Issue 57 | 18 May 2022

On May 2nd, the United Nations observed the World Tuna Day to raise awareness about the importance of tuna and to promote more sustainable fishing practices. Tuna fisheries are a key economic sector for many SIDS which, thanks to their vast EEZs, can benefit from large fish resources. However, the sustainable use of this resource comes with multiple challenges including the need to control vast ocean areas, the lack of financial resources to improve their seafood value chains, and the climate change-induced alteration of fish stocks distribution patterns.

The story of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, that has become the only major ocean area where all tuna stocks are harvested at sustainable levels, is a formidable example of how SIDS are converting their challenges into opportunities to achieve their development ambitions and deliver on the 2030 agenda and the SAMOA Pathway. Through an integrated approach, at the heart of UNDP SIDS offer, Pacific SIDS have used innovative digital technologies to monitor fishing activities, they have improved their capacities in data collection and analysis to make informed fisheries management decisions, and they have developed public-private partnerships and blended financing mechanisms to improve their seafood value chains and create jobs. 

In this bulletin, we present examples of how the integrated approach, enabled by digital innovations and partnerships, is being implemented by SIDS from all regions to address climate justice, monitor and protect their environments, and create jobs while boosting their economies.

Image: Fransisco Blaha


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Keywords:   Rising Up For SIDS, green recovery, ocean equity, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, marine protected areas, SDGs, green recovery, data infrastructure, disaster recovery, gender equality, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, water solutions, blue bonds,  livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy
Country Corner
Image: UNDP Dominica

The lush northeast of Dominica is home to approximately 3,000 Kalinago people, the last remaining community of the Carib Indigenous people, after which the Caribbean region was named. A UNDP project is boosting capacities and livelihoods in the Kalinago territory with digital technology. 

The Government of Dominica has prioritized digital transformation in its new digital strategy and a pillar in its ambition to the first climate resilient country in the world. In early May the project delivered IT equipment, computers, a camera and conferencing facilities to enhance the capacity of the Kalinago council. A key objective of the project is to digitize council documents, support document management and upgrading the webpage, as a means to better safeguard the Kalinago community, to capture knowledge and cultural heritage and to preserve records from future losses due to hurricanes and other disasters.

As exogenous threats like COVID-19 or natural disasters continue to impact the region, the project is a strategic means to support government priorities in building resilience and bolstering livelihoods for traditionally vulnerable groups, part of a broader UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the "Blue Economy for Green Islands" vision.
Image: Global Fishing Watch
In 2018, Marshall Islands’ president set out an ambitious vision – to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) in the Pacific by 2023. To achieve this goal, Pacific SIDS must harness innovative technologies to protect our marine resources and the livelihoods of Pacific people including data-led insights complement already existing monitoring, control and surveillance tools.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands has again shown its leadership in ocean governance by now becoming the first Pacific island nation to make its fishing activity visible to the on Global Fishing Watch’s public map. As a member of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and one of eight Parties to the Nauru Agreement, the Marshall Islands has shown its commitment to conservation and transparency in ocean governance. Around half of the world’s tuna catch comes from Pacific waters, where they also hold great environmental, economic, and cultural significance. In the Marshall Islands, over one-third of the Marshall Islands’ domestic revenue comes from the tuna sector.

According to a recent study which to examine vessel activity throughout the region’s waters, enhanced monitoring and regional solidarity across FFA’s 17 Members has led to a decrease in throughout the Pacific. Six years later after Global Fishing Watch has launched, there remain mixed results about the success in driving transparency and accountability in the supply chain, since data-driven development requires action and integration into ocean supply chains.
Image: Fransisco Blaha

In SIDS, fishing is a way of life. It is important for livelihoods and food security alike. The importance of fisheries for the economies of SIDS is reflected in the SDG 14.7 and its indicator 14.7.1 which specifically measures the value of sustainable fisheries, expressed as a percentage of Gross domestic product (GDP), in SIDS and LDCs. In the pacific, fisheries are a key pillar for the economic development and contribute up to 9 percent and 10 percent of GDP in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall islands, respectively. This is mainly realized from Tuna fisheries. In fact, the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) provides almost 60% of the world’s Tuna, mostly from Exclusive Economic Zones of Pacific SIDS.

To efficiently harness their blue economy, SIDS need not only to develop new economic sectors (e.g, aquaculture, renewable marine energies), but also sustainably improve the productivity of their established sector like fisheries. For the Pacific tuna fisheries sector, this translates into capturing a maximum of value added and jobs from the Tuna resources nationally, for the benefit of islanders. The tuna catches of the Solomon Islands amount to about 150,000 tons annually or some 7 percent of the WCPO landings. However, most of this catch is processed in other countries due to the absence of national processing facilities. In a transformative public private partnership, the Solomon Island government, and International Finance Corporation (IFC), with support from the governments of Australia and New Zealand, are collaborating to develop a world class tuna processing plant in that could create 1,600 direct jobs and 4,000 indirect jobs. A highly significant number for a SIDS.

While climate change is predicted to redistribute Tuna in the Pacific, threatening the economies of Pacific SIDS, this development highlights the importance of the private sector in driving the blue economy transformation and demonstrates the value of regional and international partnerships. In fact, thanks to the efforts of 14 Pacific Islands nations, in partnership with a number of regional and global partners, the WCPO Tuna fishery is today the only major ocean area where all tuna stocks are harvested sustainably.

In the News
Image: Airbnb

Efforts to reinvent tourism offered a lifeline for SIDS in the midst of the COVID-19 restrictions and a strategy for building forward better from the pandemic. A major aspect of this shift has been the movement to attract digital nomads for longer stay visitors who can live and work remotely.

Barbados has recently ranked number one in the Caribbean and fifth overall in a global Executive Nomad Rating survey. With over 3,500 applications since the programme launched in mid-2020, the Barbados Welcome stamp has attracted professionals working remotely in the areas of engineering, IT, management health and administration, etc, often bringing new investments and opportunities to the island.

A new partnership announced this week between the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and AirBnB will help to support governments to promote their island and provide a smooth transition for new arrivals. The aim is to create a one-stop-shop for remote workers to encourage potential digital nomads to try a new location while boosting the economic recovery of the region. As part of the partnership the CTO has launched a “Work from the Caribbean” landing page on AirBnB to highlight and promote 16 destinations and provide information on digital nomad visas for each respective country (Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Guyana, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago).

Private sector partnerships are an important opportunity for SIDS governments and regional tourism authorities to amplify their message and to strategically diversify their offer in line with broader development goals, as outlined last month at the SIDS Global Business Network Forum in Palau.

Image: Alamy

Tourism is a key sector that provides more than 50% of export revenue in 20 SIDS. This sector, that mainly focuses on coastal areas, is affected by ecosystems degradation, overfishing, pollution, climate change and natural disasters like volcanos. The sector was also badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis with tourists' arrival decreasing by 77% in 2020 and 64% in 2021, when compared to 2019. In the Pacific, the impact was particularly damaging, and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) has reported an 82% decrease in tourist arrivals. This has created a need to shift the way the tourism industry in planned and managed.

In the Pacific, the Pacific Community (SPC) and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation teamed up to diversify the tourism offer through the establishment of UNESCO Global Geoparks that combine conservation, education, and sustainable development focused on local communities. Gary Lee, a Geotechnical Advisor at SPC indicated that “Geoparks are a strategic opportunity aligned with several regional priorities; they provide platforms to conserve the Pacific’s rich cultural heritage, act as outdoor classrooms, increase resilience of local communities against geohazards, elevate traditional knowledge, protect special landscapes for future generations, and have potential to act as climate change communication tools”.

While the COVID-19 this has caused significant impacts on jobs, livelihoods and GDP, in many SIDS, it gives them an opportunity to reimagine their tourism strategies towards more sustainable, inclusive and diverse forms of tourism built on maximizing the blue, green and orange economies.

Image: Vectorstock
Barbados is a small island nation with big ambitions to innovate and embrace emerging technology. Late last year the Government of Barbados was the first in the world to offer an embassy in the metaverse. On the domestic front the digitalization of government services is progressing rapidly, rebuilding and delivering high-volume services and making them ‘digital-by-default, many of them featuring the digital payments option, such as a new liquor license application.

The latest news from Barbados is regarding plans to adopt a mobile version of the national ID. This will replace a laminated ID card, in place since 1969, with a new secure, plastic ID card embedded with security features and coupled with a Digital Mobile Identity to facilitate identification and authentication within the digital environment. In addition to the facilitation of online transactions, the digital mobile ID will be able to be used for in-person verification, as a single source of government-approved identification.

In parallel, the government is rolling out a Smart City initiative for the capital city, Bridgetown, where public Wi-Fi is being introduced, in addition to plans for smart services in parking, environmental monitoring, traffic management, and mobile apps for tourism.

Image: Royer 2019

The main problem with sustainability is that it is difficult to measure. Managing sustainability at small island states level requires considering numerous external factors for proper decision-making purposes and the political and planning system in SIDS. Many recent studies focus on specific aspects of sustainable development including climate adaptation, to blue economy, sustainable tourism, or energy vulnerabilities.

A new research paper has developed A Sustainability Assessment Tool for Small Island States (SATIS) based on a fuzzy methodological approach with selected sustainability indicators for the three dimensions. Mauritius was used as the region of interest for the study, with indicators and values validated by local experts. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to identify indicator most important in the predictive model, and the results revealed that there were some indicators which required immediate attention. Decision makers and policy makers can adopt this model as a new approach for measuring sustainability performance for SIDS and can identify indicators to prioritize opportunities for impact.

Image: Bennet 2022

As growing demand and technological advances allow the exploitation of more - and new - marine resources, oceans are being recognized as a new frontier for economic development. The rush of public and private sectors to harness this potential exacerbates the risks on marine ecosystems, on economies, and on people who depend upon them. In fact, as recognized by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, inequity is a systemic feature of the current ocean economy with benefits are often harnessed by a few, while most harms are borne by the most vulnerable. However, social equity is a key foundation of the blue economy, especially in SIDS where indigenous communities' livelihoods, cultures and food security are intricately linked to the ocean and access to its resources.

A recent opinion paper presents 6 recommendations for mainstreaming equity and justice in ocean organizations, policy and practice: Develop awareness of past equity and justice issues in marine policy spheres; 2) Explore how equity and justice are defined and can be operationalized; 3) Mainstream equity and justice; 4) Increase organizational human dimensions capacity and ability to think socially; 5) Support marine social science research; and, 6) Commit to internal organizational equity, diversity. As SIDS are raising their blue economy ambitions, mainstreaming equity throughout the process could only reinforce the sustainability of the transition.

Image: UNDP Timor-Leste

SIDS have been developing robust climate change and gender actions plans, gender responsive NDCs and National Adaptation Plans as part of a continuous endeavor towards achieving climate actions that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Governments and civil societies have been able to consolidate their efforts, with support from the UN and international community, to strengthen their national policies and institutional mechanisms, and ensure that they are gender inclusive and responsive to climate change actions.

This publication highlights examples of gender responsive climate actions implemented by SIDS with the aim of contributing to the accomplishment of the climate commitments and goals, along with the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Enhanced Lima Work Programme on Gender.  Moreover, the paper sheds light on the transition of countries from policy to action and analyzes the enabling conditions necessary to implement gender responsive climate mitigation and adaptation actions on the ground. In this regard, the paper identifies best practices in SIDS to highlight the national efforts to enhance the development, adaptation, and implementation of gender responsive climate strategies and policies.

Further Resources

Experience Singapore - The role of digital in advancing SIDS' Sustainable Development

In the latest issue of ‘Experience Singapore’, Riad Meddeb shares his perspectives on the role of ‘digital’ in advancing Sustainable Development in the Small Island Developing States. The digital economy is a key component of a country’s national development. But bridging the digital divide — between people, social groups, and countries — is crucial for driving inclusive development. This is particularly true in case of SIDS which, although being diverse, share common vulnerabilities by virtue of their geography. In this context, Riad highlights the various ways in which UNDP is supporting SIDS in their digital transformation, including through Digital Readiness Assessments, capacity building, and providing technical advice on inclusive digitalisation. 

Recovery in Pacific Island Countries: An Orientation Guide for Parliamentarians

Recover better is a catchy hashtag. Unpacking what recovery packages can really contribute to blue and green economies and to the digital transformation can be an uneasy journey through jargon and slogans. Yet since the 2008 economic crisis, a body of literature and research has provided pointers to what investments can maximize benefits – in an inclusive and sustainable way. This publication summarizes some of these findings in Pacific SIDS. While its target audience are Members of Parliaments, many might find it a useful introduction to this broader debate on public finance and development trajectories.

Digital Earth Pacific: A Demand-Driven Approach to Addressing National Development Priorities through Earth Observations

Digital Earth Pacific will be a regional public good, allowing Earth observation data to be freely and openly accessible to users across Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Open algorithms and analytical capabilities will further enable governments, academic and research institutions, civil society and the private sector to create data products and services to support growth for entire economies, decision-making for research, national development priorities, and sustainable development. Digital Earth Pacific aims to provide a fundamental digital infrastructure that will ensure every nation in the Pacific has access to tools and technologies to routinely monitor and track challenges such as coastal inundation, coral bleaching events, illegal fishing, and other ocean related challenges.

High-Level Leaders Dialogue   Leveraging the Potential of Green Bonds to Scale Climate Action in Developing Countries, notably in LDCs

The High-Level Leaders Dialogue has brought together global leaders to highlight the actions needed for developing countries, particularly LDCs, to leverage debt markets to increase their access to affordable finance for climate action. The outcomes from the dialogue on Leveraging the Potential of Green Bonds to Scale-Up Climate Action are outlined in this document include to create a conducive investment environment, analyze the pipeline of underlying green assets, design and scale up financing instruments, strengthen investor relationships in LDCs, and to implement actions at scale through partnerships.

4th Oceans Forum UNCTAD Chair’s Summary

The objective of the 4th Oceans Forum was to identify opportunities for the ocean economy and trade to contribute to post-COVID-19 recovery and resilience within the mandates. The Forum focused on new and emerging ocean economy topics, including the seaweed sector as a lever for a sustainable economic recovery, fish subsidies and non-tariff measures (NTMs) reform, social sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture value chains, the decarbonization of shipping and maritime supply chains, and plastic litter and other ocean waste challenges. Five global actions identified include to promote non-polluting substances, finalize a fisheries subsidies agreement, address social issues in the ocean sectors, scale up access and use of technology, and to build sustainable and resilient supply chains.

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

BlueTech for Waster innovation Challenge

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through its innovation laboratory, IDB Lab, and in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF)1 seeks to support innovative solutions that contribute to the sound management of hazardous Chemicals and Waste (C&W) to protect human health and the environment, and address climate vulnerability in the Caribbean region. Applicants from any of the 48 members countries of the IDB Group can participate, including startups with “ready-to-implement” solutions, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), corporations, NGOs, and others with demonstrated expertise in managing the at least one of the priority waste streams.

When: Apply by May 31st

Demystifying Cryptocurrency and Digital Cash in the Caribbean

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: 03 June at 10:00 - 11:30 am AST

Ireland Fellows Programme

The Government of Ireland is offering scholarships for early to mid-career professionals from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to undertake a one year fully funded master’s level academic programme in Ireland.  The eligible programmes for SIDS Fellowships are in the areas of: Sustainable development, Climate change, Environmental science, Sustainable technology, and Engineering.
More information here.

When: Applications for the 2023-2024 academic year will be open starting 04 June 2022.

2022 Sustainable Ocean Summit and the first Blue Finance Summit

The World Ocean Council (WOC) has partnered with the City of Barcelona and Port of Barcelona to develop a global hub for the Blue Economy which will include the headquarters for WOC. The global blue economy business and investment organization will bring together industry leaders in ocean sustainable development, stewardship and science advancing ocean business leadership, collaboration and action on the SDGs. To celebrate this partnership, Barcelona will host two events:
The Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS) October 17-18  which aims to advance business and investment collaboration on sustainable ocean development. More information here. The Global Blue Finance Summit (BlueFIN) 19 October 2022. The will address a full range of ocean topics, such as: Blue Finance Opportunities, Ocean ESG Framework, and many others. More information here.

When: October 17 to 19

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