UNDP SIDS Bulletin | Issue 34

Rowely Parico • 17 March 2021

Issue 34 | March 2021

This year's International Women's Day celebrated women in leadership and the essential role of women and girls in shaping "an equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic". Across SIDS, women's full and effective participation and leadership drive progress for all development challenges, from tackling the pandemic to combatting climate change. In the Pacific, for example, gender equality and women's empowerment is at the root of the Pacific Climate Security Project referenced below. In Suriname, awareness of how the disproportionate impact of disasters and climate change disproportionately on women drives greater inclusion of women in capacity building activities. While in the Maldives, a recent initiative details how involving women in the peace-making process could reduce violent extremism and contribute to achieving sustainable peace. Women are powerful change agents, exclusion of their role in decision-making processes leaves out necessary experiences inhibiting meaningful progress on the SAMOA Pathway and 2030 Agenda. International Women's Day falls once a year, but efforts to fully leverage the potential of women’s leadership are ongoing and at the core of UNDP's SIDS offer – from empowering women as key agents in the blue economy to bridging the digital gender divide.   

In this bulletin, we explore a broad spectrum of topics, highlighting how SIDS are paving their way towards a green and resilient future. You can also learn how to participate with your SIDS-based solution in the second Call for Proposals of the Ocean Innovation Challenge!

 
Calling all SIDS ocean innovators!
Three SIDS innovations were announced as among the nine winners of the 2020 Ocean Innovation Challenge (OIC), a unique mechanism launched to identify, finance, and mentor innovative approaches to ocean and coastal restoration and protection that sustain livelihoods and advance the “blue economy”. The second Global Call for Proposals was launched this month – click below to learn more. The first OIC global call focused on marine pollution and received over 600 concept proposals from a wide range of stakeholders including NGO, private sector, UN, academia and others. These three SIDS ocean innovations were selected for their transferable, replicable and scalable nature and potential to achieve maximum catalytic impact: 

In Cabo Verde, the innovators tackled a common challenge for SIDS: coastal eutrophication due to nutrient releases from poorly treated wastewater. Digital technologies will be used to help the country's wastewater treatment sector to optimize the biological removal and recovery of nutrients, recovery of nutrients for use as organic fertilizer and reduce wastewater treatment operating costs. 

In Comoros, innovative financial mechanisms for plastic waste recovery, resuse and recycling aim to reduce marine plastics waste while creating new economic opportunities for communities through the creation of plastic waste recovery and buy-back centers.

In the Maldives, a national Extended Producer Responsibility framework will help the country to close the loop on plastics waste to reduce ocean pollution and tackle the nearly 25,000 tons of plastic waste, and, due to poor waste management practices, as much as a third of which ends up in our coastal areas.
The Second Call for Proposals was launched this month seeking innovative solutions focused on sustainable fisheries. Apply here before 9 May 2021. 
Country Corner
Image: Fiji / Tom Vierus/ Coral Reef Image Bank
It is a well-known fact that SIDS possess rich biodiversityan essential feature for these nations since livelihood, tourism, and other marine industries can constitute over half of the GDP of small island economies. For example, Fiji is “home to 5% of the world’s total reef regeneration capacity,” and this has huge potential in boosting their blue economic growth. However, in recent years, Fiji has been experiencing extreme disasters such as Tropical Cyclone Winston that caused severe damage on land and underwater amounting to US$1.4 billion. Other anthropogenic activities such as overfishing, sedimentation and pollution due to poor land-use management have intense impacts on the health of coral reefs. On top of this, Fiji—exhibiting the vulnerabilities SIDS deal with—is also confronting the threats of climate change on coral reefs, such as thermal coral bleaching and ocean acidification. And these are the reasons why the Fijian government is scaling up in protecting its vital reefs: by stimulating impact investment. But what is impact investment and how could this help Fiji and other SIDS? Generally speaking, this mechanism is described to have the intention to tackle social and environmental challenges with the help of impact investors while expecting a financial return on the capital invested. Recently, the Fijian government celebrated the fact that its program proposal, ‘Investing in Coral Reefs and the Blue Economy,’ was among the four other proposals selected to receive financial support under the US$41 million of the United Nations Joint SDG Fund. This project aims to bring together three UN agencies and Fiji’s Ministry of Economy to create a blended finance facility and build capacity “to mobilize private and public investment capital to invest in private sector initiatives with a focus on the conservation and protection of coastal reefs and marine life ecosystems.” In the SIDS Offer, the potentials of blue economy are explored and SIDS may look into this financial model in propelling their blue growth if proven successful. This also proves that mobilizing “blue” financing like reef conservation projects are increasingly recognized. For instance, the UNDP’s Global Funds for Coral Reefs is a 10-year plan where $500 million worth of blended finance vehicle featuring public-private partnerships in supporting coral reef restoration through technical assistance, capacity development, and monitoring and evaluation. Check out how the GFCR works.
 
 
Image: Shutting/ Shutterstock

Small island developing states are consistently faced with the urgency of finding quick and scalable solutions as they are disproportionately vulnerable to the threats of climate change. But there is another aspect of inequality that SIDS face today: as the growth, productivity, and human development are increasingly interlinked with the digital economy, the digital divide is becoming more apparent—and this has the potential to impede development. As the third-largest archipelago in the South Pacific, comprising more than 990 islands separated by large ocean spaces, the Solomon Islands is confronted with the widening digital gap mainly caused by "distance, geography, lack of infrastructure, low availability and high cost of internet services." But the Solomon Islands is taking a huge step in closing the digital divide. As part of UNDP’s Digital Strategy 2019-2021 and enshrined in the Digital Transformation of the SIDS Offer, the government of the Solomon Islands and UNDP developed a pilot project in 2020 to build limitless access to information and communication technologies in the country. Initiatives such as improving infrastructure, purchasing and setting up radio antennas for selected remote locations to boost connectivity, generators for uninterrupted supply of power, essential technical equipment—including Zoom licenses are implemented. This has the potential to alleviate high operating costs the government shoulders due to unreliable internet connection which prompts them to allocate around SB$2.5 million just for the sole purpose of delivering information within the country. In addition to building digital infrastructure, local stakeholders are also introduced to digital literacy training. Forward-looking, this could even pave the way to bolster MSMEs and reimagine existing practices in local businesses whether these are directly or indirectly linked to tourism, which is currently materializing across the world in the Eastern Caribbean, benefitting 10 countries as they engage in “FUT-Tourism: Rethinking Tourism and MSMEs in times of COVID-19” project, which is also supported by UNDP. With all these undertakings, it is clearly visible that digital transformation is a powerful accelerator for inclusion, competitiveness and sustainability that must be strengthened across all SIDS.
 
Image: Kiribati / UNDP Climate

Nearly one-third of all citizens in SIDS live in areas no higher than a few meters above sea level. And with rising sea level, more severe extreme weather events, coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion, climate change is a matter of survival for many SIDS. These adverse effects of climate change risk inducing threats to human security such as displacement or forced migration, greater food and water insecurity, tension of access to resources and more. In February, the topic of climate and security was discussed at the UN Security Council where the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Gaston Browne, asked “what international plan and system would my country have recourse to, in the aftermath of such an attack to our peace and security?”. SIDS have on numerous previous occasions advocated for the recognition of the impact climate change will have on national and global peace and security. To support Pacific SIDS to address these challenges, UN in the Pacific has launched the Climate Security Project – a ground-breaking initiative in many ways, including as the first multi-country project of its kind in the region. Focusing particularly on Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, the initiative will empower these nations to address security threats of climate change and supporting Pacific SIDS to raise awareness of climate-security risks at a global level. Through an inclusive approach, consultations were recently held by the Government in Kiribati where representatives from disability, women, youth, health and local leaders' groups participated. During this consultation coastal erosion, water security and climate-related food security were identified as the most urgent priorities to be addressed. The work of this initiative will be vital as Pacific SIDS seek to take urgent action to avoid reaching tipping points of irreversible consequences.   
 
Submit a UNDP story to the Country Corner section
In the News
Image: Carl Salisbury/ Shutterstock
 
In 2018, FAO reported that 33.1% of the global fish stocks are overfished at unsustainable levels. This information is very alarming to SIDS as they rely on fisheries for livelihood and subsistence. With the recent pandemic, the fish sector suffered greatly with the closure of fish markets globally and trade is affected by border closures—affecting sales of fish products. However, the report published by FAO reveals that overfishing has increased to 34.2% biologically unsustainable levels, emphasizing “sustainability failures are complex and need tailored solutions.” Having said that, the report also highlighted the sustainability trend of some species like tuna where 7.9 million tons are sustainably fished in 2018 and even further increased by 10% in a matter of two years. This major shift in the tuna industry is on account of a successful scheme by eight Pacific countries which put sustainable fisheries and management at the front and center. Home of a quarter of the world’s tuna,—worth around US$6 billion—the central and western Pacific countries, specifically Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Federated  States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, formed the group Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). This agreement is regarded to be a global model in preventing overfishing and raising local income. The countries established a system called "Vessel Day Scheme" (VDS) which requires vessel owners to bid for the day they wanted to fish. The PNA CEO, Ludwig Kumoru stated “we sell opportunities to fish, not fish,” setting an overall Total Allowable Effort ­­(TAE) limit on the number of days fishing vessels can be licensed to fish in PNA EEZs. At present, some days are sold at approximately $12000. The VDS is advantageous in many ways: (1) raising the license fees could make a difference to the economies of participating countries, (2) this could reduce overfishing,—especially by foreign fleets—allowing the fish population to recover and small-scale fisheries to thrive, and (3) this could assist in ending illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. Further harnessing their resources and capacities, the PNA tuna fishery is certified as sustainable and well-managed to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard since 2012, which is highlighted in PNA’s brand canned tuna, Pacifical. “The PNA’s example shows that when financial and conservation goals coincide, even the unlikeliest players can score major victories.” Under the UNDP SIDS Offer's Blue Economy pillar, a series of initiatives have been financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support 14 Pacific Island countries in increasing the sustainable benefits derived from these fisheries. At present, the same Pacific Island countries will be the recipient of the Pacific Tuna Fisheries Management project worth US$10 million by GEF, starting its operations by early 2021. 
 
 
Image: Piet Niesen/ Shutterstock 

Caribbean SIDS urgently call to accelerate the mobilization of climate finance
 

With the Caribbean having gone through the hurricane season coupled with the economic downturn brought by COVID-19, it has become clear that scaling up adaptation strategies must be heavily integrated into the process of economic revitalization. In the Green Climate Fund’s portfolio, it is committed to allocating 50% of adaptation funding to particularly vulnerable countries, such as SIDS. For example, GCF supports Antigua and Barbuda in setting the foundation of financial and institutional mechanisms to facilitate debt for climate swaps—which “links debt relief to investment in sustainable development and green economy projects by providing fiscal space and relief to economies overburdened by public debt and debt serving costs.” In the meantime, the Fund’s presence in Barbados is felt through its water sector sustainability project in partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (5Cs). Also through GCF, Jamaica is able to establish its first-ever regional exchange for green bonds as a vehicle to fund climate-smart projects. Certainly, climate change affects all countries but it is clear that the impacts are not distributed evenly across the globe, and SIDS are getting the shorter end of the stick. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley reiterated the delays of the global community in their financing commitments under the Paris agreement and how climate refugees are every country’s responsibility. Despite being the least responsible for the climate crisis, SIDS are committed to boosting climate action while increasing their financial capacity. And all they ask from the rest of the world is one thing: to accelerate climate finance to foster a green and resilient recovery, which could also provide stronger socio-economic benefits. Through its SIDS Offer, UNDP supports SIDS in seeking to mobilize financing for development to unlock pathways for green recovery and sustainable futures. 

 
Resources
Image: WWF-Australia / Karen Kalpage

Small island developing states are endowed with vast marine resources, rich biodiversity, and panoramic views where they generally derive their economic and environmental well-being. However, to many SIDS, the importance of natural resources goes beyond the economy—as stewards of the oceans, they place aesthetic, spiritual, and cultural underpinning to their biodiversity. Such is the case for the Solomon Islands where its locally managed marine area (LMMA) network plays a big role in the effective management of their marine protected areas. However, the Solomon Islands was not always a paragon of environmental stewardship. Like many SIDS, this country faced challenges brought by overharvesting and mismanagement of its natural resources, but this was reversed when the LMMA was established in 2016. From their experience, diversification of livelihoods stood out to be an effective and critical step to venture out from high reliance on their exhausted resources to other small scale income-generating activities. “Only by introducing livelihoods to communities can we add value to the marine managed areas,” said Assaneth Buarafi, a fisheries officer of the Ministry of Fisheries in the Solomon Islands. Resorting solely to strict measures to address the mismanagement of resources "is a luxury of rich countries" since many SIDS rely on fisheries not just as a livelihood but as subsistence as well. Thus communities that are supported and well-informed about the approaches of proper natural resource management could secure substantial economic gains and improve their food security. This further encouraged the Solomon Islands to put almost 1.3 million km2 of marine territory within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under customary control, which also benefits critically endangered species. Traditional custodianship integrated into MPAs is also prominent in other SIDS such as Fiji which has committed to protecting 30% of its 1.2 million km2 of the ocean within its EEZ by 2030, while Cook Islands and New Caledonia placed nearly 2.5 million km2 of south Pacific Ocean as MPAs. The year 2021 is pivotal not only because of the COP26 but the global community is stepping at the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development where the importance of community-based resource management as an adaptation strategy is underlined in achieving the goal of reversing the decline in ocean’s health.
 
 
Image: UNCTAD "Trade and Environment Review 2021"
 
One-third of SIDS exports risk becoming significantly impacted by climate change in the future without significant investment in national adaptation planning. Agriculture, Fishing and tourism are among the most vulnerable sectors the adverse impacts of climate change. In SIDS, “agriculture, forestry and fisheries products” and “travel and transportation services” account for 35 % of exports, in comparison to 17 % and 24 % in developing country and LDCs respectively – demonstrating the vulnerability and level of risk exposure of they face to climate change. Challenges of maintaining export levels and employment levels will increase as the physical impacts of climate change exacerbate. UNCTAD’s “Trade and Environment Review 2021” addresses the issue of building greater trade resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, with a particular focus on SIDS. Aside from the physical impacts of climate change, the report highlights how mitigation efforts adopted at international level such as imposition of carbon taxes or ‘climate standards’ on imports will impact the trade of others. The review proposes opportunities for developing countries to enhance their “trade-climate readiness”. Among these include how fisheries-dependent countries – such as Pacific SIDS where fish exports represented more than 50 % of all exports in 2018 – can harness opportunities to diversify within the realm of the blue economy. The report suggests how rigorous assessments of the impact of climate change on trade flows can support SIDS national stakeholders to design policies, actions, and infrastructure responses that may enhance both trade and economic resilience in the coming decades.  
 
 
Image: Hung Tran/ Pexels

How can SIDS make waves toward a sustainable blue economy?

You might have already heard about the ‘Sustainable Blue Economy’. But what does this actually mean? A sustainable blue economy simultaneously promotes economic growth, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and the strengthening of ocean ecosystems, thus providing not just economic, but also social benefits to current and future generations. The blue economy is projected to increase its worth to US$3 trillion by 2030. Considering the fact that the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of SIDS represent approximately 30% of the world’s 50 largest EEZs,—exceeding their landmasses—these nations are ready to tap their vast marine living and non-living resources. Seeing the blue economy as a valid and lucrative approach, it is astounding to consider its low levels of funding: SDG 14 (Life Below Water) received the least public funding out of all the SDGs in 2017. For the banks, agencies, and organizations that do invest in the sustainable ocean economy, the European Commission, World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute, and the European Investment Bank launched the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles in 2018, which are the foundational keystones when investing in the ocean economy. The principles are headed by facets such as ‘Protective, Risk-aware, Inclusive, Precautionary, and Science-led’, that allow the financial industry to mainstream sustainability of ocean-based sectors. In addition, a guide was developed by UNEP for banks, insurers, investors on how to avoid and mitigate environmental and social risks and impacts. For this purpose, the guide breaks down the main sectors involved in the blue economy, differentiating between seafood, port, maritime transportation, marine renewable energy, and coastal and marine tourism. The financing schemes for each sector are then analyzed. For example, how much of that financing stems from official development assistance, what are ownership structures (public vs. private), what is the total revenue, and which are the financial products preferred (private equity, loans, bonds, etc.). The key environmental and social impacts and dependencies are assessed, as well as the relationships with other sectors. For instance, in the seafood sector, one of the main impacts is the contamination of surrounding water bodies through chemicals, anti-microbial and other harmful substances, and the sector can have adverse impacts on tourism and coastal protection if mangrove areas are cleared. The listing of pressures, impacts, and risks, facilitates the decision-making for investors whether to be associated e.g. with reputational damage or how to otherwise steer their investments into more sustainable options. Many SIDS could also turn to other banks and funds, such as the Global Environment Facility, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank which have entire divisions designated to monitor safeguards to address environmental and social risks in developing projects, taking into account matters such as biodiversity protection, gender equality, and indigenous peoples’ rights. Likewise, under the SIDS Offer, UNDP supports SIDS in realizing the potentials of their blue economies by providing technical, financial, and capacity building assistance.

The UNEP ‘Turning the Tide’ guide in financing a sustainable ocean recovery is a follow-up to the Rising the Tide report which mapped the ocean finance space and provided an entry point for financial institutions. 
 
Published by IRENA, this Roadmap details the steps the Government of Antigua and Barbuda could take in order to achieve 100% renewable energy, both in the power and transport sector by 2030 and 2040. With this goal in mind, the Roadmap also outlines policy recommendations for the implementation of the transition to a fossil-fuel-free economy. Read on to learn more about Antigua and Barbuda's green recovery!
 

Loss and damage – recognising the costs of climate change: Make Change Happen podcast episode 10 

The term "loss and damage" is a famous term in the climate change community because it pertains to irreversible harms that go unnoticed. Listen to this podcast by IIED and learn the reasons why loss and damage should get more attention among leaders of high-emitting countries and what actions the international community must take.

 
Women in Fisheries is published by the Pacific Community which tackles many issues that have been making the big headlines in recent months, topics such as COVID-19, Tropical Cyclone Harold that ravaged many Pacific communities, and even the recent oil spill in Mauritius. This information bulletin encourages readers to wear a gender lens when scrutinizing the aforementioned issues and climate change in general. 
 

Two activists are transforming the political climate of Vanuatu with their commitment to eradicate the absence of women in the country's parliament. Produced by UN-OHRLLS, listen to the Island Voices podcast and learn the importance of bringing more women into politics and how this could improve the leadership and decision-making in the country.
 
Produced bi-weekly by Island Innovation, this series critically assesses the performance of specific islands around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also sheds light on the recovery path these countries plan to take to promote long-term resilience and sustainability. 
Upcoming Opportunities and Events
Inviting panellists specializing in seabed mining, ocean policy and governance, and sustainability of oceans, this events aims to explain legal, institutional, financial, and wider societal challenges the International Seabed Authority (ISA) experience with regard to governing the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction and its marine resources.

When: March 18, 10 AM-11 AM (EST)

REGISTER 
UNCTAD, CITES, OECS, and the BioTrade Initiative collaborate in this webinar that seeks to raise awareness among key OECS stakeholders about the Blue BioTrade. In addition, the 2020 BioTrade Principles and Criteria, and the applicable CITES requirements and decisions will be tackled during the webinar. The webinar host/s will also explain the required information and inputs needed from stakeholders to elaborate value chain assessments in the beneficiary countries. 

When: March 22-23, 9 AM (EST)

REGISTER
 
With the theme #TurnItAround, the SDG Global Festival of Action is going full virtual to spark debate and inspire action across these four cross-cutting areas: climate action, gender equality, inclusive systems and sustainable finance, and poverty and inequality. The event will be composed of knowledge sharing activities, ideation and upskilling, networking, and many more. Check out the official website to learn more!
When: March 25-26, 2021
REGISTER
The Global Water Partnership brings a symposium that will address existing issues confronting the Caribbean region's water sector such as storage, treatment and distribution of available water resources. This will also serve as a space to share ongoing research, innovations, and best practices related to enhancing water security and Integrated Water Resource Management in the Caribbean.

When: March 23rd – 25th, 2021
REGISTER
 
Do you have any green innovative solution up your sleeve? The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (GEF SGP) and UNDP Acceleration Lab announced the 'Green Innovation Challenge,' to upscale selected innovative projects focusing on climate-smart agriculture, air, water or soil quality, energy efficiency, or any similar issues. Concepts that are short-listed will be coached in drafting grant proposals for funding ranging from USD 5,000 to USD 50,000 from the GEF SGP Accelerator Lab Innovation Challenge. Small enterprises and individuals are eligible for a maximum of USD 10,000.
Deadline: March 25-26, 2021
Learn more and Apply here
 
Do you have any innovative ideas focusing on the theme, 'Sustainable Fisheries,' specifically SDG targets 14.4, 14.7, 14.b? Then make sure the 'Ocean Innovation Challenge' does not miss it! Project proponents are allowed to include governments, private companies (even start-ups!), NGO/CSO, UN entities, academic institutions, and intergovernmental organizations. Submit your preliminary proposal online on or before May 9, 2021 23:59 CET. If successful, applicants shortlisted will need to submit a more detailed proposal and by late 2021, UNDP's final 2021 Ocean Innovators will be announced. 
Learn more and apply here
 

Island Finance Forum 2021 

This virtual event will give the audience a clear idea of the unique financial challenges faced by global island communities. The Island Finance Forum 2021 will also share solutions for sustainable economic recovery and discuss how inclusive growth in a post-pandemic world could be achieved. The forum aims to: (1) bridge the gap between sustainable development practitioners and financial stakeholders; (2) help island stakeholders access expert knowledge and financial opportunities available to them; (3) showcase the economic opportunities available from investing in the sustainability sector on islands--such as impact investing and ESG. 

When: April 13-16, 2021

Register
 

Istanbul Innovation Days 2021 is an event not about what development is, but what it could be. the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly triggered new thinking, pushing development as a paradigm and sector. For SIDS, the socio-economic shocks have highlighted to the global community the need to fundamentally rethink a lot of past practices. The IID2021 will explore questions with the objective of unlocking new pathways.  To do this, we need to address the legacies of our pastexplore the edges of the present, and accelerate the progress towards a plurality of futures. IID will consist of 30 curated experiences over the period of 8 weeks, with the main event culminating on March 23-25. 

Learn more and register here

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