As SIDS work to sustainably rebuild their economies following the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to highlight the opportunities of the ocean for resilient low-carbon growth. In a Blue Economy and Large Ocean States approach, the ocean is central for job creation, improved livelihoods, climate resilience, food security and competitive exports. Two conditions are of paramount importance to ensure this transformation in SIDS: protection of ocean health and unlocking of private investments.
This week was marked by two important events aiming at mobilizing partnerships and commitments to realize these two conditions - both hosted by the Republic of Palau. Palau has led the world in ocean innovations and protection measures, hosting one of the largest marine protected areas in the world—the Palau National Marine Sanctuary— which includes 80 percent of the country’s exclusive economic zone.
First, the SIDS Global Business Forum Network was held on April 12 in Palau, focused on ocean partnerships to enhance resilience in island nations and called for private sector partnerships for ocean-based sectors, to unlock new, sustainable economic opportunities that can foster diversification and resilience in SIDS. While the public sector can provide the enabling environment to accelerate the blue economy, private sector partnerships and additional financial resources are needed to operationalize this transformation through the development of poorly explored ocean sectors like renewable marine energies, aquaculture, and marine biotechnologies.
The second major event this week is the 7th Our Ocean Conference co-hosted by the Republic of Palau and the United States. The President of Palau Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., and the United States’ Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John F. Kerry, called on countries to "help make 2022 a turning point in protecting our ocean, while securing healthier communities and a cleaner planet” by decarbonizing the shipping sector, protecting and restoring blue carbon ecosystems, promoting sustainable fisheries, and confronting marine pollution.
In SIDS, the full development potential cannot be realized through the blue economy alone, and the ongoing digital revolution will be a formidable catalyst for this transformation. UNDP’s SIDS offer Rising up for SIDS, warrants an integrated approach where amplifying climate action and catalyzing digital transformation are also part of the equation. In this issue of the SIDS Bulletin, we highlight these interlinkages by showcasing how digital platforms are supporting community solar investment in Barbados, dialogues on climate action in the Marshall Islands, tree-planting in Comoros, a biosphere reserve in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and a new partnership to end plastic waste in Samoa.
Read the full SIDS Bulletin issue
Image: Charly W. Karl