Understanding how climate change affects the oceans is key to the future of Small Island Developing States.
Arendal, Norway, 1 October 2015 — A new international initiative called Blue Guardians was recently launched by Former U.S. President Clinton to help address the urgent need for action against climate change, including recognizing the role of oceans in climate change resilience and mitigation. It will support coastal communities, marine and fisheries conservation, and clean renewable energy and promote the development of 39 sustainable island economies while increasing their resilience to climate change.
Blue Guardians aims to protect coasts and oceans and enable blue economies through realizing the true value of natural sovereign wealth for Small Islands and Developing States (SIDS) and enabling sound and sustainable management of these resources.
“Climate change is hurting the sea which is the lifeblood of our Blue Planet,” Seychelles President James Michel told an audience at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City. “National action to conserve the oceans is necessary,” Michel said, adding that on a global scale “increased sustainable global governance” will “determine the future of the earth by saving the ocean.”
Blue Guardians will be managed by an Executive Steering Committee comprising SIDS member states and includes leading technology and conservation partners, including DigitalGlobe, the Clinton Climate Initiative (part of the Clinton Foundation), the World Bank, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Blue Climate Solutions (a project of The Ocean Foundation), and GRID-Arendal, a centre collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Its goal is to raise a $100 million multi-donor trust fund to be managed by the World Bank. The trust fund will create a foundation for DIDS to establish their own development priorities while having the necessary tools to make informed decisions about their resources. To achieve this ambitious goal, Blue Guardians will need strong education, outreach and media support.
A first stage of the initiative will be to conduct a climate change hazard and vulnerability assessment to map the most vulnerable states, provinces and cities for each nation. The assessments will help island governments to identity priorities for coastal, marine and energy resource management and investment. These priorities will support national climate resilience strategies and sustainable investment projects to be developed by each SIDS government.
Blue Guardians draws on the experiences of the Shelf Programme, which over the past ten years successfully supported developing coastal and island states to recognize the outer limits of their maritime jurisdiction in order to advance the peaceful governance of the ocean, the protection of the environment and the sustainable use of resources. The Shelf Programme was managed by GRID-Arendal with support from the Government of Norway.
Natural values that the partnership will explore include “Blue Carbon”, a concept that recognizes how healthy coasts and oceans may help reduce the effects of climate change, including how mangrove forests and seagrass meadows can fix and store carbon pollution at rates and amounts comparable to tropical forests.
“Oceans are the largest natural carbon sinks on earth,” said Dymphna van der Lans, CEO of the Clinton Climate Initiative, in a communication issued by DigitalGlobe. “Maintaining healthy oceans and resilient coasts is vital to reverse the effects of climate change.”
GRID-Arendal will support and manage the partnership through the Blue Forests Project, an international initiative of UNEP supported by the Global Environment Facility and partners worldwide. The Blue Forest Project is a $27.7 million effort that explores sustainable coastal and marine management through the lens of the recognizing the value of coastal and marine ecosystem services including Blue Carbon. It includes project sites in Mozambique, Madagascar, Ecuador, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates and Central America.
“GRID-Arendal looks forward to facilitating the Blue Guardians initiative through its existing marine programmes such as Blue Carbon and Marine and Spatial Planning,” said Peter Harris, Managing Director of GRID-Arendal. “We look forward to continued positive progress towards sound environmental management and sustainable development for developing coastal and island states through this innovative and timely effort.”
For further info, contact:
Steven Lutz, Programme Leader, Blue Carbon, GRID-Arendal, Tel: +47 941 696 86, E-mail: Steven.Lutz@grida.no
Tiina Kurvits, Project Manager, Ecosystem Management, GRID-Arendal, Tel: +1 (613) 262-3395
Blue Guardians Partnership Established to Protect Oceans and Improve Small Island Resiliency (DigitalGlobe):
The Shelf Programme: A decade of successfully helping to secure the sovereign maritime rights of developing Coastal States (GRID-Arendal):
UNEP/GEF Blue Forests Project: