Issue 52 | December 2021

Sustainable development in SIDS is a complex endeavor and while most of the focus tends to be on the economic recovery, an essential enabler, there is also a need to focus on people. In the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science, UNESCO’s member states gathered in Paris to study and adopt a new 8-year medium term strategy which will place greater emphasis on indigenous and local knowledge as an integral part of its strategy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle climate change. The knowledge of indigenous peoples of the Pacific, the Caribbean and the AIS regions must be tapped into and preserved. Island natives often have intimate knowledge of the oceans they steward and important skills and solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation.

On this occasion, HE Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on the Ocean said via video message: “Holders of diverse knowledge systems, including indigenous and local holders will be essential to the success of this Decade…. Indigenous knowledge involved in those ancestral voyages is deeply humbling to those who came after” said Thomson. Placing people at the center of sustainable development is imperative to solving the ever-interconnected challenges SIDS face. Through the SIDS bulletin, we endeavor to bring forth stories from the ground. In this issue, you will read stories about the tuna fisheries of the Pacific, an expedition fighting organized crime in the fisheries sector across the oceans, the role of vulnerable communities in shaping adaptation policies, the benefits of aquaculture for island communities and step in the shoes of a SIDS delegation negotiator during climate summits.

Image: UNDP Antigua & Barbuda


Keywords:  Rising Up For SIDS, oceans, biodiversity, marine protected areas, SDGs, green recovery, coral reefs, blue bond, plastic pollution, digital currency, creative industries, orange economy, sustainable development, machine learning, gender equality, inclusive, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, water solutions, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy
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Country Corner
Image: FFA Media/FFA's TunaPacific

Delivering economic benefits from the world's largest tuna fishery to Pacific Small Island Developing States

The fisheries sector plays an important role in the economic development, food security, employment, and livelihoods globally. In SIDS, its average share in GDP is about 3 per cent, however, it significantly improves livelihoods and generates opportunities in goods and services provision. For Pacific SIDS, the contribution of fisheries to good exports can be as high as 80 per cent in Kiribati and 90 per cent in the Federated States of Micronesia. In fact, Pacific SIDS manage the Western and Central Pacific fishery, providing 60% of the world’s tuna. However, Pacific islanders don’t directly receive all the economic benefits emanating from these fisheries as many fishing fleets are owned by corporations and non-Pacific nations.
A recent article published in the Global Environment Facility’s International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network (GEF IW:Learn), illustrates how 20 years of funding by the GEF, namely through the latest oceanic fisheries management project (OFMP2) implemented by UNDP and executed by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), is  ensuring the conservation of this transboundary fishery and increasing its sustainable benefits. Namely, the article reports that the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is now the only ocean where all four major stocks of tuna are harvested at a biologically sustainable levels. By empowering Pacific SIDS to negotiate and make better economic decisions, access fees from foreign fishing vessels have risen from US $420 million in 2015 to US $550 million in 2019 and direct employment has risen from 18,134 to 23,861 over the same time. In addition, the economic benefits from domestic tuna harvest and processing activities, including from employment and sale of goods and services, rose from US $736 million in 2015 to US $896 million in 2019. The OFMP2 project result demonstrate how building capacity and having access to the right data and information can allow SIDS to ensure the conservation of their resources while deriving increased social and economic benefits from their fisheries, in line with a sustainable Blue Economy concept.

Image: Richard Sibley

The Blue Resilience project, UNDP’s capacity-building initiative against organized crime in the fisheries sector, announced its support to the One Ocean Expedition. This one-boat expedition left from Norway last August and will circumnavigate the globe until April 2023. Along the way, its 36 stops will take it to around a dozen SIDS, where the crew of the expedition will organize high-level meetings and public events to “share knowledge about the crucial role of the ocean for a sustainable development in a global perspective”. The expedition, whose goal aligns with the SDGs and UNDP’s SIDS offer, is also part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). It is a great opportunity to promote the blue economy in SIDS and all over world, as well as the idea that there is no wealthy ocean without a healthy ocean. A key UNDP-supported international instrument to protect life below water is the Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry, which has the support of more than a quarter of the world’s coastal states. Last October, 12 Caribbean SIDS have signed the Declaration, thanks to which 21 out of 38 UN member SIDS are now signatories. This commitment exemplifies SIDS’ eagerness to protect their marine ecosystems and benefit from their ocean resources in a sustainable way.

Image: Ted Mamu/ UNDP Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea's people continue to protect the biodiversity of its tropical rainforests

Recognising the environmental, economic, and cultural significance of tropical forests, Papua New Guinea was one of the first countries to take the global lead in seeking to combat climate change by proposing protection measures leading to the establishment of the UN mechanism Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). At the request of Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, REDD+ was first discussed in 2005 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP11. Unfortunately, last year the Global Biodiversity Outlook report from the Convention on Biological Diversity found that globally not a single Aichi Biodiversity Target for the decade had been met in full. In Papua New Guinea, deforestation is continuing at an estimated rate of 1.4% of tropical forest being lost annually, mainly a result of illegal logging with one of the highest timber export rates (70-90%) in the world.

In Papua New Guinea, protected areas have been expanding in recent years, but with increased regions under protection comes increased challenges for effective management. This needs to be accompanied with awareness initiatives on how to sustainably manage this resource. To this end, Papua New Guinea has developed a Protected Areas Policy Implementation Plan 2018-2028 based on five pillars: protected areas: governance and management, sustainable livelihoods for communities, effective and adaptive biodiversity management, managing the protected Area Network, and sustainable and equitable financing for Protected Areas. One island province of Papua New Guinea, West New Britain, is leading the way through an initiative of local community-based organisations responding to biodiversity loss from deforestation at Lake Umboli, a traditional and customary icon to the people of Morokea. An initiative of the Pa’Ubol Koverng Conservation Alliance based in Morokea Village, the Lake Umboli Biodiversity Conservation Project is working on measures to address threats to local biodiversity in partnership with a local NGO focused on local capacity-building for forest management. This initiative has led to the establishment of locally-managed monitoring systems and conservation measures following a rapid assessment of regions of local biodiversity. Learn more about Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ strategy and forest monitoring system.

Image: Singiaki and his wife/ UNDP Fiji

Disability and climate change: a story of hope from Tuvalu

From Tuvalu, we bring you a story of hope, where a joint project between the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and UNDP is addressing climate-related security challenges through an inclusive consultative process. The project gives voice to people like Singiaki Taulamati, a 64-year old carpenter who lost his right leg due to deteriorating health and saw his life change completely. However, Sinkiagi’s disability is not the only factor that makes his life challenging. His house is situated in the coastal area of Tuvalu, the fourth-smallest country in the world with an average height of less than two meters above sea level. Singiaki and many Tuvaluans homes and livelihoods are threatened by the eroding coastlines and the more frequently occurring extreme weather events. More and more islands and islets are disappearing at an alarming rate, pushing their inhabitants to migrate.However, many countries’ migration regulations may be discriminatory to vulnerable peoples and particularly to people with disabilities. It is important to implement an inclusive approach to building resilience in threatened island communities, to ensure the actions are concrete, pragmatic, and effective at the community-level. Read more about this initiative on UNDP Fiji’s website.

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In the News
Image:Alastair Grant/AP/Shutterstock

Negotiating for survival as a small island developing state at COP26 

International climate negotiations can often seem like an opaque world to those outside the conference halls, seeing only the televised high-profile segments, where heads of states and governments make speeches and sign pledges. However, there is an entire anthill of negotiators and experts, hailing from countries across the globe, that spent the better part of two weeks taking part in exhausting long and complicated litigations in the case of COP26 climate summit. These negotiations are particularly important and taxing on delegations of small island developing states, for whom the talks are a matter of life and death, as they stand at the frontlines of the impacts of climate change. A fascinating article by the New Scientist takes a dive into their world and brings a new perspective into what it is like to negotiate for survival.

Image: India-UN Development Partnership Fund

  Global South Solidarity: India-UN Fund supports digital transformation and climate action in SIDS

Last month, the India-UN Development Partnership Fund reasserted its support to the Samoa Knowledge Society Initiative, which aims at driving digital transformation in the country, during a high-level dialogue on the public and the media’s access to information from public institutions. This is but one of the many examples of the fund’s support to SIDS. Since it was established in 2017, this UNOSSC-managed fund has supported 59 projects in 48 countries, including many SIDS, through $47.8 million in contributions from a $150 million multi-year pledge by the Government of India. For instance, the fund donated $1 million to 7 Pacific SIDS to establish a joint climate early warning system, in order to prevent ground water salinity and to ensure sustainable supply of drinking water. The project was implemented with the assistance of the meteorological departments of the 7 countries and of the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. This fund exemplifies India’s key role in South-South cooperation, which was acclaimed by UN Secretary General António Guterres as “a welcome contribution that is championing greater prosperity and opportunity for all”. In issue n°50 of the SIDS Bulletin, we wrote on India’s support for the launch of the “Tax Inspectors Without Borders” initiative in the Seychelles, which will increase revenue for the island nation. In South-South cooperation, SIDS are also providers of innovative development solutions. For instance, as featured in our previous Bulletin, a Barbadian firm played a key role in the development of Nigeria’s central bank digital currency, the eNaira. It is Africa’s first fully launched government sponsored digital currency, and is expected to increase Nigeria’s GDP by $29 billion over the next 10 years.

Image: CoinDesk

SIDS are once again acting as pioneers in the brave new world of technology and the new frontier of the Metaverse. Barbados is set to become the first sovereign nation to establish an embassy in the metaverse. As a small country, Barbados has only 18 embassies around the world and it is not feasible to maintain global diplomatic relations with all 193 governments. By setting up embassies in the metaverse, this is a lower cost, more efficient infrastructure that aims to position the country in creating new allies, new relationships and offering digitized consular services and cultural diplomacy around the world. While the new embassy, set to open in January 2022 will set a number of unique precedents, it is so far deemed to be compliant with international law as well as the Vienna Convention.

Image: Roshni Rodhia/TNC

According to the FAO, the aquaculture sector, that currently employs 20.5 million people around the world, has produced 114.5 million tonnes of seafood with a total value of USD 263.6 billion in 2018. This sector has a huge potential to respond to our growing food demands. However, when best practices are not followed, aquaculture can have negative effects on both people and the environment, such as diminished water quality, genetic pollution, and creating conflicts within coastal communities. Inversely, aquaculture can also be one of the most environmentally efficient ways of producing animal protein when done sustainably.
A recent report produced by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) highlights that in some cases, aquaculture can even provide direct benefits to the environment and is then called restorative aquaculture. The two main groups of species with potential for this kind of aquaculture are bivalves and seaweed that provide environmental benefits including nutrient removal, habitat provision, carbon sequestration, and coastal protection. The report also provides implementation principles and policy considerations. For SIDS, where food security, ocean restoration and employment are common priorities, restorative aquaculture could be an important sector to consider when developing Blue Economy frameworks. Especially for many Caribbean SIDS that have been identified among the regions with the highest potential for restorative shellfish aquaculture.

Image: © Pete Oxford/iLCP

A new study by Conservation International has mapped these dense stores of carbon globally to show that half of Earth’s irrecoverable carbon is concentrated on only 3.3% of land, including mangroves, peatlands, and old-growth forests. These regions are also often some of the most biodiverse globally, so these targeted conservation efforts would also conserve critical habitats for thousands of species. Mangroves, seagrasses, and tidal wetlands were found to hold 4.8 Gigatonnes of irrecoverable carbon globally, with mangroves having the highest concentrations in the world with an average of 218 tonnes per hectare. Thriving mangroves are critical to sustainable economies of many of the world’s most vulnerable coastal communities, providing a biodiverse region that cleans up waterways, acts as a nursery for the world’s seafood supply, provides economic opportunities, and provides natural protection from the increasing burden of storm surges and flooding.  Since 11% of the world’s mangroves can be found in SIDS, there is a pressing need to support conservation in these coastal regions. Although globally the rate of mangrove loss has slowed, the rate of mangrove loss in SIDS is now increasing significantly fueled by a combination of factors, including anthropogenic drivers and climate change. The research proposes several key ways to keep irrecoverable carbon from being released, including to support indigenous communities who manage more than a third of Earth’s irrecoverable carbon, expand the area of irrecoverable-carbon lands under conservation, reverse threatening climate policies, prioritize areas with high concentrations of irrecoverable carbon, and design comprehensive and collaborative land use planning practices that promote sustainable development and climate change resilience.

The Global Fund for Coral Reefs Open Call for Applications for Advisory Board Members has been extended to 13 December 2021

The GFCR is now inviting qualified individuals to submit an application for one of the following Advisory Board membership roles: 

  • Scientists: Three (3) 3-year rotational seats will be held by scientists with extensive expertise in coral reef science (ecology, resilience, restoration), marine protected area management and socio-economic dynamics. 
  • National Government & Public Institutional Representatives: Three (3) 3-year rotational seats will be occupied by representatives from National Governments of GFCR priority geographies as identified in the GFCR’s Investment Plan longlist of countries.  
  • Blue Economy Experts: Three (3) 3-year rotational seats will be held by blue economy experts with strong knowledge and practice in innovation and blended finance, and socio-economic issues in coral reef countries.  
More information on the Advisory Board roles, submission process and application portal can be found here.

Video: Joint Fiji Programme: Investing in Coral Reefs and the Blue Economy

Launched in early 2021, the GFCR's joint programme in Fiji leverages philanthropic and development finance to mobilize commercial investments, promote financial sustainability of coral reef conservation and accelerate reef-positive livelihoods.The programme aims to leverage US$50M in investment capital by 2030. This joint programme, co-financed by the UN Joint SDG Fund, is a collaboration with partners that include UN agencies (UNDP, UNCDF, UNEP), the WWF-Pacific, Matanataki, Blue Finance, Fijian local actors and the Government of Fiji. Creative direction by Malachy Geraghty, videography and editing by Jason Chute/Lumen Films, produced by Matanataki

Pacific Islands Ocean Acidification Masters Student Fellowship


The goals of this fellowship are to support early-career scientists who will provide the Pacific Islands region with ocean acidification research expertise, and provide Pacific Island countries and communities with additional knowledge, information, and resources, which can be used to build greater resilience against acidification and its impacts. Subject to the availability of funding, OAP anticipates up to $300,000 USD total will be available to support approximately 3-6 graduate fellows, with each fellow funded at the approximate level of $20,000 - $32,000 USD per year for 2 years. Each award is intended to fund the fellow’s tuition, stipend, research budget, and/or other costs associated with completing a 2-year Masters degree program.

Empowering the Private Sector to Diversify Seychelles’ Economy - Discussion Paper

This paper draws on extensive national level consultations and data analysis to stimulate debate on strategies for repositioning the private sector to effectively contribute to the country’s economic diversification. It highlights the structure of the Seychelles’ economy with emphasis on the place of the private sector, assesses the trends of economic diversification, articulates the efficacy of the legal policy and institutional environment in facilitating private sector engagement, and proposes a mix of reforms to empower the private sector.

COVID 19 Island Insights Series Final Report

This Island Insights project emerged as a result of a partnership between the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Environmental Law and Governance in Scotland and the Institute of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. It was later expanded to incorporate Island Innovation, a global media platform dedicated to sharing innovative projects and best practices. The objective of the project was to bring together critical assessments of how specific islands around the world have performed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the extent to which their recovery plans may promote resilience and sustainability in the long term.

Ocean Economy: The Next Wave of Sustainable Innovation

Roughly 21–37% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to our current food system, which includes conventional agriculture and land use according to the latest IPCC report. With the global population rising and more mouths to feed, now is the time to reconsider how we can tap into our global resources to build a more sustainable food system. This infographic from Billy Goat Brands (CSE: GOAT) (“GOAT”) explores how the ocean economy—also referred to as the blue economy—plays a vital role in our fight against climate change and other environmental challenges facing the world today.

Study Pinpoints the Places Humanity Must Protect – Or Face Climate Doom

New research out today from Conservation International maps the places on Earth that humanity must protect to avoid a climate catastrophe. These ecosystems contain what researchers call “irrecoverable carbon,” dense stores of carbon that, if released due to human activity, could not be recovered in time for the world to prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change.   

Video: E€ofish Mauritius

21 November was World Fisheries Day. On this occasion, the UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles country office is proud to share a video on the EU-funded E€ofish "Mauritius" project which aims at supporting the economic empowerment of the artisanal fishing community of the Republic of Mauritius. The video provides an overview of the fisheries sector in Mauritius and delves into the challenges of artisanal fishers before presenting the approach and objectives of the E€ofish "Mauritius" project which is implemented in the Republic of Mauritius by the UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, and the Rodrigues Regional Assembly.

Mapping the global funding landscape for coral reef restoration

ICRI’s Mapping Global Funding Landscape for Coral Reef Restoration report recently found that US$258 million has been invested in coral reef restoration efforts across 56 countries in the last decade. Key recommendations to guide future investments in coral reef restoration include increasing 1) the amount and availability of dedicated funding for coral reef restoration, 2) research into sustainable funding for coral reef, and 3) communication on the realities of coral reef restoration regarding goals and timelines.

Linking sovereign debt to climate and nature outcomes

As countries grapple with the triple crisis of debt, climate change and nature loss, compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple innovative solutions in sustainable finance are beginning to gain traction. These innovations towards an inclusive green recovery offer substantial benefits for developing countries looking to increase their fiscal space, adapt to climate change, reduce their emissions and protect their natural environment. This guide presents these innovations in an actionable plan that links sovereign debt to climate and nature outcomes. Seven practical steps outline ways for governments to complete a debt transaction linked to their sustainability goals for climate and nature. Aimed primarily at debt managers and environmental decision makers, the guide also serves as an operational pathway for creditors, international institutions and nongovernmental organisations to work together, using these emerging financing innovations to improve debt sustainability and increase climate and nature investment in the most climate-vulnerable and biodiversity-rich countries.

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

International Conference on Sustainable Ocean Economy And Climate Change Adaptation

Viet Nam and Norway will co-chair an International Conference on Sustainable Ocean Economy and Climate Change Adaptation “Solutions for a Climate Resilient Blue Economy” with the technical support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The conference will bring together distinguished political leaders and government policy- and decision-makers from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), members of the Vulnerable Country Forum (CVF), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member States, and some developed countries, to:

  • Discuss key opportunities to promote sustainable use of ocean resources and key challenges posed climate change and environmental pollution.
  • Identify opportunities to accelerate actions to protect ocean ecosystems for economic development and enhance the resilience of vulnerable countries and communities.
  • Share experiences, best practices and research results to enhance shared knowledge of successful sustainable ocean economy and climate change adaptation strategies and actions.
  • Encourage networking for South-South and North-South collaboration, foster cooperation and develop synergies between initiatives.

When: 13 - 14 December 2021

NDC Partnership's 5th Annual Members Forum

The NDC Partnership is open to countries and international institutions that are committed to ambitious implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. By joining the NDC Partnership, members gain access to a global network of knowledge and resources to support their work in climate action. Benefits include, but are not limited to acquiring access to a large network of partners that can deliver a flexible array of services geared towards implementation of NDCs — through (a) targeted technical assistance and capacity building; (b) knowledge products to fill information gaps; and (c) enhanced financial support; opportunities for knowledge sharing and learning; and increasing access to information and building a peer community around countries implementing their NDCs.

When: 2 December 2021

Jobs for Rural Youth: The Role of Local Food Economies

The study, co-financed by the EU, looks in-depth at the current employment situation of youth in the food economy in 5 sub-Saharan African countries (Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) and 2 Southeast Asian countries (Thailand and Viet Nam) and makes an employment forecast for 2030 of the different segments within the food economy. The study reviews local food production and distribution models commonly found in more advanced economies, which try to reconcile economic, social and environmental objectives. The event will be an opportunity to share the key findings from this study and discuss policy implications.


Willem Olthof, Deputy Head of Unit, Sustainable Agri-Food Systems and Fisheries, INTPA F3
Alexandre Kolev, Head of Social Cohesion Unit, OECD Development Centre
Ji-Yeun Rim, Senior Policy Analyst, Social Cohesion Unit, OECD Development Centre

When: 2 December 2021

World Ocean Summit Asia-Pacific

The regionally-focused World Ocean Summit Asia-Pacific agenda will provide the platform for nuanced conversation and tailored discussion to catalyse the blue economy. The summit will convene 100 speakers and 2000 participants virtually over five days. Dedicated tracks on shipping, marine renewable energy, plastics, aquaculture, and fishing will provide insight focused on the Asia-Pacific. Plenary sessions will centre on pressing concerns for the ocean and cities and seek solutions for climate change mitigation and the dangerous decline of biodiversity in the region. A full track dedicated to finance will bring together executives from across the investment community.  Speakers will share their experience of innovative blue-finance mechanisms to maximise the direction of mainstream finance towards the sustainable blue economy. 

When: December 6–10 2021

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