UNDP SIDS Bulletin | Issue 40

Rowely Parico • 10 June 2021

Issue 40 | June 2021

This week, the UN Secretary-General welcomed the election on Monday of H.E. Abdulla Shahid, Foreign Minister of the Maldives, as President-elect of the 76th session of the General Assembly. In a media statement, the President-elect delivered a message of hope, reiterating the importance of partnerships and rescuing the planet. He listed five priorities for his term: (1) recovering from COVID-19, which calls for equitable access to vaccines; (2) rebuilding sustainably; (3) responding to the needs of our planet; (4) respecting the rights of all; (5) revitalizing the United Nations. 

This week, we also celebrated  World Oceans Day 2021 and the kick-off of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, these occasions remind us of the economic, social and cultural significance of our oceans.  For SIDS as Large Ocean States, this holds particularly true. As stewards of ocean conservation and frontrunners of ambitious climate action, SIDS continue to show leadership in amplifying global action. In a recent demonstration of this, Ambassador Walton Alfonso Webson of Antigua and Barbuda, AOSIS Chair, is leading a coalition of 76 states to call for the Oceans Day Plastic Pollution Declaration, a new, legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution. Learn more below. Explore the 40th issue of the SIDS bulletin to learn how SIDS are harnessing the opportunities of the Blue Economy for an inclusive, green recovery and more!


Keywords:  ecosystem restoration, sustainable development, biodiversity, blue economy, climate action, ocean protection, nature, livelihoods, MSMEs, adaptation, mitigation, nature-based solutions, plastic pollution

SIDS urge the global community to come together to address the biggest challenge of the oceans

The ocean is a great regulator of our planet and vital to the economic survival of many communities around the world. On top of this, it is home to the most extensive biodiversity on earth and is the main source of protein for over 1 billion people around the world. As custodians of 19.1% of the world's EEZs, SIDS hold a strong bond with the ocean. Their culture, food supply, livelihoods, and general way of life are intimately tied to the ocean. In this video, Ambassador Walton Alfonso Webson of Antigua and Barbuda, AOSIS Chair urgently calls the global community to come together and save our oceans, save ourselves. 

This video is part of AOSIS' campaign "Oceans Day 2021 – Messages from Custodians of the Ocean." Watch the rest of the messages here.  
Country Corner

BlueDIGITAL to redesign MSME's traditional model and bridge the digital divide for bluer and greener future

While many SIDS have been managing the health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are facing severe economic and social challenges. In 2020, their GDP dropped by 6.9% versus 4.8% in all other developing countries. This was especially caused by the sharp decline in tourism, an industry that generates approximately US$30 billion per year across SIDS. These challenges have forced those living and working in SIDS to rethink ways of living and conducting business, while many SIDS governments have looked towards the Blue Economy paradigm as a pathway to unlock new, sustainable economic opportunities – to kickstart green recovery, cultivate diversification and uild resilience to future shocks.  In the Eastern Caribbean, a stakeholder consultation led by the UNDP Accelerator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean revealed one key trend: COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for change among Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs). For example, it drove many small-scale fisherfolks to turn towards tools such as WhatsApp to support their business practices.. Considering this, UNDP is piloting the BlueDIGITAL app, a tool to provide digitally-enabled solutions offering specific services through four portals to four key groups of stakeholders in the Blue Economy ecosystem and related value chains. The Blue Economy and Digital Transformation are core pillars of UNDP's SIDS Offer and the COVID-19 Response Programme in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean with the motto, "Blue Economy for Green Islands." The BlueDIGITAL initiative not only embodies this motto, it aims to bridge digital divides exposed by the pandemic. The initiative will be piloted in Barbados but aims to expanded into additional Eastern Caribbean islands where Blue Economy priorities are present. 

To discover more innovations and approaches to ocean and coastal restoration, and protection that sustains livelihoods and advances the 'blue economy,' visit the UNDP's Ocean Innovations Challenge website.
Image: Ocean Image Bank
Building back bluer: How blue financing can sustain community-led marine conservation in Fiji 

Before the pandemic, tourism contributed nearly 40% to Fiji's GDP but as the visitor arrivals fell by 84% and fisheries decreased, the economy dived by 19% in 2020. The marine sectors may have been shaken but the ocean still offers a huge potential to Pacific island states. The Blue Economy is understood as the sustainable use of ocean resources that can contribute to economic growth, job creation, and inclusion of segments of the population that are left behind. The Pacific Ocean provides great economic value, for instance, Pacific Ocean-based fishing and tourism provide US$3.3 billion to the national economics of Pacific countries and territories. With 11.5 million inhabitants in the Pacific SIDS, managing more than 19 million km2 of EEZ and vast marine resources, sustainably managing and preserving this space is strategically executed through customary resource tenure and local governance. In this way, local communities meaningfully participate or lead in the management of their resources. First recognized in Fiji, locally-managed marine areas (LMMAs) are expanded not only in the Pacific region but also worldwide. Currently, more than 500 communities are managing 12,000 km2 of coastal resources across the Pacific. Community-based resource management benefits from the local traditional knowledge and awareness of local communities and results in better acceptance than a top-down approach. As one example, in Fiji, the first marine reserve called the 'Shark Reef Marine Reserve' was under the threat of overfishing and so local communities relinquished their fishing rights in exchange for a ‘Shark Reef Marine Reserve Levy’ of FJ$20 paid by each diver, providing a steady cash flow to the villagers. This initiative resulted in a healthier marine environment with higher fishing yields in the Marine Reserve. However, marine reserves and locally managed marine areas are still facing financial barriers that prevent the required expansion, replication, and resilience. That is why Fiji partnered with three UN agencies to address such structural issues through the ‘Investing in Coral Reefs and Blue Economy’ Project. The initiative aims to support economic diversification and marine conservation and is expected to create more than 100 jobs and sustain the incomes and food security of more than 6,000 fisher households.  

Image: Ocean Image Bank

Pursuing decisive and collaborative climate action is key in addressing ocean-driven security challenges in the Pacific 

More than three billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. As Large Ocean States, oceans are of particular economic, social, cultural importance to these countries. In the Pacific region, for instance, 98% of its area is ocean. But how are the oceans connected to the stability and security dynamics in the Pacific? Here are five key ocean-drive security challenges in the Pacific: first, sea-level rise causes coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion which negatively affect coastal communities in the Pacific, leads to a loss of land and contraction of their EEZs, and threatens their very existence. Secondly, higher ocean temperatures supercharge the extreme weather events and degrades coastal marine ecosystems,contributing to the climate emergency. Acidification due to global warming is the third challenge, which destroys marine ecosystems and undermines coastal communities' livelihoods and food security. Fourth are climate-related disasters, an increase in frequency and intensity of which are caused by the combination of global warming, higher ocean temperatures, and rising sea levels. Overfishing is the fifth challenge,it negatively affects the entire ecosystem. Many SIDS depend on the fishing industry for their livelihood. And when fish disappear, so do jobs and coastal economies. As a way to address the previously mentioned ocean-driven and climate security in the Pacific, UNDP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are spearheading the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF)-funded Climate Security in the Pacific initiative to pursue decisive climate actions to build resilience and secure a sustainable future. This initiative is focusing on empowering low-lying atoll nations, in particular Tuvalu, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Kiribati. The initiative helps strengthen the capacities of governments to manage climate-related security risks, supporting the coastal and indigenous communities that depends on the ocean and its ecosystem services, including fisheries, recreation, tourism, and transport sectors. 


In 2019, the Bahamas was pummeled by category five Hurricane Dorian – causing approximately US$ 3.4 billion in damage which is equal to one-quarter of the country’s GDP. The hurricane had devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods. Committed to a resilient recovery based on ‘Building Back Better,’ the Government led a surge team days after the storm and efforts to craft UNDP’s crisis prevention and recovery intervention. With a clear goal of minimizing disruption for its citizens if faced with future disasters, the Bahamas aimed at: (1) sustainable and resilient construction methods; (2) emergency employment for environmental clean-ups; (3) long-term resilient recovery plans; and (4) build back better know-how. As a critical part of the initial response, UNDP and partners supported employment of UNDP’s Housing and Building Damage Assessment (HBDA), a mobile app which has allowed the Ministry of Public Works (MOPW) assess 5,276 structures, generating quality data to inform resilient recovery plans. As part of its resilience 'architecture', the country has also put in place the policy framework for the government to prepare, respond and recover from disaster, and a road map for the institutional development of the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction. On top of these plans and assessments, the Bahamas and UNDP deployed the Caribbean's first door-to-door mobile technical advisory centers (TACs), offering home repair advisory services, seeking to get valuable ‘build better’ knowledge into the hands of the people to set foundations for a culture shift. The TACs conducted 309 home assessments. With key plans, policies and need assessments in place, the Bahamas is establishing a solid foundation on which to construct a resilient, risk informed economy – one capable of withstanding crisis and able to rebound more quickly than in the past. 

Submit a UNDP story to the Country Corner section
Share your ideas in our e-discussion about Future Tourism (FUT-Tourism): Rethinking Tourism in times of COVID-19 in the Eastern Caribbean
In the News
Image: Shaun Wolfe/ Ocean Image Bank

Why fostering ocean science is critical in securing a sustainable ocean future in Pacific SIDS

This week, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development kicked off with the First International Ocean Decade Conference. Through this launch, the global community jumpstarted momentum for significant progress in ocean action in 2021 with focus on ocean science as its foundation. “The Pacific region has some of the lowest capacity in ocean science in the world,” stated by Dr. Stuart Minchin, Director of the Pacific Community (SPC). He called for global support in areas of capacity-building to make sure "the knowledge is embedded within the governments in the region" and to strengthen collaboration between Pacific SIDS.  

Alongside the Ocean Decade conference, over a hundred participants from 22 Pacific island countries and territories met at the 13th SPC Heads of Fisheries meeting. In this meeting, stakeholders in the fisheries sector discussed emerging priorities for fisheries and aquaculture in the region for the coming years, such as enhancing scientific knowledge and technical tools. Moreover, stakeholders stressed the importance of digital transformation in the monitoring and reporting techniques  for both oceanic and coastal fisheries. An example of this can be seen, for instance, in this recently published study about the Underwater Detector of Moving Object Size (UDMOS), a "cost-effective computer vision system that records events of large fishes passing in front of a camera to monitor the size of key indicator species of fish." This technology aims to understand ecosystem functions, anthropogenic stress, and population dynamics.  

During the meeting, the proposed Pacific framework for action on scaling up community-based fisheries management (CBFM) was also discussed and endorsed.  

Access the Outcomes of the Thirteenth SPC Heads of Fisheries meeting here.

Image: Seychelles/ UNDP Ecosystems and Biodiversity 

Indigenous peoples and local communities are stewards of 21% of the world's land surface, yet their rights remain threatened

As the Earth's biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates, and ecosystems are rapidly degrading - a great deal remains to be done. an important way to achieve our biodiversity goals is to place people at the heart of adaptation and mitigation strategies and solutions, recognizing the cultural and territorial rights of Indigenous and local communities. Many SIDS are inhabited by indigenous peoples who have been the custodians of the land and its coasts for centuries, living harmoniously with their natural surroundings; and research has demonstrated that biodiversity thrives where these communities have control of the land and forests. According to a new report by the Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCA) Consortium, indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) actively conserve at least 21% of the world’s land surface, which in turn harbors 80% of the world's biodiversity. Local cultural practices and unique governance systems are acknowledged to be the main reasons conservation is successful in the areas managed by IPLCs. The knowledge of indigenous peoples is recognized as a good foundation for decision-making as it embodies respect and balance as well as a focus on elements of significance for local livelihoods, security, and well-being — making it essential for climate change adaptation. Furthermore, a report produced by the FAO shows that securing the land rights of IPLCs is the most cost-effective way of cutting down carbon emissions. Unfortunately, weak or nonexistent implementation of legislation is a global and systemic issue, hindering IPLCs in exercising their rights on their lands and territories. While the global support for #GenerationRestoration has been remarkable, and with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Conference (COP15)  just around the corner, there is still a need to stress the importance of human rights in the post-2020 framework. The international community is set to sign the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework during COP15, which will replace the previous Aichi targets, signed in Japan in 2010. 


A total investment in nature of US$8.1 trillion is required by 2050, how can we achieve this goal?

As we step into the Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals- arguably the most important decade of our time- ramping up climate action must coincide with mobilizing significant financial resources. More precisely, the world needs to invest a total of  US$ 8.1 trillion between now and 2050 in nature, according to the recently published “State of Finance for Nature” report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative in collaboration with Vivid Economics.–This means that annual investment must reach US$ 536 billion by 2050 to address the nexus of climate, biodiversity, and land degradation crises. This also means that the world’s current investment in  nature must triple by 2030. This may seem like a large investment, but it accounts for for just 2.5 of projected COVID-19 economic recovery spending globally, further strengthening the call for a green recovery and building back better by including biodiversity and climate measures in the pandemic stimulus packages of governments. 

To overcome the financing gap, stakeholders must put nature at the core of economic decision-making by applying the suggested strategies, such as capital flows to nature-based solutions and incorporating investments in restoration action with financing conservation measures (e.g. agroforestry areas). In this context, several private sector-led initiatives have now emerged to boost ambitious investment in nature-based solutions. For instance, the UNDP-led Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) is a blended-finance vehicle to fund innovative and revenue-generating initiatives that strengthen the resilience of both coral reefs and the communities that depend on them. This is especially relevant or SIDS, as the first of round of funding approved by the GFCR includes a USD $4.7M proposal led by the UN Fiji Country Office.

Image: Seychelles/ UNDP Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Committing to the #GenerationRestoration movement to avert climate catastrophe 

The Earth's ecosystem is rapidly approaching "the point of no return,” stated by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. He added that, “science tells us these next 10 years are our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution, and end species loss.” Humans exhaust 1.6 times the amount of ecosystem services nature can sustainably provide. Conservation efforts alone are not enough to prevent large-scale ecosystem collapse and biodiversity loss. With many of our ecosystems ruined beyond unassisted self-recovery, how can we reverse the damage we have done to secure a better future for all? The United Nations Environment Programme recently published a synthesis report as a call to action for anyone and everyone to join the #GenerationRestoration movement to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. But what does ecosystem restoration exactly mean? Ecosystem restoration is the process of halting and overturning degradation, resulting in cleaner air and water, extreme weather mitigation, better human health, and recovered biodiversity, including improved pollination of plants. Covering various ecosystems requiring urgent restoration and , the report explores a wide spectrum of methods, from reforestation re-wetting peatlands and coral rehabilitation. On top of environmental benefits, restoration also provide social and economic benefits. For instance, while global terrestrial restoration costs are estimated to be at least US$ 200 billion per year by 2030, the report highlights that every US$1 invested in restoration creates up to US$30 in economic benefits. Furthermore, UN Secretary-General Guterres reiterated that ecosystem restoration can create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over $7 trillion every year, and help eliminate poverty and hunger. Such efforts may also help avoid 60 percent of expected biodiversity extinctions and increase food security for 1.3 billion people. These are only some of the benefits restoration can bring to humanity, but to realize these necessitates taking action now and working collectively. As part of its SIDS Offer - Rising Up for SIDS - UNDP supports SIDS' in restoring their important marine and terrestrial ecosystems through projects such as the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and the Ridge-to-Reef Programme

Read the press release here

The Value of Coral Reefs: Mobilizing action #ForCoral can deliver benefits of US$2.7 trillion

Recent global assessments show coral reefs to be on a catastrophic trajectory. Almost half of the world's living coral has been lost since 1870 and these losses are accelerating. In  light of global population growth forecasts, increasing consumption rates, and global climate change scenarios, the direct and indirect pressures on coral reefs will continue to increase up to 2050 and beyond.  

For SIDS, coral reefs are central to the identity, culture, and economies. For instance, Fiji is “home to 5% of the world’s total reef regeneration capacity”, and the prospect of losing the reefs and their associated ecosystems has devastating consequences. That is why the Fijian government, in collaboration with three UN agencies, is stimulating impact investment to protect its vital reefs under the program proposal ‘Investing in Coral Reefs and the Blue Economy.' This initiative aims 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.” The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) being negotiated under the Convention on Biological Diversity, provides a unique opportunity to take coordinated action at a critical time to bring this ecosystem back from the brink. Moreover, in this context, the International Coral Reef Initiative brings together countries, organizations, and major stakeholder groups with the aim to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems. In 2020, ICRI adopted a consensus recommendation calling for coral reefs to be a priority within the new GBF. This includes a call for the inclusion of a suite of coral reef-related indicators that provide a framework for implementation and hold all parties accountable to the ambitions set. 


ICRI is working through many channels in support of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to safeguard our coral reef ecosystems and those who depend on it. Find more information at coralpost2020.org, and follow #ForCoral on Twitter.

UNDP Blue Economy Accelerator Lab's Blue Tank Challenge!

This 5-part social series, focusing on the theme of Life & Livelihoods, showcases the 4 innovators of the UNDP Blue Economy Accelerator's Blue Tank Challenge. Watch to learn about the unique experiments in waste management, fisheries, renewable energy and maritime monitoring and surveillance. Watch the rest of videos here.

Are litter, plastic and microplastic quantities increasing in the ocean? 

The authors compiled scientific literature on trends in marine litter, consisting largely of plastic and microplastics in the ocean, understanding that monitoring programs or assessments for these aspects are varied, frequently focusing on limited components of the marine environment in different locations, and covering a wide spectrum of marine litter types, with limited standardization. The discussion focuses on how trends in the amounts of litter in the marine environment can be compared with the information provided by models.


 Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development: Getting Smarter Together

The Sustainable Development Goals demand financial resources, and they equally require the mobilization of intelligence. This publication series is a call to make it standard practice to channel the innovations, knowledge and contributions of people across the globe, to get serious about the move toward real time data, and to find responsible ways of using artificial intelligence to elevate human intelligence. If we want to put this planet on a more sustainable & equitable path, we need to get smarter together. 


UNDP Blue Economy Accelerator Lab's Blue Voice Podcast

“Blue Voice” is a multi-part series that is hosted by the Head of the Blue Accelerator Lab Nikola Simpson. Focusing on varying subjects in the Blue Economy, the podcast series includes an introduction to the sector, the role of fishing communities, the impact of youth and women and the Blue New Normal. In this, a wide variety of diverse guests are featured, including students and a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Barbados. One episode is currently being released per week on Thursdays via the UNDP Barbados Twitter page.


World Climate and Security Report 2021

Published by the the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), this report details the compound security threats posed by the convergence of climate change with other global risks, such as COVID-19. The authors also call on security institutions around the globe to act as “leading voices urging significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, given recent warnings about the catastrophic security implications of climate change under plausible climate scenarios.”

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

Apply for SeyCCAT's Blue Grants Fund 5!

The Blue Grants Fund offers grants to impactful Seychellois-led projects that advance marine conservations, sustainable fisheries, development of new and existing MPAs, and select other blue sectors. Alongside the Blue Investment Fund managed by the Development Bank of Seychelles, the BGF is a part of the Seychelles’ Blue Finance approach. The deadline of the call for proposals is June 11, 2021
Learn more and apply here

Nominate the next recipient of the Secretary-General's Award for Excellence in Deep-Sea Research!

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) launched the Secretary-General’s Award for Deep-Sea Research Excellence which recognizes and encourages the achievements of young researchers from developing countries who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge of the deep-sea environment, or to the development of environmentally sustainable regulatory frameworks. Nominations and applications must be supported by two sponsors and should be sent to sgaward@isa.org.jm no later than July 15, 2021. The name of the awardee will be announced on July 24, 2021.

Learn more and apply here

Nominate the next grantee of the 2021 Pathfinder Award!

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are accepting nominations for the 2021 Pathfinder Award. This award seeks initiatives focused on sites with innovative, integrated approaches to protected and conserved area management that successfully conserve nature while making development gains related to 1) human health, 2) climate change mitigation and adaptation, and 3) sustainable land management. Four award winners will receive a financial grant of US$ 10,000 and a plaque and certificate of achievement, promotion and visibility, and an invitation to the awards ceremonies. All eligible solutions will be published on the PANORAMA – Solutions for a Healthy Planet web platform and be promoted further through the PANORAMA initiative. The call accepts nominations in English, French, and Spanish. The deadline of the nomination is July 15, 2021

Learn more and apply here

Submit your project for the GTI Awards 2021!

Greening the Islands (GTI) launches the 7th edition of GTI Awards, which aims to gather good practices and innovations on islands to give them public visibility globally and foster their replication. The GTI Awards will recognize the best projects on energy, water, mobility, waste, agriculture, sustainable tourism, and governance & inclusion. Submission is open until October 1, 2021.

Learn more and apply here

FUTURE TOURISM – Regional Dialogue IV: A value chain approach for inclusive and sustainable recovery of tourism

After the first three UNDP Future Tourism Regional Dialogues (recording available here & here), the next dialogue will focus on a value chain approach for inclusive and sustainable recovery of tourism. This event will be broadcasted via UWItv and live-streamed on UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Facebook page

When: June 10, 9 AM (AST) 

This HL panel discussion, held on the margins of the UN World Oceans Day provides a platform for exchange on some of the key challenges and opportunities to help identify priority areas for accelerated policy action and inform related intergovernmental processes,  particularly  UNCTAD15 and the 2nd UN Ocean Conference in 2021.

When: June 9, 2PM-4:30 PM (CEST) 
This three-day global forum will bring together data scientists, analysts and researchers from marine research institutions and universities around the world to share their knowledge, skills and innovative ideas and discuss ways AI could help promote the use of knowledge to improve marine ecosystems management.

When: June 28-30


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