Ocean Action Hub

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Em[powered] island communities lead energy innovation

Over one billion people now have electricity, which is a significant development achievement. In many island countries, only a small percentage of electricity comes from renewable sources. They remain highly dependent on imported diesel.

Over one billion people now have electricity, which is a significant development achievement. But this comes at a high price because it’s largely produced from coal, oil, and natural gas and the energy sector accounts for nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions.

In many island countries, only a small percentage of electricity comes from renewable sources. They remain highly dependent on imported diesel. To address this, islands have set very ambitious mitigation goals which some are close to achieving. Although their potential to utilize renewable energy remains largely untapped, many countries are adopting solar, wind, hydro electric power, and geothermal.


Tropical rainforest covers about 94 percent of Suriname, supplying it with an abundance of water and mineral resources. Electricity is supplied through hydro electric power and diesel generators. In the small indigenous community of Tepu, a solar farm has provided them with clean energy. After installing solar panels, for the first time in history, Tepu had round the clock electricity. This new system is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 tons a year. Two women, Ana Nantawi and Ketura Aparaka, were trained on how to assemble, install, and repair the panels.

Their skills have helped their village to transition to clean, reliable energy. In turn, they have trained others to install and maintain the panels. By welcoming renewable resources, the community has unlocked opportunities such as different local entrepreneurial activities, new refrigeration and electricity units for a medical clinic, and providing the community with clean drinking water.


With only 15 percent of the country having clean, reliable energy, Samoans have found a way to improve their energy supply by tapping into their renewable potential. In order to provide reliable access to energy and move away from imported fossil fuels, the island country is harnessing its clean energy potential.

This will be done with a biomass plant, which is set to harvest invasive trees as raw material, or feedstock, to supply and fuel it. These species are being evaluated for their calorific values and moisture content. The plant will be the four newest technology of its kind to make biomass energy — produced by living or once-living organisms. Samoans are taking a lead role in renewable energy policies, establishing energy system improvements, financing renewable energy schemes to benefit communities and local businesses, and raising awareness in schools and communities.


In Vanuatu, four out of 83 islands’ electricity is supplied by utility companies contracted through the government. The other islands, including Lelepa, are struggling with low power, temporary solutions such as solar home systems and fossil fuel powered generators. Lelepa has become the site for testing of a simple and innovative solar power technology. Five buildings on the island have been equipped with solar power based on a Flex-Grid — a unique smart meter-based mini-grid.

This flexible and simple technology allows for solar power projects to be carried out within a short time frame and with minimal preparation. Once installed, electricity is immediately made available. The new technology presents a great potential to expand electrification to the entire island of about 100 households, depending on the outcomes of the pilot project. Depending on the new energy possibilities, this has the potential to provide the community with new services and income generating opportunities, especially for local entrepreneurs, women and youth.

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What is the Blue Economy? Part 1: Leveraging innovative finance for Caribbean blue economy growth
21 Nov 2018 - Small islands are seeing the tangible advantages of pivoting their national development strategies towards the sustainable use of the ocean.

Justin Ram, Caribbean Development Bank           VIEW ORIGINAL
Gail Hurley, UNDP

30 Oct 2018 - UNDP BlogOne of the more recent terms emerging from the kaleidoscope of colored economies (brownblackorange) is the ‘Blue Economy’. While it may seem like following on the latest buzz of the development community, there are very tangible advantages for small islands to pivot their national development strategy towards the sustainable use of the ocean. In this 2-part blog series, we first introduce the concept and its advantages, then we discuss innovative financing mechanisms that can be used to direct investment to the sector.

A 4-Point Policy Checklist for Diving Deeper into the Blue Economy

The earth’s oceans have been described as the last economic ‘frontier’. Globally, ocean-based activities generated over US$1.5 trillion in economic output in 2010 and were directly responsible for over 31 million jobs, primarily in fisheries, tourism, off-shore oil and gas exploration and port activities. By 2030, on current trajectories, the ocean’s value added is expected to rise to US$3 trillion, and associated employment to over 40 million. However, the state of the world’s oceans and seas threatens these benefits. Climate change, pollution and overfishing pose significant threats to the sustainability of the oceans and the economic rents they could provide. For small island states where the ocean’s role as a source of subsistence and income is magnified, business as usual cannot continue.

What can we do differently? How can Caribbean countries more effectively leverage their ocean and coastal assets for economic and social development, while protecting these assets? This is the topic of the research paper, “Financing the Blue Economy: A Caribbean Development Opportunity,” produced jointly by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Adopting a “blue economy” approach (in which the economic value of marine assets is maximised while the health of marine and coastal ecosystems is protected) could help usher in a new development paradigm for the Caribbean. The paper proposes four key sectors for highly targeted interventions over the coming years: fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, renewable marine energy, and marine transport.

What does this imply in practice? And crucially, what can Caribbean policy-makers and the international community do to create an environment where the blue economy can thrive? 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/leveraging-innovative-finance-for-caribbean-blue-economy-growth.html

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#SaveOurOcean: consultations nationales sur l’ODD14 à Madagascar, 5 - 12 Mai

Madagascar se met en marche pour l'atteinte de l'ODD 14 avec l'organisation d'une série de consultations nationales avec les parties prenantes.

Madagascar se met en marche pour l'atteinte de l'ODD 14 avec l'organisation d'une série de consultations nationales avec les parties prenantes à la gestion et la conservation des ressources marines aux fins de développement durable. Ces consultations sont organisées par la task force interinstitutionnelle pour l’atteinte de l’ODD14 sous le leadership du Ministère de l’Economie et du Plan, en partenariat avec le bureau du Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD) à Madagascar et le World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF).

Programme :

5 mai 2017 - Antsiranana

8 mai 2017 - Mahajanga

12 mai 2017 - Toliara

Plus de détails ici >

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Madagascar: Lancement des consultations nationales sur les Océans
6 mai 2017 - Madagascar se met en marche pour l'atteinte de l’Objectif de Développement Durable (ODD) 14 avec l'organisation d'une série de consultations nationales.

Madagascar se met en marche pour l'atteinte de l'ODD 14 avec l'organisation d'une série de consultations nationales avec toutes les parties prenantes à la gestion et la conservation des ressources marines aux fins de développement durable.

La task force interinstitutionnelle pour l’atteinte de l’Objectif de Développement Durable (ODD) 14 sous le leadership du Ministère de l’Economie et du Plan, en partenariat avec le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD) et le World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), annoncent le lancement d’une série de consultations nationales sur l’ODD 14 relatif à la conservation et l’exploitation de manière durable des océans, des mers, et des ressources marines aux fins du développement durable. Ces consultations se tiendront les 5 – 8 – 12 mai prochains respectivement à Antsiranana, Mahajanga et Toliara et constitueront un cadre de concertation regroupant les entités nationales et décentralisées concernées par la gestion et la conservation des océans, les communautés de ces zones côtières, le secteur privé, ainsi que les partenaires techniques et financiers autour de l’ODD14 et de ses interactions avec les 16 autres objectifs de développement durable. Les produits de ces ateliers permettront également de préparer la participation de Madagascar à la Conférence des Nations Unies sur les Océans qui se tiendra à New York du 5 au 9 juin 2017. Cette série d’ateliers permettra de définir les engagements du pays dans la mise en œuvre de l’ODD 14, mais aussi de coupler les dispositions internationales prises par le pays à la mise en place d’un cadre de référence stratégique de toutes les interventions contribuant aux cibles de cet objectif. La task force interinstitutionnelle pour l’atteinte de l’ODD14 a été instituée à Madagascar afin de coordonner et structurer les contributions de chaque partie prenante à ce cadre de référence stratégique, mais également de mettre en place une bonne structure de gouvernance relative à l’atteinte de cet ODD. Cette task force, appuyée par le PNUD, regroupe le Comité National de Gestion Intégrée des Zones Côtières (CNGIZC) de la Primature, six ministères du gouvernement, le Réseau Madagascar de Gestion Locale des Ressources Marines (MIHARI) représentant les communautés locales, le WWF représentant des partenaires d’appui, et le Groupement des Armateurs à la Pêche Crevettière de Madagascar (GAPCM) représentant le secteur privé.

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Strategies and Approaches for Accelerating and Scaling up SDG14 Implementation

UN Headquarters, Conference Room 11

Watch the video recording of this side event here 

UN Headquarters, Conference Room 11

Watch the video recording of this side event here 

Download the speakers' presentations at the links below and view photos of this event here >

Hosted by UNDP, in collaboration with the Governments of Sweden and Tonga, Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Partnerships for Environmental Management in the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), Marine Research Institute of Colombia (INVEMAR) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Background: SDG14 is one of the most ambitious of the 17 SDGs particularly in terms of the accelerated time frames for achieving several of the targets. Successful implementation of SDG14 requires replication and rapid scaling up of proven strategic approaches that can deliver on one or more SDG14 targets. Drawing from the UNDP/GEF International Waters and Biodiversity portfolios, this side event will present a series of short ‘case studies’ highlighting such proven approaches that have succeeded in reversing large scale dead zones, moved global tuna stocks towards sustainability, reduced the impacts of shipping on the marine environment, and introduced integrated, ecosystem-based approaches to sustainable ocean and coastal management at both local and multi-country scales. Speakers will highlight the strategic planning and other ocean policy and management tools and methodologies used, lessons learned and opportunities for replication and upscaling.

High Level Panel: Opening Remarks

  • Peter Thomson, President, United Nations General Assembly - READ OPENING REMARKS
  • Isabella Lovin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Sweden
  • Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme - READ OPENING SPEECH 

​The event was moderated by Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Development Programme.

Technical Panel [including links to presentations]:

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Natural solutions to sustainability challenges in Cuba: The Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago lies at the heart of the broader Sabana-Camagüey Ecosystem (SCE). 

Over the years, the region's ecosystems have come under varying degrees of pressure as a result of unsustainable practices in sectors such as agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and tourism – all of which play an important role in the local and national economy. Conflicts between competing land uses emerged, and with the closure of sugar factories in the 1990s many people were left without their traditional livelihoods.

Against this backdrop, the Government of Cuba and its partners, with support from UNDP and funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), began to turn challenges into opportunities, using nature-based solutions. In 1993, the first of a series of three projects was initiated in the Sabana-Camagüey Ecosystem to conserve valuable ecosystems, prioritise biodiversity in development planning, and build sustainable communities.

Working at pilot sites (including two Ramsar wetlands), a wealth of biodiversity-compatible livelihoods was introduced, including: nature-based tourism, agro-forestry, bee-keeping, sustainable livestock management, and the sustainable cultivation of mangrove oysters and natural sponges. In previously degraded wetlands, farmers now adopt sustainable approaches to raising water buffaloes for meat and milk, whilst restoring wetland health.

In areas previously under sugarcane, farmers now cultivate a wide variety of crops, nurturing them with organic compost from worm farms, and using biogas for their energy needs. The net effect of these changes has been to restore ecosystem health, with additional benefits for food security and economic prosperity. Best practices developed in the SCE have now been scaled-up and replicated at other sites.

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Developing Ecotourism in Salamansa

Local fishers association develops an underwater tourist trail as a tool for biodiversity conservation and supporting local livelihoods.

Salamansa is a fishing village in Cape Verde with approximately 1,170 inhabitants. It is located north of the island of São Vicente near the city of Mindelo and it is a rural area where half of the population is primarily engaged in artisanal fishing for their livelihoods. The artisanal fishing community includes about 148 fishermen and 10 fish merchants, who also practice other socio-economic activities such as animal husbandry, agriculture (during the rainy season), and small scale trade.

With the aim to create alternative livelihoods, reduce the pressure on the ecosystem and reactivate the first underwater trail for ecotourism, the Associação dos Pescadores de Salamansa received technical and financial support from the GEF Small Grants Programme in Cape Verde in 2010. The construction of the underwater trail in Baía das Gatas was the result of an initial partnership between Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Cape Verde, WWF Germany and the German Agency for Nature Conservation.

The goal of this project was to demonstrate community-based ecotourism as a tool for biodiversity conservation and improvement of local livelihoods using the underwater trail as an example. To operationalize the underwater trail, the association carried out a number of key activities including the development of a marketing strategy to promote the trail, preparation of a code of conduct for its use, and selection and training of key staff to manage the trail.

The second phase of the project involved the establishment of a community-based maintenance and monitoring plan for the underwater trail and an awareness raising campaign within the community about the benefits of the sustainable use of marine resources. Once everything was in place, the trail was opened to the public, excursions were promoted and organized, and the Associação dos Pescadores de Salamansa, established a fund to collect and manage trail admission fees for maintaining the trail.

Download the full case study.pdf

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Community-based Coastal Conservation in Belitung

Belitung is a small archipelago situated on the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. It comprises one main island and several small islands, and is part of Bangka Belitung Islands Province.

Due to its rich deposits of tin, Belitung experienced the development of a massive tin mining business that started in the colonial period around the 1850s. The expansion of mining activities on the island led to rapid environmental degradation, eventually damaging 80% of the mangrove forest in Selat Nasik Coast, and producing negative impacts on the livelihoods of the local fisher folks.

The Belitung Coastal Community Group (BCCG) was established in 1998 with the mission to combat the environmental threats caused by mining activities and to implement sustainable coastal ecosystem management. In particular, BCCG aims to rehabilitate, protect and manage marine and coastal resources, while also reducing poverty and improving the livelihoods of the communities on Belitung Island.

Since 2008, the UNDP implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) in Indonesia has worked closely with the Belitung Coastal Community Group – BCCG (Kelompok Pemuda Lingkungan Belitung – or KPLB in Bahasa Indonesia), to implement an innovative island conservation model in Tanjung Binga, Belitung Island and Kepayang Island.

At the outset, the project aimed at creating a model for the sustainable management of coral reef ecosystems that would enable the rehabilitation and protection of key natural resources while also reducing poverty and improving the livelihoods of the community in Belitung Island. To achieve this objective, BCCG organized activities to raise awareness in the community about the threats faced by coral reef ecosystems, started a coral reef transplantation programme to improve the quality and variety of coral reef, and conducted participatory education and training in order to implement effective and sustainable coral reef management. BCCG also created a network to support the work of fishers and other key stakeholders engaged in conservation activities. To improve livelihoods and reduce the pressure on the ecosystems, the group also initiated sustainable ornamental fishery and ecotourism activities. This project improved the coral ecosystem, engaged the community in conservation activities and increased the income and quality of life of the local population.

 Download Full Case Study.pdf (634.6 KB)

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Mangrove Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries in Playa Florida, Cuba

Playa Florida is a coastal village in the south of Cuba adjacent to one of the most delicate and rich marine eco-systems in the Caribbean.

This area is also one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the local communities have had to evacuate during storms (such as Ike and Paloma in 2008).

The loss of the mangroves poses a risk to the local population by shortening the shoreline, increasing erosion and their vulnerability to floods, surges and storms. In terms of biodiversity, the damage to the mangrove ecosystem also reduces water quality and destroys the natural habitat of fish and crustacean species.

In 2009, with the support of the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the technical advice from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, the community of Playa Florida set out to restore the coastal and mangrove ecosystem in Playa Florida. To achieve this goal the community started an awareness raising campaign on the importance of the mangrove ecosystem for the health of marine resources and as an adaptation tool to address climate change. The community also worked with fisher folk to improve their fishing practices and livelihood opportunities and reduce the pressure on the ecosystem. The project also provided better fishing gear and training on sustainable fishing practices such as the use of wider fishing nets to reduce bycatch, promoting compliance and respect for fishing bans, and developing sustainable fishing plans. The project also worked with fisher folk to create a union that would enable them to get better prices.

 Download Full Case Study.pdf (1.32 MB)

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Reducing Sea Turtle Bycatch

In Malaysia, various state and national laws protect marine sea turtles; and four species have been identified for conservation purposes.

However, the once abundant leatherback turtle is now functionally extinct. The olive ridley is down to just tens of nests per year. The hawksbill hangs on precariously. Only green turtle numbers remain stable, with several hundred turtles nesting regularly at a few rookeries and some 5,000 nests annually off Sandakan, in Sabah (Borneo).

While green turtles are abundant, they face exceptional challenges and the greatest of these is accidental capture in commercial and artisanal fisheries. Sea turtles share habitats with certain shrimp and fish species and are put at risk by shrimp trawling. As the nets roll along the seabed they indiscriminately catch and drown numerous sea turtles – estimated at some 3,000 to 4,000 each year in Sabah alone.

The GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by UNDP, supported the Marine Research Foundation (MRF) to develop and implement a long-term national by catch reduction programme in partnership with the Department of Fisheries of Malaysia (DOFM). The programme had an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries to improve the conservation status of sea turtles and their habitats in Malaysia. This was achieved through the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which are oval metal grids affixed in the narrow portion of the net, allowing fish and shrimp to pass through to the cod end while ejecting large objects, such as turtles, through a net webbing ‘trapdoor’.

 Download Full Case Study.pdf (779.58 KB)