Ocean Action Hub

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What is the circular economy? Stepping up the fight against waste to #SaveOurOcean
17 Dec 2018 - The circular economy is a system in which re-using and recycling is maximised and waste and negative impacts are minimized — a closed loop where as little as possible is thrown away.

17 Dec 2018 - The best research available estimates there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean will contain more plastics than fish, by weight, by 2050.

Our waste problem is, put simply, enormous. And while initiatives such as forbidding plastic straws, encouraging alternatives to plastic coffee cups, and hosting ocean cleanups are very important contributions, they are not addressing the root of the issues, and are not moving the needle nearly enough. Recycling is not a panacea for our waste woes.

To get a grasp on the problem, we need new thinking and we need to scale-up. Now. But where lie the solutions? How are we to move the proverbial needle to where it needs to be?

First, we must more deeply realise that a thriving planet — with healthy ecosystems and biodiversity — are crucial to development and a sustainable future. From reducing poverty to achieving zero hunger to securing economic growth and sustainable cities, we need a healthy environment.

Second, we need to recognise the world’s capacity for economic growth is not unlimited. In fact, just as my two kids, six and eight years old will stop growing in 10 years, in the same way, a linear economy is probably limited in its growth as well. This is outlined by economist Kate Raworth (who has previously co-authored UNDP’s Human Development Report) in her book Doughnut Economics. Raworth argues that that we have reached our planetary boundaries and that unlimited growth might not be sustainable.

Third, we need to step-up action at-scale. It is through sound government policy and business leadership, that we will make a difference.

Indeed, the private sector — multinational corporations down to small- and medium-sized enterprises — are key partners.

What is the circular economy? In contrast to the linear, extractive model I mentioned earlier, the circular economy is “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design”. It describes a system in which re-using and recycling is maximised and waste and negative impacts are minimized — a closed loop system in which as little as possible is thrown away.

The concept is not new and has been gaining interest over the past years. However, we remain far from realizing our goals.

“We have an opportunity with the circular economy to rethink how we use resources like plastic and become a more responsible custodian of the planet. By using resources more efficiently and creating policies and economic infrastructure that encourage recycling and reuse, we can advance both Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.” — Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://medium.com/undp-in-asia-and-the-pacific/stepping-up-the-fight-against-waste-and-embracing-the-circular-economy-32ae747a3a11

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Strengthening the first line of defence: Mangroves protect vulnerable communities in Bangladesh

14 Dec 2018 - UNDP, with Bangladesh’s Forest Department, has been working with communities on a unique programme expanding a flourishing greenbelt of mangroves.

14 Dec 2018 - In 1970, the world’s deadliest storm, known as the Great Bhola Cyclone, killed between 300,000 and 500,000 people in what is now Bangladesh.  In 1991, a violent cyclone accompanied by tidal surges up to 30 feet high took an estimated 138,000 lives.  In 2007, Cyclone Sidr claimed over 3,400 lives.

Last May, Cyclone Mora affected over 3 million people, killing at least six, damaging or destroying 52,000 homes, and leaving hundreds of thousands in need of shelter.

Of the world’s seven tropical cyclone basins, the Bay of Bengal is perhaps the most dangerous, its funnel shape and shallow waters fostering some of the most destructive storms in history.   

For those living along Bangladesh’s densely-populated, low-lying coastline, the risks are growing, as climate change drives rising sea levels, warmer oceans and increasingly ferocious cyclones.

"I live on a small island. When storms hit, they damage houses and land and pour saline water into the paddy fields and crops. Already I’ve shifted my home once due to river erosion and it is further in danger because the mighty river Meghna is only one kilometer away." Adition Chandra Das, Rahmanpur, South Sakuchia, Monpura, Bhola 

In a bid to increase natural protection for vulnerable residents, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), together with Bangladesh’s Forest Department, has been working with communities on a unique programme expanding a greenbelt of mangroves and promoting more-resilient, multi-species forests.

After two years, the programme, with support from the GEF-Least Developed Countries Fund, is making strong headway, embracing both participative design and community-based management in its implementation.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://undp-adaptation.exposure.co/strengthening-the-first-line-of-defence

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Rise out of challenge with a commitment for the future: Nyugah Innocent from Cameroon's story will melt your heart
13 Dec 2018 - ​I was almost giving up as it's a little difficult researching on phone but the thought of what my little effort would do to save marine life has kept me going.

13 Dec 2018 - One of our Ocean Action Volunteers from Cameroon, Nyugah Innocent Fomusoh, recently reached out to us with the following message. His message with his commitment to help #SaveOurOcean even amidst a very challenging situation inspired us with awe. We hope this will melt you heart as well.

The UNDP Ocean Action Hub has been working with over 200 dedicated volunteers covering over 100 countries/territories around the world on our Ocean Action Campaign aimed at respecting and helping #SaveOurOcean.

*** Innocent’s text message to us ***

Good day to you,

This is Nyugah Innocent Fomusoh, Ocean Action Campaign Volunteer from Cameroon. I apologize for the delay registered in completing Wave 1 and 2 of the campaign. I had research a few Organizations through online search but as a result of the ongoing crisis and prolonged electricity and network blackout in Kumbo in the North West Region of Cameroon, I was forced to flee unprepared and couldn't leave with my PC.

I was almost giving up as it's a little difficult researching on phone but the thought of what my little effort would do to save marine life has kept me going.

I have drafted a short note to send out to all my networks and contacts. Could you please review it and provide any suggestions on recommended changes.

Thanks a lot for all your guidance.

With gratitude

Nyugah Innocent

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ocean-action-hub/rise-out-of-challenge-wi...

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Building Coastal Resilience through Innovation

10 Dec 2018 - How can new and scaled up investments in coastal areas build the resilience of countries and communities and increase their capacity to cope with climate change?

10 Dec 2018 - Insurance and infrastructure generally rank toward the very bottom of the list of fun and interesting things people like talking about. Beaches and coral reefs, on the other hand, are more engaging subjects. This one reason why climate risk insurance and insuring “natural infrastructure”—such as mangroves, coastal wetlands and coral reefs—has become quite a hot topic, including at the G7 Environment Ministers meeting this year.

Why the strong interest?

Coastal zones are absolutely critical to people’s lives and the planet. They are avenues to trade and communications; they provide resources and livelihoods; and they are often centers of economic growth, through industries like tourism, shipping, fishing and mineral extraction.

The ocean economy, covering broad categories of employment and ecosystem services, is estimated at US$3—6 trillion a year. And these areas are, of course, centers of population: half the world’s population lives within 60 kilometers of a coast.

But these critical zones are under intense threat.

Our changing climate is making sea levels rise and flooding more frequent. Storms are intensifying in severity, underground water sources are increasingly contaminated by salt water intrusion and coastal waters are increasing in temperature and acidity.

These increasing climate effects means we need to constantly renew our understanding of the risks we face in order to protect ourselves. The World Bank recently estimated the impact of extreme natural hazards to be equivalent to losing US$520 billion in annual consumption globally, forcing some 26 million people into poverty each year.

How can we cover the costs of these natural hazards and climate change impacts?

Government funding has not kept pace with the growing need to both reduce risks and build resilience to natural hazards such as tropical storms. Public budgets aren’t healthy enough to finance post-disaster cleanups, and most importantly, to fund the planning and implementation of preventative measures.

Fortunately, the World Bank report indicates that in the countries it studied, approaches such as insurance policies would help save US$100 billion a year and reduce the overall impact of natural hazards on well-being by around 20 percent.

New streams of finance: UNDP and The Nature Conservancy joint study

At the G7 Environment Ministers meeting in Halifax, Canada, in September, UNDP and The Nature Conservancy presented a joint study looking at how new and scaled up investments in coastal areas can build the resilience of countries and communities and increase their capacity to cope with climate change.

It examines some of the most innovative approaches to the mobilization of private capital for coastal resilience—particularly in Small Island Developing States. These approaches include:

  • insurance for natural capital: provides immediate funding for post-storm restoration of coral reefs and the services they provide; scalable from one pilot site in Cancun, Mexico, to multiple countries, providing insurance coverage that protects millions of people and billions of dollars in built infrastructure;
  • regional risk pools: reduces the costs governments have to pay to insure countries against storms by up to half; currently covers 18 of 37 small island states and could expand to cover additional sectors like fisheries and utilities;
  • green (or, more recently, “blue”) bonds: provides upfront capital for investment in coastal resilience, contingent on cash flows for repayment; huge potential for growth, contingent of clearer standards for what counts as “green” or “blue” investments;   
  • debt restructuring: provides cash flow for coastal resilience investments and could increase government budgets in indebted countries; scalable from a US$22 million innovation in Seychelles to potentially US$2 billion in restructurable debt across a dozen island states and well beyond that for coastal states.

Each of these mechanisms has the potential to be scaled up and make coastal areas around the world an attractive investment for certain private sector actors. But so far none have moved beyond pilot stage. This is the critical point: we urgently need to move beyond the science, beyond the pilots, to the roll out these credible ideas to threatened coastal communities.

But how do we most effectively scale up these projects to deliver them as widely as possible?

First, and fundamentally, we need the correct enabling environment for policy and financial structures. This means doing foundational work with local and national institutions to foster the conditions in which innovations can thrive and deliver.

Next, better data and metrics are needed to identify what programs work and why—we need to quantify how these program’s impact the environment and in turn peoples’ livelihoods.

And finally, we need all the right practitioners in the same room together. Governments, donors, the development sector and investors: all need to come together and share a vision for future resilience. Achieving the necessary, critical scaling of financial resources is above all else an issue of partnership.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/Building_Coastal_Resi...

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MOVING WITH THE TIMES: The Cook Islands is embracing technology for climate action

7 Dec 2018 - The Cook Islands Meteorological Service (Met Service) is modernising the capture, analysis, and distribution of climate information.

7 Dec 2018 - Fishers find typical seasons for the spawning of fish have changed and the islands are seeing coral bleaching and the disappearance of some native fish and shellfish delicacies.

"Fishing and planting are our communities’ livelihoods. In this, weather is everything. If the weather takes a turn for the worse while I am at sea, it can be a safety issue. If I am unable to catch enough fish to feed my family and provide for my community, then how can we survive? With the remoteness of our island, we must be resilient. We must adapt for our existence, and if technology is the pathway then let’s learn how to use it." - Poroa Arokapiki, Secretary - Mangaia Fishing Association

For centuries, Cook Islands communities have used traditional knowledge and skills, passed down through generations, to read their environment and provide food for their families. Nature has provided.

But farmers, fishers, and practitioners of traditional livelihoods have witnessed changes over the past decades. Typical seasons for the spawning of fish have shifted. Rainfall, wave, and wind patterns have become less predictable. The islands are seeing coral bleaching and the disappearance of some native fish and shellfish delicacies. Storm surges and sea-water intrusion are increasingly impacting crops.

While these trends are being observed first-hand by communities, scientific data is key to fully understanding the changes.

The Government of the Cook Islands is focused on filling the gaps and now, with the installation of automatic weather stations and a new online app, the Cook Islands Meteorological Service (Met Service) is modernising the capture, analysis, and distribution of climate information – a key piece of the puzzle in building a more climate-smart future.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://undp-adaptation.exposure.co/moving-with-the-times

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Innovative finance for the Maldives’ sustainable development

30 Nov 2018 - How can Maldives source the finance it needs to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what opportunities are offered by new innovative financing models?

30 Nov 2018 - The Maldives, which comprises 1,190 small islands in total, is a typical example of the ‘island paradox’ with multi-dimensional development challenges. On the one hand, the country has achieved relative prosperity; Gross National Income (GNI) increased by over 200% between 1990-2015, and human development indicators such as life expectancy at birth improved by 15.6 years. On the other hand, the country grapples with challenging macro-economic fundamentals: a high deficit (19.6% of GDP, 2016), high public debt levels (65.7% of GDP, 2016), a narrow economic and tax base, weak public financial management systems, vulnerability to external shocks due to a high dependence on fisheries and tourism sector (combined at over 30% of GDP), and increased environmental vulnerability due to climate change. The country’s graduation to middle-income status in 2011 has also resulted in a decline of development aid, of around 60% over a 10-year period since 2006.

In this context, how can Maldives source the finance it needs to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? And what opportunities are offered by new innovative financing models?

UNDP’s work in the Maldives focuses on addressing democratic governance, gender and climate change challenges. The work also includes assisting the government in improving its access to finance through initiatives such as Tax Inspectors Without Borders which was recently launched in the country and helps tax administrations build their tax audit capacities. This, in turn, helps to mobilize domestic public resources. The recently elected new government's strong commitment to the SDGs will strengthen these efforts.  

What can be done? One, as a Muslim country, Islamic financing instruments (Shariah lawcompliant financial products) like ‘Green Sukuk,’ have significant potential in the Maldives. Earlier this year, Indonesia launched the first sovereign ‘Green Sukuk’, which was oversubscribed, and indicative of the growing market demand for sustainable and responsible investments. Zakat funds (a form of philanthropy where followers of Islam are encouraged to donate at least 2.5% of their accumulated wealth) are another pool of resources that could be strategically tapped into. In May 2018, the Maldives began accepting Zakat proceeds, to support health and livelihoods programmes, however, much remains to be done.

Two, the country could seek to leverage additional finance from the private sector through blended finance (combining public and private investment) and impact investment (investing to generate impact alongside a financial return) in the major sectors of sustainable tourism and fisheries, as well as agriculture and renewable energy. The Maldives could tap into assistance from initiatives such as the SIDS-DOCK sustainable energy initiative for example, that help small island developing states to connect with the global market for finance to transform their national energy sectors into a catalyst for sustainable economic development. Additionally, UNDP is developing several social impact bonds worldwide, that bear potential for replication.

Three, the ‘Blue Economy’ is gaining momentum. The concept refers to a development approach in which ocean resources are harnessed for economic growth while preserving ocean and coastal ecosystem health. It includes economic activities such as marine renewable energy, sustainable fisheries, better management of ocean waste and ocean-related eco-tourism. To finance blue economy investments, new finance models can be explored, such as blue bonds (tapping into capital markets to fund ocean-related environmental projects). Other innovative ‘blue’ financing instruments include blue insurance, to co-finance and discount premia if marine economy protection measures are taken.

There are examples to learn from. Grenada is the first country to develop a vision for ‘Blue Growth’ and to articulate a national ‘Masterplan’ for blue economic development. The Seychelles also champion the blue economy model: It recently announced the issuance of a 10-year blue bond to finance fisheries projects, making it the world’s first country to utilize capital markets for funding the sustainable use of marine resources. Best practices are shared through international events, such as the high-level global conference on Sustainable Blue Economy (26-28 November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya) organized by the Governments of Canada, Japan and Kenya.

Additionally, the government needs to create an environment that better facilitates sustainable investment such as, strengthening institutions, improving transparency and good governance, improving the ease-of-doing-business, and building a strong policy framework for managing coastal and ocean resources, amongst others.

UNDP as a trusted development partner is assisting the Maldives on a wide portfolio of activities across climate change and governance, through technical expertise, policy advice, advocacy, knowledge sharing, and dialogue. However, it is crucial for the country to explore new innovative financing mechanisms to be able to achieve its development aspirations. As a small island developing state, the country needs to be supported to build capacities in these new financing models and approaches, to enable them to pull in new resources and build new partnerships for sustainable development.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/innovative-finance-for-Maldives-sustainable-development.html

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Global project launched to protect marine biodiversity

29 Nov 2018 - GloFouling Partnerships: A new collaboration between the GEF, UNDP and IMO to address bioinvasions through ships’ hulls and other marine structures

GloFouling Partnerships: A new collaboration between the GEF, UNDP and IMO to address bioinvasions through ships’ hulls and other marine structures

29 Nov 2018 - A new international effort to combat the negative environmental impacts of the transfer of aquatic species through ships has been launched this week. The GloFouling Partnerships project - a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) - will address the build-up of aquatic organisms on a ship’s underwater hull and on other marine mobile infrastructure.

The introduction of invasive aquatic organisms into new marine environments not only affects biodiversity and ecosystem health, but also has measurable impacts on a number of economic sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture and ocean energy. Therefore, addressing invasive aquatic species is not only a matter of ensuring the health and integrity of marine ecosystems, but ultimately about safeguarding ecosystem services that sustain the livelihoods of coastal communities across the globe.

The GloFouling project will drive actions to implement the IMO Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling, which provide a globally-consistent approach on how biofouling should be controlled and managed to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species through ships’ hulls. The project will also spur the development of best practices and standards for improved biofouling management in other ocean industries.

Twelve countries, representing a mix of developing nations and Small Island Developing States, have been selected to spearhead the work of the GloFouling project: Brazil, Ecuador, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tonga.

The GEF is providing a US$6.9 million grant to deliver a range of governance reforms at the national level, through numerous capacity-building activities, training workshops and opportunities for technology adoption to help address the issue of invasive species. Strong participation from private sector stakeholders is also expected, replicating the successful public-private sector partnership model used by IMO in previous projects.

While IMO will focus on shipping, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) will join the three main partners (GEF, UNDP, IMO) to lead the approach to other marine sectors with a view to developing best practices that may address the transfer of invasive aquatic species through improved biofouling management.  IOC-UNESCO will work hand in hand with the GloFouling project to increase awareness of this environmental challenge among key stakeholders. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/news-centre/news/2018/global-project-launched-to-protect-marine-biodiversity-.html

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Mauritius and Seychelles receive US$10 million to restore coral reefs for tourism

28 Nov 2018 - Innovative UNDP-supported climate change adaptation project will restore reefs, protect food security and promote disaster risk reduction.

Innovative UNDP-supported climate change adaptation project will restore reefs, protect food security and promote disaster risk reduction through ecosystem-based approach

The Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles, two small island developing states off the coast of Africa, have accessed a new US$10 million grant from the Adaptation Fund to restore their reef ecosystems.

The new six-year project, supported through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will  focus on coral reef restoration which eventually will contribute to protect the island nation’s growing tourism industries – which account for over 30 percent of national GDP and employ approximately half the population in both countries – at the same time ensuring food security for fishers who depend on the reefs to feed their families, and reducing risks from high-intensity storms.

“With the recent IPCC Report indicating a potential total loss of the world’s reefs if nothing is done to slow down global warming, nations across the globe need to scale up actions to protect their reef ecosystems and the billions of dollars they bring each year from tourism, fisheries, and reduced risks from natural disasters,” said Christine Umutoni, UNDP Resident Representative for the two nations. “UNDP has been supporting small island developing states for over a decade now to protect reefs and promote ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change. This new project signals an important step for these African nations in reaching their goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.”

The project will develop sustainable partnerships and community-based, business-driven approaches for reef restoration, establish coral farming and nursery facilities, and actively restore degraded reefs. On a regional and global level, the project will improve understanding on how to use coral reef restoration as a tool for climate change adaptation, provide models for sustainable management of reef ecosystems, and build capacity for long-term restoration and management of these precious habitants.

According to the United Nations, at least 500 million people worldwide rely on coral reefs for food, coastal protection and livelihoods. UN estimates put the value of reef ecosystems at US$36 billion per year for tourism alone. They are also an essential ecosystem, protecting 25 percent of known marine species and protecting coastal communities from storm surges, rising seas and high-intensity weather events like cyclones.

According to the new UN climate report, hotter and more acidic waters resulting from carbon pollution are killing off the world’s reefs at an alarming rate. With a temperature rise of just 1.5°C, the world will lose about 80 percent of coral reefs, while rises above 2°C will kill off virtually all of the world’s coral reefs.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://adaptation-undp.org/protect-billion-dollar-tourism-industry-mauritius-and-seychelles-restore-their-coral-reefs-new-us10

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What is the Blue Economy?

The Blue Economy is inclusive and improves the lives of all; creates jobs, reduces poverty and ends hunger; harnesses renewable energy; is based on sustainable fisheries ...

The Blue Economy:

  • Is inclusive and improves the lives of all
  • Harnesses renewable energy
  • Uses smart shipping to lessen the impacts on the environment
  • Is based on sustainable fisheries
  • Creates jobs, reduces poverty and ends hunger
  • Takes action against illegal fishing
  • Conserves marine life and oceans
  • Protects coastal communities from the impacts of climate change
  • Tackles marine litter and ocean pollution


More about the Blue Economy and sustainable economic development: 

Blue Economy: A sustainable ocean economic paradigm

Andrew Hudson
Head of Water and Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP

From November 26-28, Kenya will host the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi. This conference represents an important opportunity to take stock of both the opportunities – and the challenges – which the Blue Economy concept presents, in the context of SDG14 - Life Below Water...  Read...

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Innovative financing and regional dialogue are central for a thriving ‘blue economy’

25 Nov 2018 - The blue economy concept holds great potential for coastal communities around the world, including the Caribbean.

25 Nov 2018 - The concept of ‘blue economy’ is gaining momentum. It is all about using ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving ocean and coastal ecosystem health. It includes economic activities, such as sustainable marine energy, sustainable fisheries, better management of ocean waste and ocean-related eco-tourism. The blue economy holds great potential for coastal communities around the world. Take for example, the Caribbean.

At the Board of Governors Meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), 30-31 May 2018, the focus is on resilience, against the backdrop of one of the most devastating hurricane seasons the Caribbean region has experienced in recent history. As a contribution to the meeting, CDB and UNDP have partnered on a report to spark dialogue around the ways in which Caribbean countries can build resilience by adopting a ‘blue economy’ approach to development. The report identifies the financial challenges in the region, highlights innovative financing options that could be tested, and discusses policy and regulatory enablers to advance blue economy strategies at national and regional level.

What are the challenges? Financing investments in key blue economy areas such as sustainable infrastructure or research and development remains a significant challenge for Caribbean countries with a narrow economic and tax base, and in many cases high public debt. The debt-to-GDP ratio is over 60 percent in 12 out of 20 Caribbean countries according to Moody’s. Graduation of Caribbean countries to upper-middle and high-income status meanwhile has resulted in the decline of development aid by about 50 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to the World Bank, as well as restricted their eligibility for concessional finance. However, the region remains disproportionately vulnerable to environmental shocks and climate change. In 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria caused damages to Dominica estimated at more than 225 percent of GDP. This means affected countries need to find additional resources for relief and reconstruction.

What can be done? To finance blue economy investments, it is crucial that Caribbean countries have easier access to concessional finance and innovative debt instruments, such as countercyclical loans (allowing debt service to fall in the event of a major shock). There is also a need to explore innovative finance models, such as blended finance (combining public and private investment), impact investment (investing to generate impact alongside a financial return) and blue bonds (tapping into capital markets to fund ocean-related environmental projects). The report shows that these are underexplored areas for the Caribbean.

There are examples to learn from. Seychelles is one country championing the blue economy model. It has combined several innovative finance models to fund sustainable ocean-development and conservation. It issued its first ‘Blue Bond’ in 2017 to raise US$15 million to finance the transition to sustainable management of small-scale artisanal fisheries, including measures aimed at rebuilding fish stocks, harvest control measures, post-harvest and value adding activities, and scientific and sector support services. It also implemented a debt-for-nature swap combining $15.2 million of impact capital and $5 million in grants to buy back a portion of Seychelles’ debt at a discount, using the proceeds to fund marine conservation and climate change adaptation through a new trust fund named Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust.