands to protect biodiversity and livelihoods by increasing community and ecological resilience to threats and degrading effects through a five-year initiative that uses an integrated strategy to improve natural resource management in atoll communities and safeguard biodiversity.

This initiative intends to assist in the implementation of the Reimaanlok, Micronesia's National Conservation Area Plan, which was enacted in 2008 and aspires to effectively protect at least 30% of nearshore marine resources and 20% of terrestrial resources by 2020. The RMI are thus acting to accelerate the achievement of a more inclusive Blue Economy in SIDS. This project is relevant for SIDS and all coastal countries given the missed target of conserving at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas (SDG 14.5) and the increasing scientific evidence that no-take MPAs provide benefits to fishers, communities and ecosystems In the run-up to the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, the international community has an opportunity to accelerate conservation efforts at all levels and raise the protection ambition to 30% by 2030.

Image: UNDP Africa
Agriculture makes up 50% of the GDP of Comoros and employs up to 70% of its labor force. As the effects of climate change threaten to derail the recently gained development progress, it is essential to increase its climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.

To this end, and following the high-level political commitment announced during COP26 last year, the Comoros government has converted its promises to action through its reforestation campaign entitled “One Comorian, One Tree”, with support from UNDP through projects on resilience to climate change funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

More pressure than ever is being placed on its forests. Moreover, United Nations models indicate a potential reduction in dry-season rainfall of up to 47 percent by 2090 in the Small Island Developing State, increased rains in the wet season, and more severe cyclones hitting the country.

This nationwide campaign could therefore not come at a better time, with plans to plant 613,000 new trees on 571 hectares of land throughout the country. Beyond reforestation, the campaign has elements of youth engagement, awareness-raising, and restoring biodiversity through planting endemic species.

The benefits can be multiplied as highlighted by Andaliyat Mohammed, a curator and plant biology expert at the Comoros National Herbarium: “Green spaces in cities not only help mitigate the effects of air pollution through the reduction of photochemical ozone formation and CO2, they also reduce the urban heat effect (heat trapped in built-up areas) and contribute to reducing energy demand for air cooling by providing shade and evapotranspiration. Culturally, planting trees provide value for the enjoyment of the general public and allow them to rediscover endogenous species formerly spread on the coast of the capital town”.

Image: Shutterstock

Climate reduction and adaptation goals need significant investment. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is at the frontline of the climate crisis, but also at the forefront of climate solutions by putting in place climate action measures to establish a sustainable society, such as the 'Holistic Management and Sustainable Development of the Buccament Valley Biosphere Reserve' initiative in February 2022, with the goal of creating the country's first biosphere reserve. This stretch of land is home to 10 villages whose inhabitants are invested in its success with links to agriculture education and tourism, making it a good fit to focus on creating a harmonious ecosystem that will be a sustainable and thriving site in the heart of St Vincent and the Grenadines. This project is also coupled with the Enabling Gender-Response Disaster Recovery, Climate, and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) project, through which UNDP supports climate action, disaster risk mitigation, and environmental management activities to enable the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to improve resilience and response to shocks while providing social protection for the most vulnerable. Supported by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme, the initiative intends to achieve a sustainable future by supporting relationships between humans and nature. Biosphere reserves conserve biological and cultural diversity, encouraging the sustainable use of natural resources.

Image: UNDP Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean
The transition to renewable energy is urgently needed for SIDS. One of the priority areas of the SAMOA Pathway is sustainable energy, recognising that dependence on imported fossil fuels has been a major source of economic vulnerability and a key challenge for SIDS. The UNDP SIDS Offer has an objective for 6 million people in SIDS to have access to clean energy by 2030. A key factor for achieving SDG 7 in SIDS will be the deployment of sustainable energy technologies as an effective tool to raise productivity and competitiveness, energy security, energy access, and affordability, and to address the negative externalities of conventional energy systems. Reducing energy imports will build greater autonomy and stability in SIDS economies by accelerating the clean energy transition fundamental for their recovery. 

As such, many SIDS are also among the world's most ambitious on the renewable energy agenda, such as Barbados' National Energy Policy with a target to be 100% renewable by 2030 and Samoa's plan to reach full renewables by 2025. However, incentivizing investment in the sector is challenging with high up-front costs, bottlenecks, and bureaucratic procedures to navigate for installations. A Barbados company is transforming investment in the sector by offering an open digital investment platform that enables the public to make a de-risked investment in the sector and to provide the opportunity to make a profit from solar energy. Cloudsolar has helped more than 500 Barbadians invest in clean energy, making an average return of 8-10%, with an overall anticipated investment of up to $60 million in the solar industry over the next few years, with a 20-megawatt pipeline. The digital platform enables users to buy distributed solar assets to earn solar credits. The community solar project converts solar energy into electricity to power the Barbados electrical grid.

The aim is to democratize the sector so that anyone can own a piece of the new emerging industry and actively participate in the energy transformation of the island. The Cloudsolar model is intended for scaling and has the potential to be replicated in other SIDS. It has the potential to help small islanders to take greater control over their future energy needs and to reduce their vulnerability as price takers in this volatile market.

In the News
Image: UNFPA

SIDS youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow – they are actively innovating to confront the challenges of today. The new generation of dynamic leaders in SIDS have proven that they have a necessary perspective bridging traditional knowledge systems and modern technologies, and need to be enabled through further technical and financial resources to implement their ideas. Youth representatives from SIDS were important voices in designing the priorities of the SAMOA Pathway, and have continued to play an important role during the Covid-19 pandemic when seeking solutions to the multi-dimensional crises in SIDS in energy, food security, and economic diversification.

Youth are a large contingent of the SIDS community - in the Caribbean, 63% of the population is under 30. Young island leaders are also highly mobile and digitally interconnected. One challenge is linked to energy poverty in SIDS, which limits inclusivity in education and opportunities for youth. To address energy inequalities for youth, regional and national policy priorities are being aligned so their voices can be amplified equally.

Inclusive technological capacity can be cultivated for those digital tools most used in climate analytics and policymaking, including geospatial analytic tools and data science methods which can help equip youth to analyze their vulnerabilities and methods to address them. Design of technology must be local and community led, and youth as ambassadors of the technological revolution have a key role in ensuring that technology speaks to local needs and opportunities.

Building capacity in youth entrepreneurship can convert these ideas into action. Youth in SIDS are using their perspectives to transform classic industries through new technologies, such as the young agripreneurs in the Pacific Islands of Fiji, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu who are leading agricultural enterprises to build resilience and increase nutrition of their food systems using digital technologies. Collaboration between SIDS in sharing youth-led innovations is essential for addressing the geographical dispersion and lack of access to youth funding. Regional networks like the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub act to cultivate partnership and coordination mechanisms that increase opportunities for youth. Many scholarships and funding opportunities are developing to help youth in SIDS accelerate their participation in SIDS’ transformative development.
Image: UNDP Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau

In the wake of UNEA-5 where member states adopted the historic resolution to End Plastic Pollution and agreed to design a legally binding instrument by 2024, we bring you a story of a partnership between UNDP and CRDC Global, a Costa Rica-based company, to address plastic pollution in Samoa. CRDC Global is known for its ground-breaking eco-aggregate material made from mixed plastic waste, known as RESIN8™. This material improves the performance of structural concrete products and is a great example of end-to-end circularity, as RESIN8 can be crushed and re-used at its end life. This will encourage the adoption of a lifecycle approach to the sound management of plastic pollution, thereby reducing the environmental impacts of the products, services, and supply chain processes.

The awareness-raising and communication component of the project focuses on educating children and youth from more than 30 schools in the Apia area to promote understanding and awareness of the concept of circularity and holistic lifecycle management approaches. “Through a plastic recovery program called ‘The Bag That Builds’, students will drive the segregation of household plastic waste to prevent landfilling and leakage into the environment.”

Many SIDS in the Pacific region are looking to implement zero-waste solutions to address plastic pollution. “The modular nature of CRDC’s plastic waste solution is perfect for small island states such as Samoa. To truly solve the plastic waste problem, we need a collaborative zero-waste solution that involves everyone in the plastics value chain. As such, we need to look beyond short-term solutions like increasing capacity at landfills and focus on education, collection, and upcycling of plastic waste, in full alignment with the priorities of the government,” said Mr. Jorn Sorensen, Resident Representative of UNDP in Samoa. 

Read more on Samoa’s plastic and waste issues in this feature story from UNEP: Where does waste go on a small island?

Image: Asian Development Bank

In recognition of World Water Day on March 22, it is important to reflect on SIDS’ progress toward meeting SDG 6 on access to clean water and sanitation. Freshwater resources in SIDS, often limited primarily to groundwater, are exposed to several challenges including extreme weather events, declining water quality, and increased exploitation from demand for consumption and industry. 71% of SIDS face risks related to water shortage, especially those with a population that lives closest to sea level. These challenges result in difficulty in access to sanitation and safe drinking water as well as in the protection of sensitive ecosystems. 

SIDS are developing innovative approaches tailoring solutions to their complex geographical and socioeconomic constraints, and adopting sustainable management systems to adapt to vulnerabilities in groundwater systems and improve human and institutional capacity and technical knowledge. Monitoring freshwater quantity and quality is necessary to optimize the productive use of these resources across diverse sectoral demands, but geographic challenges have limited the access to information necessary for decision-making, which can be optimized to manage climate risk. These data can also be integrated into mapping and resource planning, such as in the newly released Caribbean Rainwater Harvesting Toolbox.

To achieve SDG 6, several indicators need to be reached related to water-use efficiency, water quality, and integrated management and protection of water resources. SIDS are implementing internet-based telemetry monitoring networks to facilitate data transfer from rainfall, streamflow, salinity, and water abstractions. This data can be integrated into Spatial Data Infrastructures to facilitate disaster risk and hydrological management. To implement these solutions sustainably, projects require investment in establishing and maintaining infrastructure, as well as collaboration with local agencies to develop analytic capacity from borehole and geophysical data. Integrated flood and drought management plans are necessary to help build resilience to hydrological disasters, informed by inventory and mapping of water resources as well as quantification of sustainable yields. Learn more through IGRAC’s platform GRAPHIC on groundwater and climate change in SIDS, as well as the indicators used in the Transboundary Waters Assessment Program for SIDS.

A new development-oriented resource for Asia-Pacific policymakers

This UNDP volume covers policy and institutional shifts accelerated by the pandemic; measures for improved human conditions; and new modes of governance at the national, regional and global levels. Topics addressed include accelerating actions to address the climate emergency; innovations to avoid productivity and value chain slowdowns; the centrality of digitalization and universal internet access; a renewed focus on human insecurity and inequality; bringing back the conversation on global public goods and modernizing state capability.

The digital copy is freely available here.

Caribbean Rainwater Harvesting ToolBox

Many rural areas throughout the Caribbean live without a pipe borne supply of water, forcing individuals to walk miles to get a potable supply of water. Their only source of water is from rivers, standpipes or paying for the delivery of water by water trucks. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) can be a means of self-reliance for these communities, especially in the southern islands in the Caribbean where there are high rainfall levels. On World Water Day 2022​, the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) has relaunched its Caribbean Rainwater Harvesting ToolBox to share information on RWH and to improve knowledge on conducting RWH under safe and sanitary conditions. The Toolbox is a compilation of research materials on RWH in the Caribbean and best practices applicable to the region.

A new science-based guidance toolkit designed for exploring the potential of nature-based solutions

Financial institutions, investors, and their clients have an important role to play in restoring and maintaining oceans and marine biodiversity. The Diving Deep Guidance is a science-based guidance toolkit designed for such groups to help break the pollution cycle and manage the impacts of coastal infrastructure projects such as seawalls while exploring the potential of nature-based solutions including mangroves and reefs.  It leverages the experiences of over 70 institutions and experts, trailer blazers in Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles. It also encompasses recommendations on the financial dealings in coastal infrastructure and resilience and waste prevention and management including plastics. At its core, the guidance will help asunder activities that damage the fragile marine ecosystem.

Antigua & Barbuda launches first tourism podcast

"The Beach is Just the Beginning,"  is a multiple-episode podcast hosted on Spotify, Amazon Podcasts, and other leading podcast platforms where experienced and inexperienced travelers alike can learn about Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism scene from its historical backdrop, to its exotic gateway islands and world heritage sites. Started by the country’s tourism authority, the podcast also highlights the country’s unique cultural blend and unforgettable travel experiences through conversations with local experts and public figures.

Mobile Money 10th Global Report GSMA

Two billion people remain unbanked, without access to safe, secure and affordable financial services. To truly transform the financial lives of underserved people, mobile money is becoming a central monetisation mechanism, universally available across a greater range of digital transactions. By making mobile money more central to the financial lives of these users, greater financial inclusion, economic empowerment and economic growth can be achieved. This latest report dives into the trends and opportunities of the mobile money sector globally, offering insights into the past decade and into the future, exploring commercial models and the role of the industry in driving financial inclusion for the underserved.

Financing for Sustainable Development Report

The 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report: Bridging the Finance Divide identifies a “great finance divide” – the inability of poorer countries to raise sufficient resources and borrow affordably for investment. This contributed to developing countries being unable to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and will hold them back from responding to new crises and investing in sustainable development. Developing countries need reliable and affordable financing to invest in the SDGs.

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

2022 UN Ocean Conference

The 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon will seek solutions in addressing the threats to health, ecology, economy and governance of the ocean - acidification, marine litter and pollution, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the loss of habitats and biodiversity. To mobilize action, the Conference will  propel much needed innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action involving green technology and innovative uses of marine resources.

When: 27 June - 1 July

Island Finance Forum 2022

The Island Finance Forum brings together senior financiers, development partners and regulators to share and exchange expertise on sustainable and inclusive financial structures in island communities. The Forum aims to highlight the unique financial challenges faced by global island communities and the solutions for sustainable economic recovery and inclusive growth in a post-pandemic world. The Island Finance Forum will host content tracks on risk & insurance, climate finance, renewable energy finance, blue economy, blockchain and cryptocurrency, and start-ups ecosystems. 

When: 25-29 April 2022

The Digital Revolution: Fostering Inclusion and Resilient Growth , World Bank 2022 Spring Meetings

Developing economies have embraced innovative digital solutions that are enabling economic transformation and putting them on a path toward green, resilient, and inclusive growth. Private and public investment in digital solutions is bringing critical services to the poorest, creating jobs, strengthening small and medium businesses, enabling trade and services, and building resilience to shocks. At the same time, more than half the developing world remains digitally unconnected, and risks around privacy and cybersecurity are growing worldwide. This event will explore how countries can boost growth, productivity, inclusion and resilience as they recover by embracing private sector innovation coupled with enabling government policy.

When: April 20 at 11:00am EST

eCommerce Week 2022: Data and Digitalization for Development

UNCTAD in collaboration with eTrade for all and other partners will organize the eCommerce Week that will take place in hybrid format in Geneva and online from 25 to 29 April 2022. This year’s edition will focus on “Data and Digitalization for Development” and will be an opportunity to 1) Discuss ways to broaden the policy debate on harnessing cross-border flows of digital data through the development lens, 2) Hear from leading partners and stakeholders about critical challenges to harnessing data for value creation in the digital economy, and 3) Learn more about a whole-of-society approach to digital transformation.

When:  April 25th - 29th, 2022

Climate Action Scholarship with the University of Melbourne

The Melbourne Climate Action Scholarship is available to students from Pacific Small Island Developing States who wish to pursue graduate courses or a research degree at the University of Melbourne in subjects related to the consequences of climate change in the Pacific. The fellowship was founded by the University of Melbourne as part of a collaborative effort with the Universities of Cambridge, Toronto, Montreal, and McMaster, and was endorsed by HRH Prince of Wales, a long-time advocate of sustainable causes and climate-change action. The application timeframe will run from July 1st to September 30th.

Register HERE

When:  July 1st - September 30th, 2022

2022 ECOSOC Youth Forum

The voices of SIDS youth will play a key role in the discussion at the 2022 ECOSOC Youth Forum during the plenary sessions and interactive thematic and regional discussions to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The forum will focus on the perspectives of youth to shape policy recommendations at other intergovernmental fora including the UN Ocean Conference, the UN Transforming Education Summit, and the Financing for Development Forum.  

Register HERE

When:  April 19th - 20th, 2022

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