Issue 50 | November 2021

This week marks the kick-off of the UNFCCC COP26, the most anticipated and arguably the most important climate conference since Paris in 2015. With it, voices from every corner of the world are calling for urgent climate action, the loudest and clearest of which are coming from SIDS. From the Caribbean to the AIS region an the Pacific, governmentsjournalists, youth activists and researchers, all agree that the window to prevent irreversible damages is narrowing fast. The global community must act and act now.

COP26 is a great opportunity to design a common path towards a sustainable and resilient future but could also be a point of no return for our climate and ecosystem if world leaders do not rise to the occasion. It is estimated that “climate finance needs to rise sharply to $5 trillion a year by 2030 to fund measures to fight climate change”. If countries do not enhance their ambition, current emission reduction pledges will lead the world to a 2.7°C temperature rise.

For SIDS, reducing GHG emissions and maintaining global temperature rise below 1.5°C is a matter of survival. Therefore, on top of their ambitious goal of lowering their emissions by 70% by 2030 and by 100% by 2035, they are coming to COP26 with concrete action plans and bold proposals. During the latest AOSIS Leaders’ Summit, SIDS emphasized the need for more accessible climate finance and grant funding to help them adapt to the climate crisis. They argue that 40% of the yearly $100 billion for climate finance pledged by developed countries should fund adaptation projects in SIDS. On mitigation, they propose the creation of an IMF global disaster mechanism to support countries that have suffered damages equivalent to at least 5% of their GDP caused by natural disasters. SIDS leaders are also calling on financial institutions and development banks to issue natural disaster clauses for future and existing loans.

The sense of climate urgency felt in SIDS and their strife for a more resilient future should be felt and shared by the entire planet. It is in this spirit that UNDP launched its “Don’t Choose Extinction” campaign last week to raise awareness. Our governments are still spending $420 billion every year on fossil fuels. As world leaders gather at COP26, it is high time they act to reverse the unsustainable development course they have taken and hear the call of someone who knows a thing or two about extinction.

Image: Don't Choose Extinction Campaign/ UNDP


Keywords:  Rising Up For SIDS, COP26, biodiversity, marine protected areas, SDGs, green recovery, coral reef conservation, sustainable development, machine learning, gender equality, inclusive, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, water solutions, blue bonds, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy
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Country Corner
Image: Solomon Islands/UNDP

One of the main challenges for policy makers in SIDS in the path towards digital transformation, is the scarcity of objective data on digital skills, often due to a lack of consistent indicators to measure it. The Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard (IDES), developed by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), helps solve this issue by providing decision makers with a tool to assess local digital transformation capabilities and potential. The Solomon Islands were one of the four pilot countries for the IDES in 2020, showing its appetite for change and its willingness to tap into the potential of digital technologies. Currently, five other SIDS have joined the initiative: Papua New-Guinea, Samoa, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu. The latest IDES report on the Solomon Islands recommends expanding “new digital services through infrastructure development, upskilling human resources and improving the regulatory environment” in order to grant the population greater access to financial and telecommunication services. Besides the efforts to accelerate their digital transformation, the Solomon Islands are moving towards sustainable growth by implementing food security projects in the Lake Tegano area. These focus mainly on fishery, piggery, and beekeeping, as well as on improving water security and sanitation. As many SIDS import their food via fossil fuel-powered maritime transport, strengthening their food sovereignty is a way to reduce their GHG emissions. Such projects are vital to support resilience efforts and sustainable development in island nations.

Image: Guinea Bissau/UNDP

“Na Nô Mon” New digital platform trains decision-makers and empowers women in Guinea Bissau

In Guinea Bissau, the newly launched, UNDP-developed, digital platform “Na Nô Mon” (which translates as “In Your Hands”), powers several training initiatives designed and implemented with the vital participation of local actors. These trainings aim to promote an inclusive and sustainable development path for the country. For example, the Leadership Academy organizes training sessions for civil servants, civil society organizations or politicians, and the Impact Hub supports, through networking events, local entrepreneurs willing to “build a greener Guinea Bissau”.

The platform is also supporting the Women’s Empowerment and Literacy Project, led by a local NGO and which 104 women are currently attending. As of 2009, 62.1% of women in Guinea Bissau could not read or write and the illiteracy rate remains high today, mainly affecting women and girls. Many young women are unfortunately forced to terminate their schooling early to take on household duties or even being coerced into early marriages or child labour. Empowering women through education and literacy training will enable them to play a bigger role in decision-making processes within their communities, as well as in the sustainable development of their country. This project echoes UNDP’s objective of bridging gender gaps in access to training and employment as a catalyst for SIDS sustainable and inclusive development.

Image: Seychelles/UNDP

Seychelles builds tax inspectors' capacity to increase revenue and transparency

The lack of fiscal space is one of the main hurdles to SIDS’ development. Moreover, some SIDS are faced with tax avoidance issues, like in the Seychelles. Enhancing its tax auditing capacities is an efficient way for the island country to raise more revenue, which is sorely needed to finance adaptation and mitigation policies necessary to face external shocks caused by climate change. Therefore, the Seychelles joined the global digital tax initiative “Tax Inspectors Without Borders” (TIWB) on 4th October 2021, by launching a one-year programme implemented through the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) and supported by the Government of India. UNDP-supported TIWB tax audit assistance programs have already been launched in 50 developing countries. In Seychelles, the program focuses on “building the capacity of the SRC in handling transfer pricing cases in the tourism and financial services sectors”. In addition to increasing revenue for development, this initiative will make two key sectors of Seychelles’ economy, tourism and finance, more transparent; thereby reinforcing the country’s appeal for international investors. This initiative is yet another example of the relevance of actor-centered projects in SIDS and developing countries in general, as the training of local tax administrators will bring long-term benefits to the country. The support role of the Indian government also shows that South-South cooperation is a lever on which SIDS can count.

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In the News
Image: Unsplash

Dominican Republic proposes a new fund to finance sustainable recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean

During the last Ibero-American Environmental Week, the Dominican Republic proposed the creation of a “Recovery and Restructuring Fund for Latin America”. This fund would finance the decarbonization of regional economies in the fields of infrastructure, industrialization as well as research and innovation, through long term and zero interest rates loans. Markets can shape behaviors and the right incentives can push stakeholders towards sustainable development models. This presents an important opportunity for Caribbean SIDS to finance blue economy, climate action or digital transformation strategies. Moreover, SIDS demonstrate commitment to sustainable development once again. The Dominican Republic also happens to be the 4th largest contributor to UNDP in 2020.

As economies recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, “building forward better” must equate to “building forward greener and bluer”. Initiatives such as the Dominican proposed fund can incentivize this. However, it is in every country’s interest to heavily invest in climate action since, according to a WWF report, the world economy stands to lose $10 trillion over the next 30 years if the global community does not urgently address the nature and climate emergency.

Image: Mauritius & Seychelles/UNDP

Global funds step up investment in coral reefs protection, including $125 million from the Green Climate Fund


A recent report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates the export value in ocean-based industries globally at $2.5 trillion, confirming that Blue Economy has substantial growth potential. However, this estimate is based on 2018 data, when coastal and marine tourism was the biggest ocean industry, worth nearly half of the total export value ($1.1 trillion). As the COVID-19 pandemic saw tourism revenues plummet, the report suggests that countries heavily reliant on tourism, like SIDS, could benefit from “diversifying and upgrading their production towards niche and ocean-based activities with higher added value”. An important asset SIDS must invest in are coral reefs. Reefs account for $2.7 trillion per year in ecosystem services value, which are vital for coastal communities in SIDS. Indeed, coral reefs provide benefits including food provision, livelihoods support and coastal protection. Unfortunately, we have lost half of the world’s reefs since the 1950s and they continue to decline as a consequence of climate change, pollution and unsustainable tourism and fishing practices.
On the upside, the global community is increasingly coming together to preserve the remaining coral reefs. The Green Climate Fund has approved an investment of $125 million to the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR). In addition, Canada’s Prime Minister announced during COP 26, that his country will support GFCR with a $6 million contribution.
For SIDS, such funds are instrumental to bridge the coral reef funding gap by unlocking private sector investments. Recently, members of the GFCR Executive Board approved the financing of 4 projects, with 3 of them in SIDS. These projects include interventions like coral reef insurance, blue carbon and resilience credits in the the Bahamas, a Blue Economy Enterprise Incubation Facility in Papua New Guinea, and the identification and development of reef-positive market solutions in the Solomon Islands.
UNDP is a committed partner in coral restoration efforts, be it through joining the GFCR’s coalition of partners or implementing projects through its Climate Adaptation Fund; such as initiatives in the Republics of Mauritius and Seychelles funded by a $10 million grant from the Adaptation Fund.

Image: UNCDF © 2019 John Rae
 A report on women’s participation to business leadership in Pacific SIDS, published by an Asian Development Bank programme, shows that women are increasingly holding senior leadership and decision-making roles in the corporate world. Women representation is trending upward. On average, for the 14 SIDS surveyed, the percentage of women CEOs and company board members is higher than the global and the regional Asia-Pacific averages. Indeed, in Pacific SIDS, 23.3% of board members and 15.6% of CEOs are women, whereas these numbers go down to 16.9% of board seats and 4.4% of CEOs globally, and 21% and 13% in the Asia-Pacific. When looking at each Pacific SIDS individually, 12 out of 14 have a higher level of women participation in business senior roles than the global average and half exceed the Asia-Pacific average. Even though women are still underrepresented in corporate leadership, these numbers indicate that progress is being made in SIDS. Promoting and enhancing gender equality is a key aspect of the Samoa Pathway and UNDP’s SIDS Offer, and as an International Labour Organization report shows, closing the gender gap also delivers commercial benefits for companies.
Image: Unsplash

Machine learning used to assess more than 100,000 climate studies and highlight the lack of data on SIDS


In the recently published article “Machine-learning-based evidence and attribution mapping of 100 000 climate impact studies”, a group of scientists compiled the conclusions of over 100,000 studies to analyze the largest ever body of evidence on the impacts of climate change. Their aim is to demonstrate that these impacts are already affecting at least 80% of land areas, where 85% of the world's population lives. As they began mapping the results, they uncovered that climate change studies are “twice as likely to focus on wealthier countries in Europe and North America than low-income countries like those in Africa and the Pacific Islands”. Not only are countries in the Global South, especially SIDS, more impacted by the climate crisis, but they also lack the data and resources necessary for assessing the external shocks caused by climate change and implementing the mitigation and adaptation measures necessary to fight against it. Therefore, gathering data is an urgent priority for SIDS. It is essential as sea-level rise accelerates, and natural disasters are five times more frequent than they were in previous decades. This study highlights how useful machine learning and geospatial analytics tools can be for SIDS. As presented in issue 48 of the SIDS Bulletin, other digital technologies such as satellite monitoring systems, can be used to enhance disaster response and build climate resilience


Image: Unsplash

How to fill the marine conservation funding gap ?

The ocean nurtures 80% of all forms of life, generates half the oxygen we breathe and absorb 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions, it also provides many communities with food and jobs, especially in SIDS. So, protecting oceans from anthropogenic impacts, such as pollution, unsustainable tourism or over-fishing, is vital to maintain the ecosystem services they provide. Marine protected areas(MPA) are a key tool to achieve this goal. Safeguarding biodiversity through MPAs brings many benefits, such as enhanced food supplies, opportunities for sustainable tourism, shoreline protection and greater resilience to climate change. While several organizations, like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are calling for 30% protection of oceans by 2030only 7.91% of ocean areas are currently declared as MPAs (20% lower than the ambition set by the Aichi Biodiversity Target 14). The inadequate financing of more than 60% of MPAs is one of the main hurdles to their expansion and effectiveness. 
A team of scientists used fish populations as a proxy for ecological effects of MPAs and set up a database on the impact of relationships between management processes and ecological effects . They concluded that MPAs without enough staff had 3 times less ecological effect than those with sufficient staff capacity. This funding gap can be filled by establishing public-private partnerships, like in Belize’s  Turneffe Atoll MPA, which received $1.2 million of investments. Scaling up this approach to financing marine conservation could be especially useful for SIDS, since they often lack the fiscal space to ratchet up public funding. Many MPAs managed through such partnerships are financially sustainable, such as the Bonaire National Marine Park. However, in order to be successful, PPPs require a match between an MPA with a tangible business model, and investors who accept patient capital.


Updated NDC Synthesis Report: Worrying Trends Confirmed

UN Climate Change published an update to the synthesis of climate action plans as communicated in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The update of key findings of the NDC Synthesis Report confirms the overall trends identified by the full report, which was released on 17 September 2021.

G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration

On 30-31, October Rome hosted the G20 Summit, the first held in Italy. At the end of two days of working sessions and side events, the G20 Leaders adopted the Rome Declaration. The document is the final outcome of an intense year of negotiations and events organized in the framework of the Italian G20 Presidency.

Creating Resilient Futures: Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change Adaptation Agendas

Editors: Stephen Flood, Yairen Jerez Columbié, Martin Le Tissier, Barry O'Dwyer. This edited volume critically examines the coherence building opportunity between Climate Change Adaptation, the Sustainable Development Goals and Disaster Risk Reduction agendas. The authors consider opportunities to address the global challenge of developing resilience, as an integrated development continuum instead of through independent and siloed agendas. 

AOSIS Islands On Alert - Episode 7 is here! Listen now !  

Hear from an international education and advocacy expert as well as a powerful youth activist on how they’re tackling the issue of climate change on the global and local fronts.Guests include Okalani Mariner, from Pacific Climate Warriors, Samoa and Michael Sheldrick, Global Director of Policy and Advocacy at Global Citizen.

Developing the Blue Economy
Author:  Robert C. Brears

This book discusses challenges to the traditional ocean economy and the emergence of the blue economy, presents innovative policies, technologies, and financing tools available to develop the blue economy. It also provides examples of initiatives that support multiple socio-economic and environmental goals.

Capital Musings - Season 3, Episode 6 - Fiji: Blue and Green Finance Pioneer

Capital Musings is a podcast series featuring in-depth conversations with economic development experts, thought-leaders and private sector leaders discussing critical issues at the intersection of development finance, impact investment and the SDGs.

Charting a 1.5°C Trajectory for Maritime Transport


 Outlines a set of key actions and recommendations for business leaders and policy makers to accelerate an equitable decarbonization of maritime transport in line with a 1.5°C trajectory. The brief is the outcome of the UN Global Compact "Blue Road to COP 26," a multi-stakeholder work stream to advance ocean-based climate solutions.

Blueprint for a Climate-Smart Ocean to Meet 1.5°C

This Blueprint lays out six key steps to unlock a climate-smart ocean to meet 1.5 C, from innovative ocean management and human-centred policies, to harnessing blue finance and leveraging the ocean-climate nexus in political processes. The blueprint is the outcome of the UN Global Compact Blue Road to COP 26 multi-stakeholder workstream.

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

COP26 VIRTUAL OCEAN PAVILION: Connecting All on Our Incredible Blue Planet

This COP26 Virtual Ocean Pavilion is dedicated to showcase why the ocean matters in climate negotiations and to all life on our planet. It aims to increase knowledge, commitment and action for the ocean-climate nexus at the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November.
Registration is free and will provide you with online access to live ocean events on November 1, 5, and 12 and on-demand content from 31 October - 12 November. All you will need is a Wi-Fi connection and a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Subtitles in 16 languages are supported during live events.
This pavilion will:
Highlight important ocean events such as planned by the UNFCCC Secretariat under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action (MP-GCA), and VOP collaborating partners; Host panel sessions linking the ocean with the themes of the GCA events and SBSTA Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue themes to provide input to these discussions; Feature interviews with Party negotiators to gain insights on the status of discussions; Provide a gateway to ocean and climate stories from around the world through virtual exhibits, on-demand videos, reports and other online resources.


When: 31 October - 12 November 2021


Dear World Leaders

Dear World Leaders is an initiative by the UN Development Programme to raise awareness of the global climate crisis ahead of COP26 in Glasgow - and beyond. Climate change has the potential to irreversibly change our futures. We have a short window of time to collectively take the urgent action necessary to limit average global temperature rise to a safer 1.5 °C. With your help, we created this initiative to remind world leaders of what’s at stake. Join us. Send a message to world leaders now

Ocean Innovation Africa

Catch the ocean innovation wave and register to attend Africa's Blue Economy Summit, hosted during the third edition of Ocean Innovation Africa. This edition will be hybrid, with events in person on the 5th of Novembre at the V&A Waterfront in Capetown, and virtually on the 9th and 9th of Novembre. It will include expert keynotes and panel discussions, ocean-impact start-up pitches, an exhibition hall (V&A and online) and networking and B2B programme. Pre-registration is open now. 

When: 5, 8 and 9 November 2021


World Climate Summit - The Investment COP

This COP26 side event in Glasgow is hosted by the World Climate Foundation. The Investment COP 2021 ​is recognised as one of the most important official side events of COP26. It is the leading forum for business and investment-driven solutions to climate change, acknowledging the essential importance of collaboration and the “bottom-up” perspective in solving climate change.

​With the Decade to Deliver on Climate Action more crucial now than ever, it will be a must-attend event for leading stakeholders driving climate solutions, investments and legislation. ​Throughout the last 12 years, the World Climate Summit has become a key platform for connecting markets with policies, to flatten the climate curve.

When: November 7-8

Fiji’s First Sovereign Blue Bond Announcement at COP 26 

H.E Fijian Attorney-General and the Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will announce the Government of Fiji’s plans to issue its first sovereign Blue Bond. This announcement will provide the participants a sneak peek into key investable opportunities identified so far by the Government of Fiji. The Government of Fiji is working closely with the UK Government, the UNDP and the UNCDF in the end-to-end process of issuing Fiji’s first sovereign Blue Bond by summer of 2022. Blue Bonds provide national and international investors with an opportunity to diversify their investments in a sustainable manner while accelerating the Blue Economy transformation in SIDS.

Venue: AOSIS Pavilion
When: 10 November 2021 (10 - 10:30AM, GMT)

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 6th–10th 2021

The Regular Process Newsletter 

We are pleased to share the first edition of the newsletter of The Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment. In this issue, you can read about the past launch of the Second World Ocean Assessment. Also, States interested in hosting the next round of regional workshops, and intergovernmental organizations interested in co-hosting or supporting a regional workshop, are invited to contact the secretariat at or Elena Temnova .

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