Ocean Action Hub

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Ocean Conservation Is an Untapped Strategy for Fighting Climate Change

12 Jul 2018 - The ocean contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the global economy and assures the livelihood of 10-12 percent of the world’s population. But there’s another reason to protect marine ecosystems—they’re crucial for curbing climate change.

12 Jul 2018 - The ocean contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the global economy and assures the livelihood of 10-12 percent of the world’s population. But there’s another reason to protect marine ecosystems—they’re crucial for curbing climate change.

2018: A Year for the Ocean and Climate Action

This year is shaping up to be a critical one for ocean action. The 53 member countries of the Commonwealth adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter on Ocean Action earlier this year, a plan to protect coral reefs, restore mangroves and remove plastic pollution, among other actions.

Ocean conservation was a centerpiece of the G7 meeting resulting in the ‘Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Communities’ which commits the G7 to supporting better adaptation planning, emergency preparedness and recovery; support innovative financing for coastal resilience; and launch a joint G7 initiative to deploy Earth observation technologies and related applications to scale up capacities for integrated coastal zone management.

In addition, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the European Union agreed to tackle ocean plastic in the ‘Ocean Plastics Charter.’ Such action lays important groundwork for substantial negotiations for the first ever international treaty for conservation of the high seas to begin in September. The negotiations will last 2 years, culminating in 2020. The high seas cover nearly half the planet and are filled with marine life, from fish to plankton that are crucial to generating oxygen and regulating the global climate.

Approximately 40 percent of all CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels is absorbed by the ocean. The new treaty will be negotiated under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, joining other agreements that govern sea bed mining and highly migratory fish stocks. It has been dubbed the “Paris Agreement for the Ocean”, potentially enabling the creation of large marine protected areas in the high seas that have long been called for as crucial to curbing the decline of global fish stocks and other marine life.

Speaking of the Paris Agreement, this year is also a turning point for international climate action. The first stocktake of progress under the Paris Agreement on climate change, known as the Talanoa Dialogue, is currently underway, and is expected to highlight tangible opportunities for countries to further advance climate action. Countries are also expected to agree later this year on a rulebook for implementing the Paris Agreement.

The ocean and coastal ecosystems provide an untapped, nature-based climate solution that needs to be part of both conversations.

The Ocean as a Climate Solution

“Blue carbon” ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass meadows and kelp forests are 10 times more effective at sequestering carbon dioxide on a per area basis per year than boreal, temperate, or tropical forests and about twice as effective at storing carbon in their soil and biomass. They also play a crucial role in protecting coastal infrastructure and communities from climate impacts, including extreme weather events.

  • Mangroves are found in 123 countries and territories and are estimated to cover more than 150,000 square kilometres globally. Mangroves buffer coastal communities from wind and waves, acting as a frontline defense against storms and sea level rise.
  • If the world halted just half of annual coastal wetlands loss, it would reduce emissions by 0.23 gigatonnes, Spain’s total annual emissions in 2013.
  • Restoring coastal wetlands to their 1990 extent would increase annual carbon sequestration by 160 megatonnes a year, equivalent to offsetting the burning of 77.4 million tonnes of coal.

National Climate Commitments: An Opportunity to Advance Action on Climate and the Ocean

Commitments made by countries to advance climate action in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement are a vehicle to advance action on both agendas. Known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the ocean and coastal ecosystems are currently underrepresented in these commitments.

There are a number of policy options for incorporating blue carbon ecosystems into NDCs. These include:

  • Creating or protecting blue carbon ecosystems (including through Marine Protected Areas). This includes establishing buffer zones to reduce impacts from adjacent land-use and allowing mangroves to migrate inland in response to sea level rise.
  • Reforesting or rehabilitating degraded blue carbon ecosystems.
  • Introducing incentives to create new or protect existing blue carbon ecosystems on privately owned land, including through access to carbon markets.
  • Ensuring the mitigation potential of blue carbon ecosystems is included in national greenhouse gas inventories.

Recognizing the Blue Carbon Economy

Of course, curbing climate change isn’t the only reason to invest in ocean and coastal ecosystem protection. Coastal ecosystems can also but the resilience of coastal communities to natural hazards—including storms (mangroves absorb the energy of storm-driven waves and wind), flooding, erosion and fire. Wetlands provide nurseries for the many species of fish that support economies and improve food security. And marine protected areas can also protect biodiversity.

Fighting climate change is just yet another benefit the ocean provides us. It’s time to start recognizing its protection as a climate change solution.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/ocean-conservation-untapped-strategy-figh...

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Harnessing the Blue Economy Must Consider Social Inclusion and Responsible Stewardship

30 May 2018 - In line with SDG 14, development of Blue Economy sector must also promote social inclusion while ensuring environmental sustainability.

30 May 2018 - In April 2018, Commonwealth leaders met in a retreat at a royal residence in the English county of Berkshire and agreed on strategies to deepen trade in their 53-member organisation, improve security, tackle climate change, and work together for the betterment of the lives of the people of the Commonwealth.

During the Commonwealth Summit, Kenya received support for its plan to host a High Level Sustainable Blue Economy Conference scheduled to take place from 26-28th November 2018 in Nairobi. Under the theme Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the conference presents an opportune moment for advancing global conversation on both the productive and sustainable side of the blue economy.The conference will lay the case for a sustainable exploitation of the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the economic empowerment of all communities.

Canada stepped forward as a co-host during bilateral talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Lancaster House, London, on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting. “Our meeting gives us an opportunity to speak about the great relationship between Kenya and Canada. Canada is pleased with the excellent conference on the blue economy you are hosting and is ready to partner with you,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Kenya welcomes other countries to join this important initiative as co-hosts. Kenya also welcomes partnerships from governments, academia, private sector, international organizations, political and thought leaders from around the world to share ideas, experience and knowledge on how countries can implement Blue Economy action plans in their countries.

Africa’s economies have continued to post remarkable growth rates, largely driven by the richness of its land-based natural resources. Yet even though 38 of the continent’s 54 states are coastal and 90% of its trade is sea-borne, Africa’s blue potential remains largely untapped. The African Great Lakes constitute the largest proportion of surface freshwater in the world and it is easy to see why the African Union refers to the Blue Economy as the “New Frontier of African Renaissance”.

The potential of the blue economy in Africa is largely unexploited due to uneven focus on land as the most important factor of production. While Africa is endowed with large water bodies, the communities living in close proximity to such lakes, seas and oceans in the continent are among the poorest in the region. The realization of the limitations presented by land as a factor of production in the continent, especially in view of climate change, has necessitated governments and other stakeholders to focus on the immense potential for growth presented by the water resources.

A good illustration of Africa’s maritime resources potential is the island nation of Mauritius, one of the smallest countries in the world, which has territorial waters the size of South Africa but has one of the strongest blue economies in Africa, ranking 3rd in per capita income in 2015.

Ironically, the narrative on the continent’s maritime space has for long veered towards the bad news on illegal harvesting, degradation, depletion and maritime insecurity. This narrative is changing gradually, with recent initiatives indicating that countries are looking at full exploitation and management of Africa’s Blue Economy as a potential source of wealth for the continent’s growing population. With forecasts placing the value of maritime-related activities at 2.5 trillion euros per year by 2020, the continent’s hidden treasure could catapult its fortunes.

Kenya is one of several African countries that are formulating strategies to mainstream the Blue Economy in national development plans. Broadly the sub-sectors of the blue economy in Kenya include fisheries & aquaculture, maritime transport & logistics services, extractive industries which include offshore mining of gas & oil, titanium, rare earth (niobium), and culture, tourism and leisure & lifestyle. In the past the country has largely focused on fisheries both for domestic and export markets – a sector that accounts for only about 0.5 per cent of GDP – yet Kenya has a maritime territory of 230,000 square kilometres and 200 nautical miles offshore.

The groundwork for regulatory and policy changes has started, with the Fisheries Management and Development Act 2016 and establishment of the Blue Economy Implementation Committee indicating the government’s intention to utilize its marine resources for economic growth while conserving the same for future generations. The government ban on single use plastic bags is another demonstration of commitment to ensuring plastic waste does not continue to threaten the environment, including marine life. There has also been a move to protect the coral reef, home to one of the world’s most diverse marine eco-systems.

As Africa enjoins itself to the a paradigm shift to the blue economy, and looks for pathways towards being at the centre of global trade based on the Blue Economy, rather than just the supplier of unprocessed raw materials, among the greatest hurdles will be responsible management, so that the wealth generation is inclusive and ecologically sound.

To achieve this, countries must importantly work on current conflicts that are driven by lack of demarcation of maritime and aquatic boundaries.This has been a constant source of tensions between neighbouring countries, not only threating any long-term investment considerations, but also leading to irresponsible use of resources.

With the potential gains from the Blue Economy, states have no option but to fast-track resolution of disputes and strengthen their maritime and riparian cooperation mechanisms. This will provide grounds for working on interstate economies of scale and develop strategies for bridging technical and infrastructure gaps among States.

In line with SDG 14, development of this sector must also promote social inclusion while ensuring environmental sustainability. In this respect, the continent owes special consideration to people living along the shores of oceans, lakes and rivers, essentially youth and women. The question of how this“new frontier” can address poverty reduction and hunger when leaving no one behind must be a central consideration.

Sadly,Global citizens have already demonstrated considerable recklessness in managing land-based resources. The relatively untouched frontier of Blue Economy must be handled with the highest environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

Kenya and Canada are committed to this and the United Nations family is fully in support of this important initiative which could leapfrog Kenya’s and indeed the world’s economic growth.

We therefore invite the world to Nairobi on 26th to 28th November 2018, to participate in a global conversation and showcase technology and innovation on the most appropriate strategies for productive, sustainable and inclusive use ofthe numerous resources in the seas, oceans, rivers and lakes.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/harnessing-blue-economy-must-consider-soc...

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Building Climate Resilience in Coastal Communities of the Caribbean

24 Aug 2017 - The Caribbean is heavily dependent on tourism and other marine services, industries that the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) last report indicate are expected to be heavily impacted by climate change.

24 Aug 2017 - Ceylon Clayton is trying to revive a sea moss growing project he and friends started a few years ago to supplement their dwindling earnings as fishermen.

This time, he has sought the support of outsiders and fishermen from neighbouring communities to expand the operations and the ‘unofficial’ fishing sanctuary. Clayton is leading a group of ten fishers from the Little Bay community in Westmoreland, Jamaica, who have big dreams of turning the tiny fishing village into the largest sea moss producer on the island.

He is also one of the many thousands of fishers in the Caribbean who are part of an industry that, along with other ecosystem services, earns around 2 billion dollars a year, but which experts say is already fully developed or over-exploited.

The men began farming seaweed because they could no longer support their families fishing on the narrow Negril shelf, and they lacked the equipment needed to fish in deeper waters, he said.

As Clayton tells it, not long after they began enforcing a ‘no fishing’ zone, they were both surprised and pleased that within two and a half years, there was a noticeable increase in the number and size of lobsters being caught.

“When we were harvesting the sea moss we noticed that there were lots of young lobsters, shrimp and juvenile fish in the roots. They were eating there and the big fish were also coming back into the bay to eat the small fish,” Clayton told members of a delegation from the German Development Bank (KfW), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) also called 5Cs and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who came to visit the site in May.

To protect their ‘nursery’ and preserve the recovery, the fishermen took turns patrolling the bay, but two years ago, they ran out of money.

“We didn’t have the markets,” Clayton said, noting there were limited markets for unprocessed seaweed and not enough money to support the patrols.

The seaweed is thriving and teeming with marine life; fishing in around Little Bay and the neighbouring villages has also improved, Clayton said. Now he, his wife (also a fisher) and eight friends want to build on that success and believe the climate change adaptation project being implemented by the 5Cs is their best chance at success. They’ve recruited other fishers, the local school and shopkeepers.

Showing off the variety of juvenile marine animals, including baby eels, seahorses, octopi, reef fish and shrimp hiding among the seaweed, the 30 plus-years veteran fisherman explained that the experiment had shown the community the success that could come from growing, processing and effectively marketing the product. The bonus, he said, would be the benefits that come from making the bay off-limits for fishing.

This alternative livelihoods project is one of many that make up the 14 coastal protection projects being implemented across the region by the 5Cs. Aptly named the Coastal Protection for Climate Change Adaptation (CPCCA) in Small Island States in the Caribbean Project because of its focus, it is being implemented with technical support from IUCN and a €12.9 million in grant funding from the KfW.

“The project seeks to minimise the adverse impacts from climate change by restoring the protective services offered by natural eco-systems like coastal mangrove forests and coral reefs in some areas, while restoring and building man-made structures such as groynes and revetments in others,” the IUCN Technical consultant Robert Kerr said in an email. Aside from Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are also beneficiaries under the project.

The Caribbean is heavily dependent on tourism and other marine services, industries that the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) last report indicate are expected to be heavily impacted by climate change. Most if not all states depend on the fisheries and the regional tourism industry – which grew from four million visitors in 1970 to an estimated 25 million visitors today – earns an estimated 25 billion dollars in revenue and supports about six million jobs.

The findings of the IPCC’s report is further strengthened by that of the Caribbean Marine Climate Change Report Card (2017) which stated: “The seas, reefs and coasts on which all Caribbean people depend are under threat from coral bleaching, ocean acidification, rising sea temperature, and storms.”

“The project is a demonstration of Germany’s commitment to assisting the region’s vulnerable communities to withstand the impacts of climate change,” said Dr. Jens Mackensen KfW’s head of Agriculture and Natural Resources Division for Latin America and Caribbean.

All the Jamaican projects are in protected areas, and are managed by a mix of non-governmental organisations (ngos), academic and local government organisations. The Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) is managing the seaweed project and two other components – to reduce the flow of sewage into the wetlands and install mooring buoys and markers to regulate use of the sea – that focus on strengthening the ecosystem and improving the climate resilience of the Negril Marine Protected area.

The University of the West Indies’ Centre for Marine Sciences is managing the East Portland Fish Sanctuary project; the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) Foundation works in the Portland Bight area and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), a quasi-government agency is managing infrastructure work on the Closed Habour Beach also called Dump Up beach in the Montego Bay area.

Clayton’s plan to include a processing plant at the local school and a marketing network in the small business community has impressed 5C’s executive director Dr. Kenrick Leslie and McKensen.

Sea moss is a common ingredient in energy tonics that target men, the locals explain. In addition WMC’s project manager Simone Williams said, “The projects aim to protect and rehabilitate the degraded fisheries habitat and ecosystems of Orange Bay, streamline usage of the marine areas and improve quality of discharge into marine areas.”

In Portland Bight, an area inhabited by more than 10,000 people, and one of the most vulnerable, C-CAM is working to improve awareness, build resilience through eco-systems based adaptation, conservation and the diversification of livelihoods. Important, CCAM Executive Director Ingrid Parchment said, because most of the people here rely on fisheries. The area supports some 4,000 fishers – 300 boats from five fishing beaches. They have in the past suffered severe flooding from storm surges, which have in recent times become more frequent.

And in the tourist town of Montego Bay, the UDC is undertaking structural work to repair a groyne that will protect the largest public beach in the city – Dump-up or Closed Harbour Beach. Works here will halt the erosion of the main beach as well as two adjacent beaches (Gun Point and Walter Fletcher) and protect the livelihoods of many who make their living along the coast. When complete the structure will form the backbone of further development for the city.

UWI’s Alligator Head Marine Lab is spearheading a project to reinforce protection of vulnerable seaside and fishing communities, along the eastern coast of Portland, a parish locals often say has been neglected but with links to James Bond creator, Ian Fleming it has great potential as a tourism destination.

Here, over six square kilometres of coastline is being rehabilitated through wetlands and reef rehabilitation; the establishment of alternative livelihood projects; renewable technologies and actions to reduce greenhouse gases and strengthen climate resilience.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the CPCCA is helping the Ministry of Works to rehabilitate the Sandy Bay Community, and the coastal Windward Highway where storm damage has caused loss of housing, livelihoods and recreational space, Kerr said.

The local census data puts unemployment in Sandy Bay as the country’s highest and, as Kerr noted, “With the highest reported level of poverty at 55 per cent, the Sandy Bay Community cannot afford these losses.”

CPCCA is well on its way and will end in 2018, by that time, Leslie noted beneficiaries would be well on their way to achieving their and the project’s goal.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/building-climate-resilience-coastal-commu...