Ocean Action Hub

Resource title


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.

Resource title

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

Resource title

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)

Resource title

Marine Biodiversity Conservation in the Tun Mustapha Park, Sabah

In March 2003, the Government of Sabah announced its approval of the proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), a marine area covering 1.02 million hectares in the northern part of Sabah.

The marine protected area (MPA) was previously known as the Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area, and is one of the priority areas identified under the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME) as being globally significant for its high biodiversity and rich natural resources. Geographically, the area is located within the Coral Triangle and is home to some of the richest marine flora and fauna complexes in the world (WWF-Malaysia, 2011).

This is a strategic project supported by the UNDP implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). The project is implemented by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in Malaysia (WWF Malaysia) aiming to scale up interventions for marine biodiversity conservation in Tun Mustapha Park. The project includes the following four components for community based marine biodiversity conservation: 1) building capacity and empowering local communities and stakeholders to conduct patrolling and collaborative enforcement, 2) promoting environmental stewardship, 3) developing conservation enterprises linked to resource management, 4) building capacity for the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. (WWF, 2014)

To promote capacity development and community empowerment, a series of community consultations have been undertaken. Community members have also received training in reef assessment and monitoring. To patrol the park, in order to enforce lawful use, the project collaborated with local government enforcement agencies and local communities in establishing regular joint patrolling activities. The project also hosted session to share the experiences and lessons learned by the community groups, and discussed strategies to ensure the sustainable management of the park. To promote environmental stewardship, the project focused on raising awareness among youth groups on the merits of sustainable marine management. In terms conservation enterprises, the communities decided to further develop sustainable sea cucumber production, mangrove conservation for ecotourism, and traditional natural farming as alternative livelihood activities. In fisheries management, the project has focused on capacity development for the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Training materials were developed and training was conducted with participants from the local communities.

 Download Full Case Study.pdf (625.45 KB)