Issue 58 | 03 June 2022
Despite the increasing interest in the Blue Economy, the use of the sea for social and economic benefit is not new. Globally, the oceans support 350 million jobs and over 3.3 billion people depend on fish for 1/5th of their protein intake. For island nations in particular, the oceans represent a way of life and provide a broad range of essential goods and services that support economic well-being and human health. What is new with the concept of blue economy is the growing appreciation of the critical role that ocean resources play in sustainable economic growth - and therefore, a greater appreciation of the need to better manage, restore and protect the resources that underpin that growth. In fact, the current decline in ocean health is eroding the economic and social benefits as well as the support that oceans can provide in addressing the multiple challenges in SIDS.

It is important to recognize that the opportunities offered by the Blue Economy cannot be fully realized unless we restore and protect ocean ecosystems. While the Global Ocean Alliance is encouraging other countries to support the 30 by 30 marine protection target at the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), many SIDS have led the way and surpassed this objective. The latest example is that of Niue, that has just committed 100% of the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), an area roughly the size of Norway, to marine conservation under the “Niue Nukutuluea Multiple-use Marine Park” initiative. The park will manage resource use within all of EEZ while contributing to the global environment, climate action and key sustainable development goals. The decision consolidates 6 years of scientific assessment, community consultation, and cost-benefit analysis and is inspired by over 1000 years of traditional knowledge.

This week, and to celebrate Niue’s announcement, the SIDS bulletin focuses on habitat and biodiversity conservation, and shows how Nature-based Solutions can be scaled up for adaptation, how biodiversity can revitalize island’s economies post-COVID, and how data plays a critical role in the facilitation of conservation efforts in remote locations. 

Image: UNDP / Vlad Sokhin


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Keywords:   Rising Up For SIDS, green recovery, ocean equity, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, blue finance, 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 Papua New Guinea
Information is power, and data-driven tools are helping to reach some of the most remote places on earth to track illegal activities and support environmental conservation. Papua New Guinea is globally significant in its natural and cultural richness, housing up to 5% of the world’s plant and animal species, the highest language diversity in the world (more than 800 languages), and vast areas of natural forest. This unique environment, rich in natural resources, is owned almost entirely by customary landowners. Over 80% of people live in rural villages and produce much of their own food. This unique environment poses immense challenges for natural resource management, with increasing pressures from a growing population, changing climate and extractive industries. Most of the 58 protected areas in the country are owned and managed by the customary landowners, beyond the reach of government oversight.

To address these challenges UNDP has launched a new Natural Resource Management Hub to offer online tools for collecting, sharing and managing environmental datasets from local, national and global sources. The objective is to empower communities, in cooperation with relevant government agencies and CSO to manage protected areas to ensure there is balance in land use and protection of recourse from over-exploitation. The Hub includes open-source, web-based platforms for sharing and using geographic data to allow PNG’s academics, policymakers, civil society organisations and communities to access, share, collect and analyze the region’s environmental data for better policy- and decision-making. As part of the Hub, an innovative mobile app is designed specifically to overcome many of the geographical, infrastructure and technological challenges that prevent effective tracking and access to financial, logistical, and technical help for managing and safeguarding their Protected Areas. 

Image: Beth Watson / Ocean Image Bank

In the western Pacific Ocean there is a marine epicentre of biodiversity like nowhere else in the world called the Coral Triangle, which includes waters of Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands. With over 600 specials of reef-building corals and more than 2000 species of reef fish, as well as a large population of commercially important tuna, the Coral Triangle is essential to this region for food, income, and storm protection. At the southern edge of this triangle sits the reefs of Timor-Leste, which have been found to show great resilience to the effects of bleaching, with biodiversity levels far exceeding the predictions based on models using satellite data of surface temperature. Because of ocean dynamics, a climate refugium has been developing in this region with many endangered, threatened, and protected marine megafauna. This provides an urgent need to continue conservation efforts especially to mitigate anthropogenic impacts such as sedimentation and fishing, building on the efforts to revive traditional knowledge systems such as Tara Bandu, their system of customs that developed methods for protection of the ocean and the most sacred natural places and species. As Timor-Leste, one of the youngest countries in the world, continues to build conservation policies, reintegrate traditional knowledge systems, and build their ecotourism industry, they will continue to emerge as a leader in ocean conservation. 

Image: Boris Kasimov
The marine environment is essential for SIDS sustainable development, contributing to food security and livelihoods, as well as providing nature-based solutions in forming resilience against climate change. An example of the importance of the marine environment is the rich biodiversity it contains, which is essential in for example revitalizing the small island developing state, Saint Lucia’s economy, from the pandemic. The sustainable use of natural resources supports human and societal needs. With this, Saint Lucia recently ratified the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources, taking the country another step forward to their climate action. However, the marine environment faces increasing pressures and a new set of emerging issues. One key strategy for SIDS to manage and conserve their marine environment is the development of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which will require adequate and long-term financing. A series of National Conservation Trust Funds are being established through the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund in the Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. Through the Sustainable Marine Finance Project, the German Development Cooperation and the MPAConnect network are collaborating to promote investment in Caribbean marine conservation through capacity building for the mobilization of resources from conservation trust funds. 
In the News
Image: TIME Magazine

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has been chosen by TIME Magazine as one of The Most Influential People of 2022. Mottley’s fierce leadership and determined advocacy for the Caribbean at COP 26 made her far more than a champion to the region, as it has enhanced her place in the global consciousness as a forward-thinking leader and change maker. 

Mottley has been lauded for her efforts in the fights against climate change and stewardship of the environment. As the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mottley usually referred to climate change as “climate crisis”. As most of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are in the frontline of climate change impacts, the Caribbean has been facing the severe effects of global warming in the form of destructive hurricanes, coastal erosion and coral bleaching, which are getting worse from year to year. 

Image: Mike McCoy

Structural development challenges like heavy debt burdens, overreliance of the economy on few sectors, and dependency on imported fossil fuels, hinder the ability of SIDS to realize their full Blue Economy ambitions. And while the blue economy transformation requires the provision of certain public services, such as data collection, policy formulation, regulatory activities, and maritime security — all of which come with associated financial costs, the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the vulnerabilities listed above. A recent opinion piece written by a fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London highlights the need for SIDS to unlock capital to safeguard their blue economy through innovative financing mechanisms. The  debt-for-nature swaps and parametric insurance for coral reef restoration are examples of blue finance instruments that could help SIDS build climate resilience, unlock large-scale investments in natural assets, and safeguard their blue economy.

Image: Water Adaptation Community
As SIDS face a pressing need to reduce the risk and adapt to the current and future climate impacts that are essential for their survival, they must seize the opportunity to implement nature-based solutions (NBS) for their climate adaptation. Especially because the SIDS communities are directly dependent on their natural resources for their blue economy and therefore, must leverage NBS for their climate action. NBS are approaches that reverse ecosystem degradation and address societal challenges while at the same time benefiting human well-being and biodiversity. An example of NBS for SIDS are the restoration and preservation of their forests, which could protect them against short-term hazards, such as flooding, and against long-term threats, such as desertification. Another important NBS that SIDS can scale up are the restoration of their mangrove forests that can serve as physical buffers from storm surges and strong winds, protecting coastal lives and property.

Aside from the benefits of NBS for providing climate resilience in SIDS, they are also 2 to 5 times more cost-effective than business-as-usual interventions, like “gray” infrastructure and result in greater savings, social benefits and avoided losses. As part of SIDS’ climate action, there is a need for a political momentum to move from intentions to actions, and end forest loss and land degradation by 2030, referenced in their Nationally Determined Contribution. By taking action now, SIDS can realize the enormous potential of NBS for adaptation.  

Image: World Ocean Initiative - The Economist

As global economies and populations grow, human activity is continuously harming the ocean and causing it to rise, warm, and be more acidic. Also, the increased growth in demand has been accompanied by trajectories of inequality and degradation in access to benefits from the ocean.

The Ocean 100 study has urged scientists to call on global ocean leaders and businesses to collaborate and act collectively and immediately for ocean health.  The Ocean 100 Dialogues initiative is assembling leaders and stakeholders across the blue economy to come up with a science-business platform in order to protect the ocean and foster voluntary projects that would assist in solving the major challenges hindering an equitable and sustainable blue economy.

Moreover, leaders and partners are exploring potential cross-industry commitments and action areas to protect biodiversity through enhanced and synchronized data platform for strong area-based management measures.

Image: James Morgan/Panos

In light of the accelerating impacts of climate change and its devastating effects on our environment and planet, the High Level Panel (HLP) for a Sustainable Ocean Economy issues a report that provides a timely pivot from ‘problem’ to a significant missing piece of the ‘solution’. Climate mitigation policy has concentrated intensively on land-based mitigation activities. The HLP report offers an exclusive comprehensive, integrated assessment of the mitigation potential of a suite of ocean-based activities: renewable energy, transport, food production, and ecosystems, and the potential future contribution from carbon storage if current concerns can be resolved.  Each of these five areas is assessed for its potential to close the emissions gap in 2030 and 2050 relative to a 1.5°C degree and 2°C degree pathway. Moreover, each activity is also evaluated for its broader benefits to society (beyond mitigation). Finally, the report highlights the enabling policy measures and research required for success. 

Further Resources

A new framework for rapidly assessing national adaptation policies: an application to small island developing states in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans

National-level adaptation policies are especially important in SIDS because of their disproportionate vulnerability. This paper develops an Adaptation Policy Assessment Framework that facilitates a rapid qualitative assessment of countries’ national adaptation policies. It applies the framework to seven representative policies across six of the nine SIDS in the AIMS region—Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Maldives, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles and Singapore. It finds that countries are mostly successful in identifying climate and climate-related vulnerabilities and linking associated risks to other national development priorities such as poverty reduction. 

Financial independence of women – the impact of social factors on women empowerment in SIDS

This study aims to understand and analyse the financial independence of women in SIDS, with a focus on Mauritius. Factors such as employer choice, domestic violence, sociological factors, lack of opportunities and empowerment and the legal framework have been identified as potential influencers of the financial independence of women. A total of 12 hypotheses were proposed, 2 of which were confirmed in the findings. The sociological factors, lack of opportunities, domestic violence and employer choice appeared not to have a significant influence on the financial independence of women. The legal system had a significant influence on the financial independence of women.

Small Island Developing States in a post-pandemic world: Challenges and opportunities for climate action 

To identify pathways to climate resilience, this paper explores how SIDS have responded to COVID-19 and considers the potential for coping mechanisms enacted for the pandemic to support long-term climate resilience. SIDS ‘responses to the pandemic highlight new directions, like tourist schemes that capitalize on the rise of remote working in Barbados and Mauritius, as well as reliance on proven coping mechanisms, like bartering in Fiji. Each proposed climate action measure has important climate resilience and equity dimensions that must be unpacked if their potential to contribute to more sustainable island futures is to be realized. Solutions emerge through innovation and experiment and knowledge-sharing across the wider SIDS community.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) COVID-19 post-pandemic tourism recovery: A system dynamics approach

Possible recovery strategies in SIDS are tested in this paper through exploring the concept of risk perception as an important factor to influence the behaviour intention under the framework of theory of planned behaviour (TPB). A behavioural simulation is built to help evaluate tourism policies, with Maldives used as the case study. Four strategies are tested in the model: social distancing, tax reduction strategy, travel bubble strategy and joint strategy. The results show that the most effective way to change tourist behavioural intentions is the travel bubble strategy, and that the reduction in tourism arrivals may bring opportunities for local ecosystem recovery.

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

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.

UNDP Digital X -CO Tech Needs Assessment Deadline Extended 

Digital X is a Partnerships for Scale Programme designed to connect UNDP and Governments with proven, ready-to-scale solutions to meet urgent digital needs. Until June 8 UNDP Country Offices can apply to share information about their digital needs and related plans and programmes, which will be used  to help in matching the needs from the Country Offices/Government level with the vetted digital solutions featured in the Digital X Solutions Catalogue, for up to $100,000 per solution. 

When: Apply by 08 June 2022

14th International Economic Forum on Latin American and the Caribbean

The 14th edition of the International Economic Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean will bring together civil society, leaders of the public and private sectors, and high-level representatives of international organizations to explore the role of the region in shaping a new global order.
The Forum is one of the most prominent events in Europe devoted to Latin America. The 2022 edition will take place in the framework of the Semaine de l’Amérique Latine et des Caraïbes. 

When: 08 June 2022

Virtual Launch of GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022

This hour-long session will present the latest insights on the mobile gender gap across low- and middle-income countries, presented by the lead author of the report, with responses and discussion from UN Women, ITU and Jio who will share their reactions to the findings and speak about what can be done to accelerate digital inclusion for women. After years of progress towards women’s equal digital inclusion, we are now seeing a slowdown and, in some cases, a reversal. Significant and coordinated efforts are urgently needed to ensure that women do not continue to be disproportionately impacted by the ongoing pandemic and left behind in an increasingly digitised society.

When: 15 June at 8:00 - 9:00 AM EST


The Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Programme (N-POC) is now open for applications for admission into the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme at the University of the South Pacific (USP) for the academic year 2022 under the bi-institutional PhD degree agreement between USP and the University of Bergen (UiB), Norway. The scholarship at USP is administered at the USP Research Office. Qualified candidates are invited to submit their applications by 15 July 2022.

When: Apply by 15 July 2022

The Ultimate Fintech Experience 

Barbados will play host to Fintech Islands – the most promising global event in the fintech sector. Fintech Islands will be a place where ideas are born, and serendipitous encounters turn into industry-changing partnerships. The Fintech Experience connects the financial services and technology ecosystem through discussions, collaboration, networking, and deal-making.

When: 05-07 October 2022

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