Ocean Action Hub

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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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In Costa Rica, women find new strength as business leaders

20 Jun 2019 - Costa Rica leads the world in the protection of its ocean and sea life, and more women are becoming involved in sustainably managing its fisheries.

20 Jun 2019 - Costa Rica is leading the world in the protection of its oceans and sea life, and increasingly women are becoming involved in sustainably managing its fisheries.

Rosa Martinez lives in San Isidro de Chacarita, in the province of Puntarenas. She entered the world of longline fishing two years ago after a relative suggested she and her husband buy their own boat.

“I was very scared because I had only dedicated myself to housework, I had never managed people. I did not even know how to differentiate fish species,” she says.

The mother of two quickly took to the business world and the crew now calls her ‘la patrona’. While her husband goes to sea, she ensures that the business runs smoothly.

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Coming together to clean up our oceans

14 Jun 2019 - Two American senators come together across party lines to protect the ocean with a new law passed to address dumping of waste and debris in the ocean. Read their blog:

14 Jun 2019 - Two American senators come together across party lines to protect the ocean with a new law passed to address dumping of waste and debris in the ocean. Read their blog:

Editors’ note: In October, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Save Our Seas (SOS) Act of 2018. This law, authored by Senators Dan Sullivan and Sheldon Whitehouse, passed Congress with strong bipartisan support and seeks to address dumping of trash and debris in the oceans and the Great Lakes. It also extends the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through 2022 and authorizes NOAA to declare “severe marine debris events.” Senators Sullivan and Whitehouse co-authored this blog for UNDP in honor of World Oceans Day. 8 June.

Washington — Every day, in nearly every news outlet across the country, headlines feature the things on which we, in the US Congress, disagree. It’s true that we represent a big and diverse country, where rigorous debate is common and healthy. But those headlines don’t tell the whole story. There are many times when we have come together. For instance, how we — a Republican from Alaska and a Democrat from Rhode Island — have worked to rid our oceans of marine debris is a great example of how we have put aside politics and addressed a critical environmental issue.

Ocean debris hits Alaska particularly hard. Alaska has more coastline than the entire lower 48 states combined, and its fisheries — among the best-managed in the world — are vital to the state and to our country. Massive amounts of marine debris washing up on our shores threaten not only fisheries in Alaska, but the health of oceans and communities across the country, including Rhode Island.

That’s why we, as members of the Senate Commerce and Environment and Public Works committees, banded together. While serving as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, we held a bipartisan hearing on marine debris. We introduced the Save Our Seas (SOS) Act shortly after the hearing.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://medium.com/@UNDP/coming-together-to-clean-up-our-oceans-ae93b747d7cf

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Women scientists for the preservation of our marine heritage (World Oceans Day 2019)

11 Jun 2019 - This World Oceans Day, UNESCO highlights the contribution of women scientists to a healthy ocean.

11 Jun 2019 - This World Oceans Day, UNESCO highlights the contribution of women scientists to a healthy ocean.

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Innovation helps rebuild Belize’s coral reef

10 June 2018 - By transplanting unrelated coral colonies onto permanent sites, marine biologists can ensure healthier cross-breeding and coral that are more resilient to disease and bleaching.

10 June 2018 - Hurricane Iris made landfall in southern Belize on October 4, 2001. It was the deadliest storm of the season. Six days later, communities across Belize and other parts of the Caribbean and Central America were left with US$250 million in damages. When the 14-feet-high tidal surges subsided, the fishing village of Placencia and Laughing Bird Caye National Park were decimated.

The hurricane heavily damaged the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Times were hard for the Placencia community who had lost homes, farms, fishing grounds, and all means of feeding their families. When the coral died, fishermen from the village also noticed that the fish disappeared.

Fragments of Hope was borne out of Belize’s moment of despair.

The community-based organization is the first in Belize to adopt micro-fragmenting, a revolutionary super coral growing technique. The pioneering group is also the first to take on the coral growing in Belize, which many believed couldn’t be done.

After Hurricane Iris struck, marine biologist Lisa Carne began to research techniques for saving coral reef systems by transplanting live broken coral to the Laughing Bird Caye National Park, off the coast of Placencia.

“The idea of transplanting coral to Laughing Bird Caye was dismissed by many, saying there was only rubble left, the donor reef site was too far, and disease or bleaching might kill them. People did not think there was a need, until 2006 when the Caribbean acroporids (hard coral) were listed by the U.S. as an endangered species,” Lisa recalled.

But the work really took off after she adopted micro-fragmenting and further innovated the process. This revolutionary coral growing technique was discovered by American marine biologist Dr. David Vaughan around 2006 when he accidentally broke a staghorn coral in his laboratory tank and returned a week later to find that the broken pieces had grown to their original size.

Micro-fragmenting has been a game changer for Lisa, and marine biologists worldwide. It speeds up coral tissue regeneration by 25 to 50 times. The coral is cut into one to five polyps, which are tiny, soft-bodied organisms. Through repeated dividing and fusing, coral can reach maturity in two years, a process which would normally take at least 100 years. The full-grown coral are also sexually mature, which would otherwise take at least 75 years. By transplanting unrelated coral colonies onto permanent sites, marine biologists can ensure healthier cross-breeding and coral that are more resilient to disease and bleaching.

Lisa Carne and the Fragments of Hope grow new micro-fragments directly in shallow inlets of the reef in a scene reminiscent of an underwater bakery. Small coral cuttings of staghorn, elkhorn, and brain coral, no bigger than a pinkie finger, are placed on ‘cookies’, made from Portland cement, sand and water. Marine epoxy or crazy glue are used to glue coral in place. These are laid out on underwater coral nursery tables, like cookies cooling on baking racks. The ocean’s current and fish clean the algae and debris from the growing coral.

After a year, the coral are transplanted to permanent homes further out in the ocean. They must be outcropped no later than three to four months before hurricane season. This ensures they take root and can withstand storms.

Today, swimming out from the shores of Laughing Bird Caye National Park, visibility is murky and the seabed is lined with mounds of dead coral and conch shells. One wobbly brain coral, half collapsed and diseased, and a lone juvenile yellow snapper are the only signs of life. Within five minutes, the water turns a clear turquoise blue and the seascape opens up to illuminate an ocean floor heavily blanketed in living staghorn coral and a kaleidoscope of young fish.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE: https://medium.com/@UNDP/innovation-helps-rebuild-belizes-coral-reef-bcd89ed1b1ba?postPublishedType=repub

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On World Environment Day, signs of hope

5 Jun 2019 - Take a moment of respite from the daily news about biodiversity loss and our climate crisis to discover bright, bold solutions that point us toward the future

5 Jun 2019 - Today is World Environment Day. First the bad news. In the wake of two bleak global reports – one on nature and one on climate – it is easy to be filled with despair. We are set to lose a million species within the next 30 years. We are on the brink of dangerous climate tipping points and only have about a decade to act. We are set to have more plastic in the ocean than fish biomass by 2050. These trends not only endanger our environment, they endanger our existence.

Our relationship with nature must undergo a profound shift or we will face a vastly more inhospitable and dangerous future. We must find new solutions that point toward a sustainable future. These solutions must help us combat and adapt to our climate crisis. They must help us protect and restore ecosystems and wildlife. They must help us manage natural resources – soil, timber, water – sustainably. These solutions must also be just, fair and inclusive, ensuring that no one is left behind, especially the 3.4 billion people in the world who depend on nature for their livelihood, and who are disproportionately affected.

Now for the good news – these solutions are all around us! Hundreds of communitiesaround the world are already charting  new courses for the future, finding pathways to restore and protect our planet, reduce plastic pollution, reduce and sequester greenhouse gases, avoid dangerous tipping points, and secure decent and prosperous lives. The Equator Initiative is a partnership that identifies such solutions, recognizing and celebrating local, nature-based sustainable development initiatives around the world.

This World Environment Day, we are especially proud to announce the 20 winners of this year’s Equator Prize. This World Environment Day, take a moment of respite from the daily news about biodiversity loss and our climate crisis. Take a moment to discover these bright, bold solutions that point us toward a future by visiting the Equator Initiative website. Learn about a community in Nigeria that has found a replacement for single-use plastics; and many others. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2019/on-world-environment-day--signs-of-hope.html

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Ashanti and UNDP Ocean Ambassador Cody Simpson play #PlayItOut concert in Antigua

3 June 2019 - Concert aims to raise awarness of reducing ocean plastic, part of initiative by UN General Assembley President. 

3 June 2019 - Concert aims to raise awarness of reducing ocean plastic, part of initiative by UN General Assembley President. 

The internationally star-studded concert featuring headliners was audited by the Antigua EAG and earned a score of 84.2%, categorizing the event as “4 Leaf” recognizing that the "Event promoter is among the upper echelons of sustainable events and has met significant targets that reduce the environmental impact of events on the natural environment."

See the UN Play It Out Concert Programme here: http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/PLAY_IT_OUT_RUNSHEET.pdf

For more information: www.un.org/pga/73/PlayItOut

20 ideas to reduct your use of plastics: https://medium.com/@UNDP/20-ways-to-plastic-proof-your-routine-cb923546f0e7

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UN SG outlines ‘intertwined challenges’ of ocean health and climate change facing Pacific nations on the ‘frontline’

15 May 2019 - António Guterres outlined two “fundamental challenges” facing Pacific leaders: climate change and the world’s rising ocean, which threatens to submerge low-lying nations.

15 May 2019 - Visiting Fiji for the first time as Secretary-General, António Guterres outlined two “fundamental challenges” facing leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum on Thursday, namely climate change and the world’s rising ocean, which threatens to submerge low-lying nations.

“The Pacific region is on the frontline of climate change”, he said. “That means you are also our important allies in the fight against it”.

Warming ocean

Climate change also threatens the well-being of the world’s ocean and seas, which are critical to the economies and traditions of the Pacific.

“Oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, causing coral bleaching and reducing biodiversity” the UN chief told the Forum, stating that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius would cause “severe damage to tropical reefs”. 

Moreover, if warming reached two degrees Celsius or more, “it would be catastrophic for marine life and humans alike” he said. “Food security would decline. Economic growth would suffer”.

But seas and marine life are also under attack from other directions. Mr. Guterres painted a picture of overfishing; underwater deserts in effect, with no oxygen; seas filled with poison and trash, and species becoming extinct within decades. 

“Every year, more than eight million tonnes of harmful plastic waste end up in the ocean” he said. “According to one recent study, plastic could outweigh fish in our seas by 2050”.

While many countries are finally rejecting single-use plastic, the UN chief underscored that “we must do even more” to address the unsustainable levels of stress on marine and coastal ecosystems.

He commended Pacific countries for ensuring the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, saying that his Special Envoy for the Ocean, Fiji’s Peter Thomson, is promoting the SDGs and the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference. 

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/05/1038521

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