Ocean Action Hub

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There are enormous mountains under the sea. Here are five things you need to know.

Seamounts were once volcanoes

Seamounts are large submarine volcanic mountains, formed through volcanic activity and submerged under the ocean. Though they were once seen as nothing more than a nuisance by sailors, scientists have discovered that the structures of seamounts form wildlife hotspots. The steep slopes of seamounts carry nutrients upwards from the depths of the seafloor towards the sunlit surface, providing the sea life with nutrient-rich food. 

2/ Mount Vema is as high as 767 giraffes piled on top of each other

The Vema seamount was discovered in 1957 (some sources say 1959) by an Oceanographic Research vessel with the same name. From the ocean floor, it stretches 4 600m high. That is 4,5 times higher than the iconic Table Mountain in South Africa, or as high as 767 giraffes piled on top of each other .   Which also means that the peak of Mount Vema is just 26m below the ocean surface, so it will be possible for Greenpeace to go there with human divers and show the amazing biodiversity of the region. 

3/ The first explorers of Mount Vema were on a hunt for diamonds

The discoverers initially hoped to find large diamond deposits on Vema. Instead they found another kind of wealth: the Tristan rock lobster or Jasus tristani, a lobster species that is otherwise found only on the Tristan da Cunha archipelago about 1,000 nautical miles away. This kind of lobster enjoyed great fame among seafood lovers and sold for a good price, before it became virtually extinct at Mount Vema due to overfishing. The population of Tristan lobsters still hasn’t recovered to this day.

4/  Mount Vema is littered with abandoned fishing gear

Now, instead of Tristan lobsters, surveys in the area only find old discarded fishing equipment, a deadly trap for numerous animals. Abandoned fishing gear, called “ghost gear” continues to catch sea creatures as if they were still being used, snaring and entangling species that cannot free themselves and end up dying. This damages both marine life and the fisherman who lose part of their potential catch. 

5/ A Global Ocean Treaty could help protect this place

Seamounts like Mount Vema are often found miles from countries’ national waters, far out on the high seas. That makes it difficult to give them proper protection, as the gaps in existing regulations  can be easily exploited by destructive industries. This is why we are campaigning for a global treaty to protect the high seas, so that unique ecosystems like Vema’s can finally be protected effectively. 

Greenpeace is going from pole to pole to show the biodiversity, threats and possible solutions to protect our oceans, and Mount Vema is the next stop!

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Climate change in Asia and the Pacific. What’s at stake?
20 Sept 2019 - Asia-Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world.
With extensive coastlines, low-lying territories, and many small island states, its geography makes it highly susceptible to rising sea levels and weather extremes.

Heat waves, floods, and droughts affect every aspect of life, from nutrition and health, to safety and income.

Unlike developed countries, many nations in Asia and the Pacific cope with the effects of climate change while at the same time trying to raise living standards.

While Asia-Pacific’s poorer communities contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions, they are the ones feeling the consequences of climate change the most. Unpredictable weather patterns can lead to failing crops, spiking food prices, and spreading diseases that threaten to wipe out decades of development gains.

Continue reading online here: https://medium.com/@UNDP/climate-change-in-asia-and-the-pacific-whats-at-stake-47c7b0de5ade

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UNDP Thailand unveils nationwide campaign to combat single-use plastics
9 Sept 2019 - The campaign encourages Thai consumers to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics at grocery stores, eateries and cafes across the country.

9 Sept 2019 - The campaign, 'No Plastic! Yes, We Can', encourages Thai consumers to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics at grocery stores, eateries and cafes across the country.

An advocacy video urging consumers to adopt alternatives to plastic bags and disposable cups and straws went live on more than 300 digital billboards across the country on August 23, including landmarks, airports, BTS sky-train stations and major shopping malls in Bangkok.

The advert depicts a local grocery store that offers free food and drinks from their shelves, but challenges shoppers to find innovative ways to carry the food, without single-use plastic boxes or bags. 

The campaign will run till November 2019 and will feature awareness events and calls-to-action by celebrity advocates in Thailand.

Thailand generates two million tonnes of plastic waste every year, and over 50,000 tonnes of this plastic ends up in the oceans according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

At the UN’s Oceans Conference two years ago, the country pledged to take action on single-use plastics, including measures to encourage eco-friendly packaging and plastics substitutes in the retail sector. 

Globally, experts have issued warnings that the 13 million metric tonnes of plastic waste that leak into the ocean every year are crippling and depleting more than 1,300 marine species, and contaminating the food chain. 

According to estimates by UN Environment, by 2050, oceans will have more plastic than fish if present trends are not halted.

The advertising agency Dentsu Thailand developed the campaign concept and the video, as part of a year-long partnership with UNDP, and will roll out a social media campaign that reinforces the message on plastics across multiple media.   

The first phase of the campaign leverages the near-ubiquitous presence of digital billboards owned by Plan B Media, Thailand’s biggest outdoor media company. Plan B billboards are playing Thai- and English-language versions of the advocacy video throughout their operating hours.

Plan B and Dentsu Thailand entered into formal partnerships with UNDP in July this year, with the two companies committing time and resources on a series of campaigns that further the Sustainable Development Goals in Thailand. 

Plastic waste has been at the center of a recent outcry in Thailand after the death of the rescued baby dugong Marium who perished in August because of the plastic in her stomach.

“Thailand is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, but marine eco-systems are suffering and species dying because of the plastic waste that ends up in our oceans,” said Renaud Meyer, Resident Representative of UNDP Thailand.

“I’m pleased to work with our partners, Dentsu Thailand and Plan B Media, in raising awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the plastics issue among Thai consumers. I laud them for their commitment to working with us in achieving a sustainable planet without poverty and injustice,” said Meyer.  

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.th.undp.org/content/thailand/en/home/presscenter/pressreleas...

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Official website for the 2020 UN Ocean Conference is now live

4 Sept 2019 - Find out how to register for the event in Lisbon on 2 - 6 June 2020

4 Sept 2019 - Find out how to register for the event in Lisbon on 2 - 6 June 2020 here: https://oceanconference.un.org/

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Great Barrier Reef outlook very poor, Australia says

2 Sept 2019 - The Great Barrier Reef's outlook has been officially downgraded from poor to very poor due to climate change.

2 Sept 2019 - The Great Barrier Reef's outlook has been officially downgraded from poor to very poor due to climate change.

Rising sea temperatures thanks to human-driven global warming remain the biggest threat to the reef, a five-year Australian government report says.

Actions to save it "have never been more time critical", the report reads.

Stretching over 2,300km (1,400 miles), the reef was designated a World Heritage site in 1981 for its "enormous scientific and intrinsic importance".

But in recent years the reef has been increasingly damaged by warmer seas which have killed off coral and affected its long-term health.

Unesco's World Heritage Committee is due to consider adding the reef to its list of sites that are "in danger".

The massive report documents the condition of the reef and its outlook for the future.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-49520949

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RESTORING KALPITIYA'S REEF

28 Aug 2019 - Protecting Sri Lanka's largest marine sanctuary and reviving its former glory.

28 Aug 2019 - Protecting Sri Lanka's largest marine sanctuary and reviving its former glory.

Up until recently, not a lot was known about the Bar Reef in Kalpitiya. But by the time we learned its value, we’d nearly lost it forever. 

The Bar Reef, located 2 km off the coast of Kalpitiya, is in fact the largest coral reef and the largest protected marine area in Sri Lanka. While it was declared a marine sanctuary in 1992, the reef remained relatively unexplored or otherwise affected by human activity due to the then ongoing civil war. However, the reef has since taken a dramatic turn for the worst owing to the effects of human activity both on- and offshore as well as natural causes. Today the reefs lie in an area surrounded by 10 buoys to demarcate the area as a No-Go Zone until the recovery of coral reefs. What’s more, a community effort with support from various national and international organizations is underway to help save it before it is too late. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://undpsrilanka.exposure.co/restoring-kalpitiyas-reef

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UNDP launches Accelerator Lab for the Pacific

23 Aug 2019 - Focus is on challenges including climate change and climate migration, costal zone and oceans management, waste management, government digitalization and the economy.

23 Aug 2019 - Focus is on challenges including climate change and climate migration, costal zone and oceans management, waste management, government digitalization and the economy.

It’s the dawn of a new era for innovation in the Pacific. Today, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji launches it’s first-ever Accelerator Lab for the Pacific region. The Accelerator Labs represent UNDP’s new strategy and thinking in relation to development and advocating bolder innovation.

The new Lab will be one of 60 labs worldwide that seek to accelerate progress towards 21st century “frontier challenges”, which is building to be the world’s largest and fastest learning network around development challenges.

The Resident Representative for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Levan Bouadze said “The challenges and complexities of our time leave us no choice but to invest in bold innovation and breakthroughs, to ensure no one is left behind.”

Together with our core partners, the State of Qatar, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of Italy, 60 Accelerator Labs serving 78 countries will work together with national, regional and global partners to find new approaches that fit the complexity of current development challenges.  

Traditional approaches to development are struggling to keep up with today’s social and environmental challenges therefore, the new Labs will try to address the following questions:

·         How do we better tackle complex and fast-moving “frontier challenges”?

·         How do we find the most relevant solutions that work locally?

·         How do we learn more quickly about what works and what doesn’t?

Essentially the Lab moves innovation from the margins to the center of UNDP’s programming work.

“Our current approaches are not making enough progress against 21st century frontier development challenges,” said Bouadze. Hence, the Lab intends to enable programmes to apply innovation approaches in their work, and shift mindsets on ‘how development is done’.

The Lab forms a learning network of 60 Accelerator Labs across the world where offices can learn rapidly from each other on what works and what doesn’t.

Furthermore, if multiple Labs are working on a challenge in parallel, they benefit from each other’s learning in real-time, creating a powerful collective learning effect.

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Improving access to environment information in Tuvalu

July 19, 2019 - The Tuvalu Government has formalized the establishment of an e-library providing an online database of research and government documents.

July 19, 2019 - The Tuvalu Government has formalized the establishment of an e-library providing an online database of research and government documents.

The signing in April this year with Prosentient Systems, an e-library system hosting company based in Sydney, Australia, paved the way for the country’s National Library and Archives to implement the process of an online storage of information.

The planning of this online process   began in 2015 following discussions between the National Library and Archives and the Tuvalu Ridge to Reef (R2R) project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department of Environment.

The following year, 2016, a more focused discussion took place on the set up of an e-library with possible funding from the Tuvalu R2R project. This linked in with one of the project outcomes related to knowledge management.

“The idea of the e-library system is basically trying to preserve everything and to get people connected especially those living overseas, Tuvalu scholars when they want to do research. We want to make it as a centralized system for all of Government to upload and download their reports. Right now the challenge we are facing is lack of space and storage so the only way we can do this, is to use a cloud (system) or something like that so that everyone can access from anywhere at any time,” explained Government Archivist Noa Petueli.

The Tuvalu R2R project is tasked with improving data and information systems on biodiversity, forests land management, adaptation and best practice. The team will support and coordinate ongoing efforts to develop an electronic library where past and ongoing data, knowledge, and information, including reports are collected and hosted by the Government, including the Tuvalu National Library.

Lamese Saamu is the Environment Data Specialist with the project team and is working with the Government Archivist and his team to set up the e-library.

He said, “The overall contribution of the R2R Project to this initiative is a great achievement, as reports related to environment issues could be all stored in this centralized system which everyone could access at anytime from anywhere and this is one of the project outcomes that is to improve access to environment information.”

For those responsible for safeguarding Tuvalu’s historical records and information, the country’s vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters is one of the key motivating factors to set-up an online database.

“We can’t fight time. This is the only solution we have especially for us low lying islands like Tuvalu. So the only thing is to convert them to electronic copies. That’s what we do, we convert things to electronic copies and we maintain the original hard copies” said Noa Petueli.

The Tuvalu R2R project has purchased computers and book scanners to help with the move to an online system.

“We financially supported the hosting of the system and also the capacity building of the Tuvalu National Library Archive’s staff training on the setup. The R2R project also setup the system and customize it so that the system looks like what the TNLA wanted to be,” Saamu said.

Moving forward, the team at the Tuvalu National Library and Archives is working on making the system as user friendly as possible.

“Our target is to get all the titles into the system so whenever you access in the system you need to have a library ID, you need to become a member of the library, you can access the system, we will allocate you a password. For the archives there is going to be restricted access. There’s a section of people that can access the archives and there are some type of archive materials that are going to be made public. You either download it or you going to ask permission and you come to the physical library to have access to it” said Noa Petueli.

The training of staff is also being planned with Prosentient Systems and planning ahead in terms of long-term funding to maintain the e-library for the people of Tuvalu.

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Mobilizing Urgent Action and Political Will For Ocean and Climate Change

18 Jul 2019 - There is an urgent need for action on the ocean and climate change nexus. Addressing the future of ocean and related climate impacts will require direct action and political

18 Jul 2019 - There is an urgent need for action on the ocean and climate change nexus. Addressing the future of ocean and related climate impacts will require direct action and political will says UNDP's Krishneil Narayan.

"Our ocean, which covers three quarters of the earth’s surface, is one of the greatest and most important resources of our planet. It provides food for four out of ten people in the world and is a source of income for billions of people, including those of us living in Pacific island Countries (PICs).

Although small in terms of land area, the PICs have some of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world and this makes the ocean an important resource for island nations. 

The ocean plays a significant role in the global climate system, generating oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Climate change is leading to alterations in the oceans, including sea-level rise and ocean acidification, which put marine ecosystems and coastal communities at risk.

People need a healthy ocean to survive and yet, we keep polluting, exhausting, and destroying this valuable resource. Addressing the future of ocean and related climate impacts will require direct action and political will.

The Paris Agreement currently recognizes the important role of ecosystem services to climate change and its role as a carbon sink. The ocean is the most critical of all ecosystems due to a combination of its composition and scale. There is no solution to global climate change without action on the world’s ocean.

The Ocean Pathway Partnership was launched in Bonn, Germany during the COP23 Climate Change Conference under Fiji’s presidency. It is currently co-chaired by Fiji and Sweden and provides timely leadership in highlighting the role of the ocean in the global climate change processes."

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.pacific.undp.org/content/pacific/en/home/blog/2019/mobilizing-urgent-action-and-political-will-for-ocean-and-climate-change.html

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Learn how ocean science can support us to #SaveOurOcean

4 Jul 2019 - The ocean is our planet’s blue heart. Our lives depend on it. So let’s make sure it won’t stop beating.  

4 Jul 2019 - The ocean is our planet’s blue heart. Our lives depend on it. So let’s make sure it won’t stop beating.  

The ocean health is deteriorating: rising sea temperatures, overfishing, loss of oxygen and increasing seawater acidity are posing major threats to marine ecosystems and their capacity to provide services essential to life.

Achieving a healthy ocean is vital not just for our planet, but equally essential for a rapidly growing human population and demand for resources.

For decades, science has provided salient, timely and policy relevant advice to policy-making, from recovering the ozone layer, to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Nowadays, our changing world calls for even more science, and for a science that benefits society.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://en.unesco.org/news/ocean-science-day-celebrates-benefits-science-society-and-rallies-government-scientists-and

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