Issue 59 | 23 June 2022

As the international community just welcomed the long-awaited WTO agreement to curb harmful fisheries subsidies, next week marks the kick-off of the United Nations 2022 Ocean Conference, entitled ‘’Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions”. This year’s Ocean Conference is co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal and will take place from 27 June to 1 July, 2022. 

The conference aims to mobilize global action through scientifically based innovative solutions to lead the way to a new global ocean action. It comes at a pivotal time for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as the world is seeking to address many of the critical problems and major challenges that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and which will require massive structural transformations and common shared solutions that are rooted in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The development of research capacity and the transfer of marine technology is particularly important to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of SIDS and this objective is specifically recognized in target 14.1 of the SDGs. However, SIDS often suffer from a narrow fiscal space, and over-reliance on few economic sectors. And while most of them are not eligible for concessional financing, one of the challenges to overcome for SIDS would be unlocking additional investments in the SDG14, as it remains the least funded of all 17 SDGs. This is in line with the newly launched UNDP Ocean Promise - a vision and framework to guide UNDP’s work as the oceans face a multi-dimensional crisis driven by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, invasive species and climate change.

In this bulletin, and in line with the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, we focus on the ocean and how SIDS are working on adopting innovative solutions to protect the marine environment, ocean’s health, and sustainability of fisheries, while shedding light on the importance of ocean finance and sustainable ocean-based investments that tackle climate change and grow diversified economies.



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Keywords:   Rising Up For SIDS, 2022 UN Ocean Conference, green recovery, ocean equity, ocean financing, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, blue finance, marine protected areas, SDGs, data infrastructure, disaster recovery, gender equality, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, water solutions, blue bonds, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy
Despite the disproportionate vulnerabilities they face, SIDS are displaying courageous global leadership and pioneering change. UNDP's Offer “Rising Up for SIDS” responds to the most pressing needs of small island states, supporting them in turning challenges into opportunities for prosperous and transformative recovery. UNDP is enhancing support and investment in the interconnected pillars of climate action, blue economy and digital transformation with sustainable development finance as a crosscutting accelerator. By amplifying ambitions, leveraging innovative development solutions, and fostering genuine and durable partnerships, UNDP is supporting SIDS in safeguarding progress on the SAMOA Pathway, the 2030 Agenda and building forward better, bluer and greener. Join us, in Rising Up For SIDS.
Country Corner
Image: Suliane Favennec
The geographic challenge of remoteness shapes many industries in SIDS to develop their own unique solutions. As electrification and internet in SIDS have connected the islands to digital commerce, new services for access and delivery to goods are needed to accommodate the remote and archipelagic geographies which defy the massive economies of scale demanded by large ecommerce companies. This lacuna allows new hyperlocal courier businesses to develop, uniquely positioned to close the gaps to reach distant locations. The evolution of these new ecosystems of courier business are buoyed by the low barrier to entry – only requiring a vehicle and an internet connection. In French Polynesia in 2022 close to 40 courier services have arisen. These couriers can customize their services to local needs and geographies, and coordinate over digital platforms like Facebook or WhatsApp thanks to the acceleration in digital transformation. 

The supply chain to SIDS faced significant challenges in the face of Covid-19, in which maritime shipping proved its resilience over flights – as one courier in French Polynesia said, “If we didn’t have these boats here, the people would die of hunger. At that time [2020], we saw that the planes — they might stop, but the boats never will.” These cargo ships provide Pacific islanders with essentials including food, petrol, and building materials. According to UNCTAD’s latest Review of Maritime Transport, increased maritime transport cost due to the global supply chain challenges have an impact on prices in SIDS five times higher than the global average, with an estimated 7.5 percentage points additional consumer price inflation. UNCTAD’s latest Trade and Development Report calls for a transformative approach to drive growth and job creation along more resilient and greener value chains. These hyperlocal services led by SIDS help to develop this approach by advancing local economies, designing systems specifically to account for SIDS’ unique challenges, and further help to accelerate digital transformation by providing demand and digital infrastructure.

Image: Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica

Despite its zero contribution, the small island country of the Caribbean region - Dominica, is at the forefront of the war against climate change. In light of its significant effort to lower its carbon footprint and promote sustainability, Dominica has been taking effective steps towards achieving the goal of becoming the first climate-resilient country in the world. The island country is constructing a geothermal power plant in the Roseau Valley. The project aims to power over 23,000 homes, representing 90 percent of the population. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are contributing to the funding of this project. 

The Geothermal power plant project is expected to be complete by 2023. The project will benefit not only Dominica but also the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique by providing electricity to the islands, which will enhance foreign exchange. Dominica has been working hard to accelerate the developments and construction of the project over the last year, as the construction of two wells has already commenced. This project will be a great step in Dominica’s development as it will not only provide the island country with renewable sources, but it will also reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, as well as provide employment opportunities to the locals. 

Image: Shakil Konde
The Caribbean has been plagued for more than a decade by rotting seaweed that has washed up shores of the Caribbean region, triggering human health concerns and negatively affecting the touristic sector, economy and environment. A new research shows that seaweed can be turned into renewable electricity  and fertilizer. Given the harmful hydrogen sulfide gas emitted by the seaweed while it decomposes along with the frequency with which these  influxes have occurred since 2011, seaweed or the sargassum has ruined Caribbean economies that rely on fisheries and tourism for survival, since tourism accounts for almost 30-40 percent of the GDP of some of the small nations. The seaweed has triggered a state of emergency in the fisheries sector of many islands, as it results in blurred visibility, increased fishing net entanglement, boat damage, and decreased fish capture. Seaweed also negatively affects marine life as it leads to fish die-offs as a result of deoxygenation and toxins in water. It obstacles sea turtles and dolphins, too, fatally preventing them from surfacing for air. 

Building a sargassum-based biorefinery equipped with hydrothermal pre-treatment and anaerobic digestion technologies would provide several socio-economic and environmental benefits to Caribbean countries. Most obviously, a biorefinery would provide electricity to the national grid and produce a bio-fertiliser for national and international use. 

In the News
Image: USAID Digital Development
In recognition of the importance of transparency and sustainability in fishery management, SIDS are innovating in new technologies to improve oversight of fishing activity. Tuna fisheries, worth $40 billion per year at the final point of sale, are primarily managed by five regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) which cover 90% of all tuna. As SIDS rely centrally on the fishery sector, the sustainability of the global tuna population is pivotal to the resilience of their industry and food supply.

To build monitoring of sustainability in the tuna supply chain requires reliable data on fishing efforts and sustainable yield including on catch, bycatch, and compliance with regulations. Automated data systems serve to complement human observer coverage and expand oversight to fleets through electronic monitoring technologies based on cameras and digital systems for improving transparency and traceability. Partnership with the private sector is essential for the success of these programs since seafood companies and other market partners are also responsible for providing oversight to meet the growing consumer demand for sustainability in global fisheries. Automated data streams also must be produced with central consideration of the privacy and confidentiality of the crew and stakeholders involved.

Beyond data collection systems, a digital infrastructure is being scaled across SIDS to guarantee that this information can be effectively transmitted and stored in a structured form so that analytical methods can be effectively applied and shared amongst fishery stakeholders. To certify that the effectiveness of the investment in EM systems is maximized, a data standard must be developed across sectors so that collection, review, transmission, and storage can be parallelized and scaled across SIDS, especially considering that fishing vessels often operate within multiple RFMO areas. The integration of these data streams is being accelerated as SIDS share knowledge and innovations in a global community to rise up together to build sustainability and resilient fisheries.   


Thirty-three Small Island Developing States have taken important steps towards a cleaner environment, with the global launch of a half-billion dollar “ISLANDS” initiative, to help SIDS control and avoid the disposal of hazardous chemicals, waste, and marine litter into the ocean in a sustainable manner, and to partner with public sector to establish circular production systems. According to UN reports, 80 percent of mismanaged waste in SIDS ends up in the ocean, causing severe loss of biodiversity, intensifying climate change effects along with severe health impacts for the local people exposed to the pollution. 

This initiative aims to prevent the emission of 23,000 metric tons of toxic chemicals and more than 185,000 metric tons of marine litter by 2027. It will involve multiple stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and communities, and those from the tourism sector, shipping and recycling sectors, in order to facilitate treatment of waste. The private sector will also participate in the ISLANDS initiative at several levels, including through recycling trainings, accelerated access to global recycling markets, and funding for small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Image: Irwandi wancaleu / CC BY-SA
SIDS as large ocean states have four sustainable, ocean-based investment areas that play significant roles in addressing climate change while growing their economies. These key areas are: The conservation and restoration of mangrove habitats; scaling up of offshore wind production; decarbonizing international shipping; and increasing the production of sustainably sourced ocean-based proteins. The benefits also represent environmental, social and health benefits for local economies, communities, and households. Conserving and restoring mangroves in SIDS can increase biodiversity, fisheries productivity, carbon sequestration, tourism revenue, water regulation, avoid property damages caused by storm surges, and reduce coastal erosion. Scaling up offshore wind production paired with marine spatial planning policies mitigate damages caused by climate change and generate jobs and livelihoods to local communities. Transitioning international shipping to net-zero emissions by 2050 is critical to mitigating ocean acidification, which is important for protecting SIDS’ marine species, ecosystems and industries like fisheries and tourism. Increasing sustainable aquaculture and reforming fishing can achieve ocean-based protein food production which could replace a percentage of emissions-intensive, land-based protein sources, produce higher revenues for fishers and lower water use. All in all, ocean-based climate change mitigation options in SIDS can build long-term resilience against future shocks and meet SIDS’ SDGs.
Image: United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

The Pacific has always been identified as a region where the security impacts of climate change will be explicitly pronounced. Evidence such as the IPCC reports shows the Pacific region is one of the most exposed regions to devastating climate risks, the impacts of which have the potential to threaten social cohesion, political stability and peace and security. For low-lying atoll nations like Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, climate-related security risks pose greater, even existential risks.

Particularly affected are women and girls, who experience increased vulnerabilities including sexual violence after natural disasters, youth and people with disabilities. However, comprehensive assessments on how climate change impact community, national and regional security risks and how these risks differ among Pacific Island States have so far been lacking. 

To tackle these challenges, spearhead knowledge gathering and dissemination to help guide regional policy and decision-makers, and coordinate national, regional and international responses, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have embarked on the Climate Security in the Pacific project, funded by the UN Peace Building Fund. The project works closely with key regional and national partners, including the Governments of the three atoll countries mentioned above, the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Coalition of Low Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change (CANCC) and the Pacific Climate Security Network of Experts comprising regional agencies, international and regional academic and institutes.

Image: Power Info Today

The large ocean areas surrounding SIDS are one of the most powerful forces on the planet with great renewable energy potentials that could supply blue power all day, all year round. In order for SIDS to meet their emission reduction goals, they must take advantage of the ocean power and explore all renewable energy options. The four main types of ocean energy are tidal energy, wave energy, current energy, and ocean thermal energy, which could allow SIDS to achieve cleaner, and more consistent and independent energy.

Tidal energy (tidal steam, tidal lagoons, or barrages) is generated using turbines that release huge amounts of water brought in by the tides. The benefits of tidal energy are that the tides are predictable, which creates a reliable energy source; it is closer to the coast compared to other ocean energy sources, which makes it cheaper and easier to maintain by the island nations. Wave energy especially benefits SIDS as they have a relatively high percentage of coastline.

Oceans thermal energy or OTEC uses big heat reservoirs placed in the ocean. The temperature difference between the warm sea surface and the cold deep sea is used to produce vapor and afterwards consistent energy with relatively low environmental impact. The process within OTEC could even create desalinated water for drinking and agriculture. Two resorts in French Polynesia are using OTEC to take cool seawater and use it as a form of air conditioning. OTEC in SIDS can be used as a way of keeping surface water cool during marine heatwaves that threatens fish farming, as well as to produce hydrogen as an export commodity for SIDS.

Image: ClimateWorks Foundation

Reaching global emissions reduction targets is highly expected to require the elimination of previously emitted greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, and more attention is being paid to new innovations for carbon dioxide removal (CRD). Small Island Developing States are at risk from the impacts of climate change and hence it is crucial to consider CRD efforts, potentials, and risks.  Using a case study of a forthcoming coastal enhanced weathering project in the Dominican Republic, this paper presents a simple model for integrating local ownership, inclusion, and participatory governance of CRD. The paper argues that the inclusion of different actors into CRD innovation will enhance both governance and ethical considerations. Critical discourse around whether researching CDR in a SIDS context raises new, locally embedded and relevant questions about the relationship between CDR and climate change adaptation.

Image: Ocean Exploration Trust

The deep-ocean (depths>200m) constitutes more than 90 percent of all habitable space on earth. A good understanding of its functioning is key for the sustainability of the services it provides and the development of a sustainable blue economy. However, the good governance of the deep-ocean is challenged by a heterogeneous capacity in exploration and research. A recent paper, shares lessons learned in two SIDS (Trinidad and Tobago and Kiribati), to reduce dependency on external expertise and promote local efforts for  increased deep-ocean knowledge generation. These include tailored and co-designed multi-pronged approaches, the adequate provisioning of human and logistical resources, and the recognition of cultural specificities.

A successful blue economy transformation in SIDS relies on an integrated management that, in turn, relies on adequate knowledge and monitoring of marine habitats. However, large ocean states have dispersed territories and huge Exclusive Economic Zones, which makes traditional ecological methods insufficient. A recent paper demonstrates how passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), through the use of a compound index and machine-learning, has the potential to automate surveying in marine habitats. For SIDS, this means the ability to automate the tracking of coral reef restoration for surface areas larger than was possible through non-automated survey methods.

Further Resources

Policy analysis: Aligning economic development and water policies in Small Island Developing States 

Small island developing States (SIDS) are among the most water-scarce countries in the world, with seven in ten SIDS facing risks of water shortage, including nine in ten low-lying SIDS. This paper aims to analyze how SIDS can better align their economic development and water management policies to support the productive transformation of their economies, in particular by incorporating water security and water productivity into their economic plans. The paper also elaborates the fundamental and multi-faceted relationship between water and economic development and presents short case studies of both success and failure in considering water security in economic plans.

Preface to Transitioning to Sustainable Life below Water

Sustainable Development Goal 14 sets ambitious targets for the protection and restoration of the ocean. While some progress has been made, none of the 4 targets that were supposed to be met in 2020, were met. A new publication provides insights into the knowledge bases on Ocean Pollution, Small-Scale Fisheries, Global Processes in Ocean Policy, Climate Change and Its Impact on the Ocean, and  Deep-Sea Mining. While not specifically targeting SIDS policy makers, the different chapters of this publication represent a useful tool that could help stakeholders of large ocean states in the identification of marine ecosystems governance challenges, as well as key policy instruments needed for meeting the Agenda 2030. 

Gender, agrifood value chains and climate-resilient agriculture in Small Island Developing States

In light of the current context of climate change, there is an urge to focus on gender equality in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as it could lead to significant improvements in food security, resilience, and nutrition. This publication seeks to enhance the understanding and evidence base on gender, food systems, and resilience in the SIDS, while shedding light on gender-related roles, gender gaps, and traditional knowledge in agriculture and natural resource management to better support women’s participation in value chains. The document further calls for substantial transformations to strengthen resilient livelihoods, avoid and prevent gender inequalities, and support rural women and men in reducing their vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters.
Upcoming Opportunities and Events

A New Frontier in Marine Science and Innovation for Small Island Developing States - 2022 UN Ocean Conference Side Event 

Sustainable Development Goal 14 has a specific target to increase the economic benefits to Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) from the sustainable use of marine resources by 2030. However, very limited progress has been made on this front in SIDS, due to the persisting problems in developing, sustaining and locally retaining capacity. In this context, the Chair of AOSIS is launching the  “Declaration for the enhancement of scientific knowledge, research capacity and transfer of marine technology to SIDS” at the Second UN Ocean Conference. The Declaration, endorsed by all AOSIS Member States, highlights the key challenges currently faced by SIDS in capacity building and transfer of marine technology, and calls for enhanced partnerships that will overcome these specific challenges.

When: 27 June 2022, 13:00-14:15 (UTC+1)

Plastics and marine pollution: Innovations for SDG 14.1

UNDP joins forces with the UN Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) of the Republic of Korea (ROK) bring you an exciting side event presenting innovative solutions to plastic and other marine pollution issues at the global and national level. This event will also highlight actions and progress made by the Republic of Korea and the UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge in catalyzing technological, policy and other innovations to reduce marine pollution.

Register for the event to receive the full details and to receive the livestream link (if participating virtually):

When: 29 June 2022, 16:00-17:15 (UTC+1)

Join us in Building Capacity for Inclusive Digital Transformation in Caribbean SIDS

The objective of this event is to bring together Caribbean governments and UN Agency partners to highlight the role of digital technologies as accelerators of resilience and recovery in the Caribbean and the importance of building capacity of governments across the region for driving the inclusive digital transformation journey. The event will also serve as the regional launch of the new course: Inclusive Digital Transformation for the Achievement of the SDGs and SAMOA Pathway in SIDS. 

Register here 

When: Jun 30, 2022 11:00 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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