Ocean Action Hub

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MOVING WITH THE TIMES: The Cook Islands is embracing technology for climate action

7 Dec 2018 - The Cook Islands Meteorological Service (Met Service) is modernising the capture, analysis, and distribution of climate information.

7 Dec 2018 - Fishers find typical seasons for the spawning of fish have changed and the islands are seeing coral bleaching and the disappearance of some native fish and shellfish delicacies.

"Fishing and planting are our communities’ livelihoods. In this, weather is everything. If the weather takes a turn for the worse while I am at sea, it can be a safety issue. If I am unable to catch enough fish to feed my family and provide for my community, then how can we survive? With the remoteness of our island, we must be resilient. We must adapt for our existence, and if technology is the pathway then let’s learn how to use it." - Poroa Arokapiki, Secretary - Mangaia Fishing Association

For centuries, Cook Islands communities have used traditional knowledge and skills, passed down through generations, to read their environment and provide food for their families. Nature has provided.

But farmers, fishers, and practitioners of traditional livelihoods have witnessed changes over the past decades. Typical seasons for the spawning of fish have shifted. Rainfall, wave, and wind patterns have become less predictable. The islands are seeing coral bleaching and the disappearance of some native fish and shellfish delicacies. Storm surges and sea-water intrusion are increasingly impacting crops.

While these trends are being observed first-hand by communities, scientific data is key to fully understanding the changes.

The Government of the Cook Islands is focused on filling the gaps and now, with the installation of automatic weather stations and a new online app, the Cook Islands Meteorological Service (Met Service) is modernising the capture, analysis, and distribution of climate information – a key piece of the puzzle in building a more climate-smart future.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://undp-adaptation.exposure.co/moving-with-the-times

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Innovative finance for the Maldives’ sustainable development

30 Nov 2018 - How can Maldives source the finance it needs to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what opportunities are offered by new innovative financing models?

30 Nov 2018 - The Maldives, which comprises 1,190 small islands in total, is a typical example of the ‘island paradox’ with multi-dimensional development challenges. On the one hand, the country has achieved relative prosperity; Gross National Income (GNI) increased by over 200% between 1990-2015, and human development indicators such as life expectancy at birth improved by 15.6 years. On the other hand, the country grapples with challenging macro-economic fundamentals: a high deficit (19.6% of GDP, 2016), high public debt levels (65.7% of GDP, 2016), a narrow economic and tax base, weak public financial management systems, vulnerability to external shocks due to a high dependence on fisheries and tourism sector (combined at over 30% of GDP), and increased environmental vulnerability due to climate change. The country’s graduation to middle-income status in 2011 has also resulted in a decline of development aid, of around 60% over a 10-year period since 2006.

In this context, how can Maldives source the finance it needs to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? And what opportunities are offered by new innovative financing models?

UNDP’s work in the Maldives focuses on addressing democratic governance, gender and climate change challenges. The work also includes assisting the government in improving its access to finance through initiatives such as Tax Inspectors Without Borders which was recently launched in the country and helps tax administrations build their tax audit capacities. This, in turn, helps to mobilize domestic public resources. The recently elected new government's strong commitment to the SDGs will strengthen these efforts.  

What can be done? One, as a Muslim country, Islamic financing instruments (Shariah lawcompliant financial products) like ‘Green Sukuk,’ have significant potential in the Maldives. Earlier this year, Indonesia launched the first sovereign ‘Green Sukuk’, which was oversubscribed, and indicative of the growing market demand for sustainable and responsible investments. Zakat funds (a form of philanthropy where followers of Islam are encouraged to donate at least 2.5% of their accumulated wealth) are another pool of resources that could be strategically tapped into. In May 2018, the Maldives began accepting Zakat proceeds, to support health and livelihoods programmes, however, much remains to be done.

Two, the country could seek to leverage additional finance from the private sector through blended finance (combining public and private investment) and impact investment (investing to generate impact alongside a financial return) in the major sectors of sustainable tourism and fisheries, as well as agriculture and renewable energy. The Maldives could tap into assistance from initiatives such as the SIDS-DOCK sustainable energy initiative for example, that help small island developing states to connect with the global market for finance to transform their national energy sectors into a catalyst for sustainable economic development. Additionally, UNDP is developing several social impact bonds worldwide, that bear potential for replication.

Three, the ‘Blue Economy’ is gaining momentum. The concept refers to a development approach in which ocean resources are harnessed for economic growth while preserving ocean and coastal ecosystem health. It includes economic activities such as marine renewable energy, sustainable fisheries, better management of ocean waste and ocean-related eco-tourism. To finance blue economy investments, new finance models can be explored, such as blue bonds (tapping into capital markets to fund ocean-related environmental projects). Other innovative ‘blue’ financing instruments include blue insurance, to co-finance and discount premia if marine economy protection measures are taken.

There are examples to learn from. Grenada is the first country to develop a vision for ‘Blue Growth’ and to articulate a national ‘Masterplan’ for blue economic development. The Seychelles also champion the blue economy model: It recently announced the issuance of a 10-year blue bond to finance fisheries projects, making it the world’s first country to utilize capital markets for funding the sustainable use of marine resources. Best practices are shared through international events, such as the high-level global conference on Sustainable Blue Economy (26-28 November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya) organized by the Governments of Canada, Japan and Kenya.

Additionally, the government needs to create an environment that better facilitates sustainable investment such as, strengthening institutions, improving transparency and good governance, improving the ease-of-doing-business, and building a strong policy framework for managing coastal and ocean resources, amongst others.

UNDP as a trusted development partner is assisting the Maldives on a wide portfolio of activities across climate change and governance, through technical expertise, policy advice, advocacy, knowledge sharing, and dialogue. However, it is crucial for the country to explore new innovative financing mechanisms to be able to achieve its development aspirations. As a small island developing state, the country needs to be supported to build capacities in these new financing models and approaches, to enable them to pull in new resources and build new partnerships for sustainable development.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/innovative-finance-for-Maldives-sustainable-development.html

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Global project launched to protect marine biodiversity

29 Nov 2018 - GloFouling Partnerships: A new collaboration between the GEF, UNDP and IMO to address bioinvasions through ships’ hulls and other marine structures

GloFouling Partnerships: A new collaboration between the GEF, UNDP and IMO to address bioinvasions through ships’ hulls and other marine structures

29 Nov 2018 - A new international effort to combat the negative environmental impacts of the transfer of aquatic species through ships has been launched this week. The GloFouling Partnerships project - a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) - will address the build-up of aquatic organisms on a ship’s underwater hull and on other marine mobile infrastructure.

The introduction of invasive aquatic organisms into new marine environments not only affects biodiversity and ecosystem health, but also has measurable impacts on a number of economic sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture and ocean energy. Therefore, addressing invasive aquatic species is not only a matter of ensuring the health and integrity of marine ecosystems, but ultimately about safeguarding ecosystem services that sustain the livelihoods of coastal communities across the globe.

The GloFouling project will drive actions to implement the IMO Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling, which provide a globally-consistent approach on how biofouling should be controlled and managed to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species through ships’ hulls. The project will also spur the development of best practices and standards for improved biofouling management in other ocean industries.

Twelve countries, representing a mix of developing nations and Small Island Developing States, have been selected to spearhead the work of the GloFouling project: Brazil, Ecuador, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tonga.

The GEF is providing a US$6.9 million grant to deliver a range of governance reforms at the national level, through numerous capacity-building activities, training workshops and opportunities for technology adoption to help address the issue of invasive species. Strong participation from private sector stakeholders is also expected, replicating the successful public-private sector partnership model used by IMO in previous projects.

While IMO will focus on shipping, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) will join the three main partners (GEF, UNDP, IMO) to lead the approach to other marine sectors with a view to developing best practices that may address the transfer of invasive aquatic species through improved biofouling management.  IOC-UNESCO will work hand in hand with the GloFouling project to increase awareness of this environmental challenge among key stakeholders. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/news-centre/news/2018/global-project-launched-to-protect-marine-biodiversity-.html

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Mauritius and Seychelles receive US$10 million to restore coral reefs for tourism

28 Nov 2018 - Innovative UNDP-supported climate change adaptation project will restore reefs, protect food security and promote disaster risk reduction.

Innovative UNDP-supported climate change adaptation project will restore reefs, protect food security and promote disaster risk reduction through ecosystem-based approach

The Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles, two small island developing states off the coast of Africa, have accessed a new US$10 million grant from the Adaptation Fund to restore their reef ecosystems.

The new six-year project, supported through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will  focus on coral reef restoration which eventually will contribute to protect the island nation’s growing tourism industries – which account for over 30 percent of national GDP and employ approximately half the population in both countries – at the same time ensuring food security for fishers who depend on the reefs to feed their families, and reducing risks from high-intensity storms.

“With the recent IPCC Report indicating a potential total loss of the world’s reefs if nothing is done to slow down global warming, nations across the globe need to scale up actions to protect their reef ecosystems and the billions of dollars they bring each year from tourism, fisheries, and reduced risks from natural disasters,” said Christine Umutoni, UNDP Resident Representative for the two nations. “UNDP has been supporting small island developing states for over a decade now to protect reefs and promote ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change. This new project signals an important step for these African nations in reaching their goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.”

The project will develop sustainable partnerships and community-based, business-driven approaches for reef restoration, establish coral farming and nursery facilities, and actively restore degraded reefs. On a regional and global level, the project will improve understanding on how to use coral reef restoration as a tool for climate change adaptation, provide models for sustainable management of reef ecosystems, and build capacity for long-term restoration and management of these precious habitants.

According to the United Nations, at least 500 million people worldwide rely on coral reefs for food, coastal protection and livelihoods. UN estimates put the value of reef ecosystems at US$36 billion per year for tourism alone. They are also an essential ecosystem, protecting 25 percent of known marine species and protecting coastal communities from storm surges, rising seas and high-intensity weather events like cyclones.

According to the new UN climate report, hotter and more acidic waters resulting from carbon pollution are killing off the world’s reefs at an alarming rate. With a temperature rise of just 1.5°C, the world will lose about 80 percent of coral reefs, while rises above 2°C will kill off virtually all of the world’s coral reefs.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://adaptation-undp.org/protect-billion-dollar-tourism-industry-mauritius-and-seychelles-restore-their-coral-reefs-new-us10

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What is the Blue Economy?

The Blue Economy is inclusive and improves the lives of all; creates jobs, reduces poverty and ends hunger; harnesses renewable energy; is based on sustainable fisheries ...

The Blue Economy:

  • Is inclusive and improves the lives of all
  • Harnesses renewable energy
  • Uses smart shipping to lessen the impacts on the environment
  • Is based on sustainable fisheries
  • Creates jobs, reduces poverty and ends hunger
  • Takes action against illegal fishing
  • Conserves marine life and oceans
  • Protects coastal communities from the impacts of climate change
  • Tackles marine litter and ocean pollution


More about the Blue Economy and sustainable economic development: 

Blue Economy: A sustainable ocean economic paradigm

Andrew Hudson
Head of Water and Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP

From November 26-28, Kenya will host the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi. This conference represents an important opportunity to take stock of both the opportunities – and the challenges – which the Blue Economy concept presents, in the context of SDG14 - Life Below Water...  Read...

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Innovative financing and regional dialogue are central for a thriving ‘blue economy’

25 Nov 2018 - The blue economy concept holds great potential for coastal communities around the world, including the Caribbean.

25 Nov 2018 - The concept of ‘blue economy’ is gaining momentum. It is all about using ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving ocean and coastal ecosystem health. It includes economic activities, such as sustainable marine energy, sustainable fisheries, better management of ocean waste and ocean-related eco-tourism. The blue economy holds great potential for coastal communities around the world. Take for example, the Caribbean.

At the Board of Governors Meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), 30-31 May 2018, the focus is on resilience, against the backdrop of one of the most devastating hurricane seasons the Caribbean region has experienced in recent history. As a contribution to the meeting, CDB and UNDP have partnered on a report to spark dialogue around the ways in which Caribbean countries can build resilience by adopting a ‘blue economy’ approach to development. The report identifies the financial challenges in the region, highlights innovative financing options that could be tested, and discusses policy and regulatory enablers to advance blue economy strategies at national and regional level.

What are the challenges? Financing investments in key blue economy areas such as sustainable infrastructure or research and development remains a significant challenge for Caribbean countries with a narrow economic and tax base, and in many cases high public debt. The debt-to-GDP ratio is over 60 percent in 12 out of 20 Caribbean countries according to Moody’s. Graduation of Caribbean countries to upper-middle and high-income status meanwhile has resulted in the decline of development aid by about 50 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to the World Bank, as well as restricted their eligibility for concessional finance. However, the region remains disproportionately vulnerable to environmental shocks and climate change. In 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria caused damages to Dominica estimated at more than 225 percent of GDP. This means affected countries need to find additional resources for relief and reconstruction.

What can be done? To finance blue economy investments, it is crucial that Caribbean countries have easier access to concessional finance and innovative debt instruments, such as countercyclical loans (allowing debt service to fall in the event of a major shock). There is also a need to explore innovative finance models, such as blended finance (combining public and private investment), impact investment (investing to generate impact alongside a financial return) and blue bonds (tapping into capital markets to fund ocean-related environmental projects). The report shows that these are underexplored areas for the Caribbean.

There are examples to learn from. Seychelles is one country championing the blue economy model. It has combined several innovative finance models to fund sustainable ocean-development and conservation. It issued its first ‘Blue Bond’ in 2017 to raise US$15 million to finance the transition to sustainable management of small-scale artisanal fisheries, including measures aimed at rebuilding fish stocks, harvest control measures, post-harvest and value adding activities, and scientific and sector support services. It also implemented a debt-for-nature swap combining $15.2 million of impact capital and $5 million in grants to buy back a portion of Seychelles’ debt at a discount, using the proceeds to fund marine conservation and climate change adaptation through a new trust fund named Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust.

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Blue Economy: a sustainable ocean economic paradigm

26 Nov 2018 - The Blue Economy concept is the use of ocean resources for human benefit in a manner that sustains the overall ocean resource base into perpetuity.

26 Nov 2018 - From 26-28 November, Kenya will host the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi. This conference represents an important opportunity to take stock of both the opportunities – and the challenges – which the Blue Economy concept presents, in the context of SDG14 - Life Below Water.

As the single largest natural asset on the planet which represents some 99% of the earth’s living volume, the ocean delivers numerous benefits to humanity.

  • The ocean is responsible for the oxygen in every other breath we take. It supplies 15 percent of humanity’s protein needs.
  • It helps to slow climate change by absorbing 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases.
  • It serves as the highway for some 90 percent of internationally traded goods, via the shipping sector.
  • If the ocean were a country, at several trillion dollars per year of economic activity, the ocean would rank 7th on the list of largest nations by GDP.
  • It is the source of hundreds of millions of jobs, in fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, energy production and other sectors.
  • It is also the source of some 30 percent of the world’s oil and gas resources but this equation must change if we are to succeed in the necessary transition to a low carbon development pathway.
  • Millions of the world’s poorest people depend heavily on the ocean and coastal resources for their sustenance and livelihoods.
  • Small-scale fishing provides about half of the world’s harvested seafood – but provides 44 times as many jobs per ton of fish as industrial fisheries do!

For the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Blue Economy paradigm is a natural next step in the overall conceptualization and realization of sustainable human development. It mirrors our long-accepted definition of sustainable development as one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Simply put, it is the utilization of ocean resources for human benefit in a manner that sustains the overall ocean resource base into perpetuity.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/blue-economy-sustainable-ocean-economic-paradigm.html

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What is the Blue Economy? Part 2: Show me the money

15 Nov 2018 - The blue economy represents the long-term sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources. This UNDP blog looks at ways this can be financed in the Caribbean.

15 Nov 2018 - Efforts to exploit the Caribbean’s ocean resources are not new; coastal tourism and fisheries are well established industries. However, the blue economy concept represents a (relatively) new paradigm shift in that it is centred on the long-term sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources in both traditional and new ocean-based industries. Part 1 in this blog series offered four policy suggestions for Caribbean governments who wish to pursue this approach. Part 2 looks at ways this can be financed.

While governments may be inspired by the blue economy paradigm shift, their pockets may not be quite so deep. Innovative financing mechanisms – such as those discussed in the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) recent paper “Financing the Blue Economy: A Caribbean Development Opportunity” – will be critical if the sustainable benefits of the blue economy approach are to be realised. This is especially the case in key blue economy sectors, such as marine renewable energy, which can carry high investment costs for relatively small economies.

Marine renewable energy remains an under-explored area in the Caribbean, yet it is one in which investment can – and must – be accelerated. Many Caribbean countries have set themselves ambitious targets to diversify their energy mix. For example, Barbados aims to derive 65% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030; Montserrat is aiming for a 100% renewable energy grid by 2020. Yet investments in renewables are low and the Caribbean region remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Electricity tariffs are high, averaging 35¢/kWh (compared to just 12¢ in the US and 20¢ in the UK).

The region has large untapped sources of renewable energy with huge solar, wind, geothermal and marine energy potential. There are however multiple challenges associated with leveraging private sector investment: limited economies of scale and substantial environmental vulnerabilities diminish the attractiveness of these opportunities for investors. This is coupled with a limited awareness of opportunities, the lack of a high-quality investment pipeline and weak national capacities for project design and implementation. These factors all contribute to high financing costs. Many investments in these areas have, to-date, been financed by bilateral and multilateral development partners; however resources remain limited.

Part 1 of this blog series showed how governments could take policy measures to accelerate private investment in the blue economy through, for example, de-risking investments and improving the business environment. The joint CDB-UNDP paper also shows that innovations in finance can also play an important role to catalyse investment.

For example, contingently recoverable grants (where a grant is converted to a loan should the project go ahead) and new insurance products can help reduce the risks and upfront costs associated with the exploratory phase of capital intensive projects. CDB has explored a mix of loan, grant, and contingently recoverable grant financing on a number of sustainable energy initiatives in its borrowing member countries. This strategy has helped to strengthen governments’ positions when coming to the table with major private sector interests, and enabled them to negotiate fairer terms and resource allocations. Opportunities for blended finance in support of the blue economy also remains underexplored across the Caribbean.

Green and blue bonds should also be explored. Fiji recently became the first small island state to issue a green bond for investments in renewable energy and resilience to climate change. The Seychelles has piloted a blue bond for investments in sustainable fisheries development, with partial credit guarantees issued by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility to help lower interest costs.

High debt ratios in the Caribbean (in 2017, the average public-sector debt stood at 64.3% of GDP compared to 48.3% across emerging and developing countries) make debt-for-nature swaps an attractive avenue to pursue.

Extreme environmental vulnerabilities also create opportunities for new insurance schemes, such as the coral reef insurance being piloted in Mexico by The Nature Conservancy and UNDP. The restoration of key ecosystems which can effectively and rapidly sequester carbon could also help to position Caribbean countries within the international carbon sequestration market. UNDP and Grenada’s Blue Innovation Institute are currently exploring whether impact investment could be harnessed to support coral reef, mangrove and seagrass bed restoration.

Aside from investing in renewable energy and resilience-building ventures, there are opportunities for the Caribbean to transition established industries, e.g. fisheries, tourism and marine transport to more sustainable practices. The implementation of marine reserves or no-take areas as well as more sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices have emerged across the Caribbean and can yield a triple dividend: ecosystem and biodiversity preservation, the protection of livelihoods while at the same time serve as a major tourist attraction. It is equally important that individuals and enterprises operating in these sectors are formalised so they can contribute tax revenues, and access finance and insurance.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/show-me-the-money.html

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Finance, partnerships and innovation: Large ocean states pave the way to the 2030 Agenda

14 Nov 2018 - The old ideas of “smallness” and “remoteness” of SIDS are giving rise to “agility,” “potentiality,” and what are now called “large ocean states.”

14 Nov 2018 - Luis Felipe López-Calva, UNDP - Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) communities have long been blessed with vast ocean and island resources, inspiring rich heritages and cultures. But this geography also exposes them to common challenges, vulnerabilities, indebtedness and dependencies that make their paths towards sustainable development even more complex.

For this reason, nations gathered in Samoa at the 2014 International Conference on SIDS reaffirmed commitments to the sustainable development of SIDS,  identifying 17 priority action areas to help achieve the 2030 Agenda. These priorities range from climate change, to sustainable and inclusive economic growth, gender equality and partnerships.

This week I joined the implementation progress review of the Samoa pathway, which emphasizes concerted actions at the national, regional and global levels. These action areas mirror the common vulnerabilities and challenges SIDS face and provide guidance for the needed joint actions thereafter.

The landscape of SIDS’ vulnerabilities is constantly changing along with the world’s development dynamics. In the recent special report by the IPCC, the vulnerabilities of SIDS were projected to be significantly exacerbated by a 1.5 C warmer climate - threatening SIDS population’s health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, infrastructure, human security, cultural heritages and economic growth.

The anticipated decline of marine fisheries of 3 million metric tons per degree warming would have serious impacts for the Indo-Pacific region and the Arctic. Yet, simultaneously, various development opportunities are in play to help mitigate vulnerabilities and dependencies. Tourism, one of the world’s fastest growing sectors, is becoming the main economic activity for many SIDS, creating employment and generating income and foreign exchange earnings that are equivalent to over 20 percent of GDP in two fifths of the SIDS (where data is available).

Additional public sources of environmental financing, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), are also changing SIDS’ state of affairs. In June 2018, 15 projects totalling $786 million, or 21.4 percent of the total GCF approved funding, began implementation. The projects will increase SIDS’ resilience to the environment and economic shocks and improve the management of their natural resources.

It is critical to recognize that today’s SIDS have evolved away from 2014’s SIDS. Through innovation and the amalgamation of technologies, SIDS are paving a way towards enhanced productivity, resilience and inclusion, by turning some of the challenges they face into opportunities and re-conceptualizing the traditional perceptions of SIDS. The ideas of “smallness” and “remoteness” of SIDS are giving rise to “agility,” “potentiality,” and what we call “large ocean states.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/Large-ocean-states-pave-the-way-to-the-2030Agenda.html

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Meet Vincent Diringer (Vince), UNDP Ocean Action Volunteer

13 Nov 2018 - Vince joined UNDP Ocean Action Hub’s global campaign to #respect and help #SaveOurOcean in September 2018. He shares his story from the campaign.

13 Nov 2018Vince joined the UNDP Ocean Action Hub’s global campaign to respect and help #SaveOurOcean in September 2018. He shares his story from the campaign.

The ocean has always held a special significance for me. As a child I spent most of my holidays with my family in Fiji, where I first learnt the importance that the seas had not only on local culture and history, but also their wellbeing. I grew up in various countries, but my respect and understanding for the oceans would continue to grow. I learnt to sail, got involved with snorkeling, took marine biology electives at school and eventually decided to pursue Environmental Management at James Cook University in Australia’s far north, where I had the Great Barrier Reef at my front door.

From there my interests grew past the oceans. Science, sustainability and conservation were all topics that I wanted to learn more about, to master. Being able to work and volunteer for the United Nations has always been a childhood dream of mine. The opportunity I was given to help the UNDP Ocean Action Hub with identifying and registering different entities’ Voluntary Commitments towards the UN’s Ocean Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 14) was one that I was excited to take part in.

Creating networks of like-minded NGOs, companies and other interested groups to enable them to work towards a common goal is one of the first steps towards not just raising awareness about environmental issues, but also solving them. Working with the Ocean Action Hub to help set up these networks was an eye-opening experience for me. The Hub’s extensive list of Commitments and National Consultations gave me hope that we can all work together to help protect the oceans, being able to add to them felt truly fulfilling.

Although some organizations never answered or weren’t necessarily interested, they are now aware that they weren’t alone in trying to promote sustainable development, that there was indeed a large network in place that they can join; for those who hadn’t started or thought about in participating, my hope is that raising awareness will not only inform them, but push them to do their part! My biggest highlight from working on this project was being able to help the Ocean Action Hub grow. To be a part in promoting SDG 14 was not just fulfilling as a scientist looking to advocate for sustainable resource management, but also as a global citizen with roots to a small island nation where the ocean represents so much more than just a holiday snap - it's #OurCulture, #OurHistory, #OurWayOfLife.

However, it isn’t just Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that are affected by unsustainable ocean use - it's everyone. Education is the key to promote conservation and sustainable development. Being able to advocate for environmental causes also means following through with them! Making smart choices as a consumer, let it be from choosing a plastic-free option or a brand you know sources its produce from sustainable methods are easy transitions to make. Being more aware of your waste, recycling it where applicable and opting for less polluting forms of transport are all steps in the right direction. However, I believe that enrolling in local programs that raise awareness of environmental issues and aim to tackle them head on is one of the best decisions one can make! The pen might be mightier than the sword, but actions speak louder than words. You can make impacts as an individual, but as part of a group, the #SkyIsTheLimit.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ocean-action-hub/meet-vincent-diringer-vince-undp-ocean-action-volunteer/890487104409093/