Costa Rica paves the way to end single-use plastics

18 Jul 2017 by Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica , María Esther Anchía, Minister of Health, Costa Rica and Alice Shackelford, Resident Representative, UNDP Costa Rica

Plastic in the oceanIn Costa Rica, 20 percent of the 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily are not collected. Photo: UNDP
Costa Rica tiene planes ambiciosos e innovadores en su trayectoria de conciliar su desarrollo económico y social con el medioambiente. Hace una década el país anunciaba que sería neutral en carbono para 2021. Ahora anuncia otra meta para los próximos cuatro años: ser el primer país del mundo con una estrategia nacional integral para eliminar los plásticos de un solo uso. Todos ganamos: Costa Rica, las personas y el planeta. Si bien el país ha sido un ejemplo para el mundo al revertir la deforestación y duplicar su cobertura forestal de un 26% en 1984 a más de un 52% este año, hoy en día un 20% de las 4.000 toneladas de residuos sólidos que se producen diariamente no se recolectan y acaban siendo parte del paisaje de ríos y playas costarricenses. … Read more

Saint-Louis, Senegal: the challenge of sustainability

09 Jun 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Saint-Louis is facing a lot of challenges. Chief among them is the dual threat posed by rising waters and overfishing. Both jeopardize the city’s very survival, its unique heritage and economy. Photo courtesy Eddy Graëff / www.saintlouisdusenegal.com
At the Ocean Conference in New York, we were reminded of two essential truths: life below water, with its rich fauna and flora is precious and the livelihoods that depend on it are in danger. This is especially true along the west coast of Africa, and especially in Senegal, a country where at least two thirds of the population live near coastal areas which are receding at an alarming rate (on average 1 to 2 metres per year) due to rising sea levels and rapid urbanization. Few places illustrate the compounded effects of these predicaments with greater urgency than Saint-Louis, Senegal (also known as Ndar), the island city I am proud to call my hometown. … Read more

Global shadow financial system enables the plunder of the world's oceans and seas

08 Jun 2017 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist: Development Finance, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

The UN Ocean Conference aims to reverse the decline in the health of the world’s oceans and seas: Diminishing fish stocks can undermine food security as well as negatively impact the livelihoods of subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fishers. Photo: Dhiraj Singh/UNDP India
In the run up to the Ocean Conference that is ongoing, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life below water. This year, the United Nations hosts its “Ocean Conference” from June 5-9 in New York. Billed as a “game changer” event aiming to reverse the decline in the health of the world’s oceans and seas, it is expected to attract thousands of policymakers, scientists and other stakeholders, to stimulate action in support of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “life below water.” That the event is sorely needed is not in question. The state of the world’s oceans and seas is dire, in large part due to human activities, and in particular to human-induced climate change, pollution and overfishing. … Read more

Pacific Small Island States trailblazing fishery management for sustainable oceans

07 Jun 2017 by Jose Padilla, Technical Advisor, Water and Oceans, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

Sustainable fishing: Over the years, PSIDS have arrived at consensus among themselves placing themselves in a stronger position to institute measures that regulate fishing and at the same time generate substantial revenues from their resources. UNDP photo
In the run up to the Ocean Conference which just started, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life below water Two things came to my mind as I made the long flight from Bangkok to Canberra to participate in the Project Steering Committee meeting of the Pacific Oceanic Fisheries Management Project. First, how future livelihoods and sustainability of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) will be affected by global actions, and second, how the ongoing Ocean Conference presents an opportunity for the global community to create more positive outcomes for local communities. … Read more

Why we need to save our oceans now—not later

05 Jun 2017 by José Vicente Troya, Technical Advisor, Ocean and Water Governance, UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean

UNDP-RBLAC-Jamaica,OldHarborBay3-2014Over 10 million residents of Small Island Developing States depend on the Pacific Ocean for survival. Photo: UNDP Jamaica
What if the blue fades away as seawaters become brown and coral reefs become white as marine grasslands wither and life below water vanishes? This is already happening at a staggering rate. It’s a lose-lose for all: people and planet. Fish stocks are declining. Around 80 percent of fishing is either collapsing or just fully exploited. The ocean is also being polluted at an alarming rate. Fertilizer run-off and 10 to 20 million metric tons of plastic debris enter the oceans each year and destroy biodiversity and ecosystems. At this rate the number of dead zones will increase, and by the year 2050 the oceans could contain more plastic than fish, measured by weight. If we don’t take action now this trend may become irreversible. Recognizing this urgency, country representatives are gathered at the Ocean Conference at the UN headquarters in New York to address marine pollution, declining fisheries, loss of coastal and marine habitat and the vanishing life below water. … Read more

The Ocean Conference: An integrated vision must be delivered

02 Jun 2017 by Jan Kellett, Advisor for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

Man a boatGiven the multiplicity of inter-connected vulnerabilities and risks that SIDS face, the Ocean Conference has the task of delivering a thoroughly integrated vision. Photo: UNDP
At the Ocean Conference, scheduled to take place 5-9 June in New York, nations will gather to discuss how best to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water. This event is critical because it will, for perhaps the first time, focus on how essential our oceans are to our life and livelihoods. Even a glance at the targets and indicators of this goal make that clear: The Ocean SDG is about poverty reduction, economic development, adapting to climate change and protecting the environment, not just the health of the oceans and those who depend on it. Delivering on SDG 14 will help deliver on the other 16 goals and vice versa. … Read more

Tobacco: A threat to our oceans

24 May 2017 by Roy Small, Policy Analyst, HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP

cigarettes and plastic duck in waterCigarette filters are comprised of thousands of chemical ingredients, including arsenic, lead, nicotine and ethyl phenol, all of which leak into aquatic environments. Photo: flickr.com/photos/aceofknaves/
Tobacco is a significant threat to our oceans. Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide, by far the most littered item, with a significant percentage finding their way into our oceans and onto our shores. The problem is only likely to get worse, particularly as smoking rates continue to escalate in many low- and middle-income countries. Less well-known are tobacco’s negative impacts on sustainable development, including on oceanic systems. Yes, you read that right – tobacco is a significant threat to our oceans. Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide, by far the most littered item, with a significant percentage finding their way into our oceans and onto our shores. The problem is only likely to get worse, particularly as smoking rates continue to escalate in many low- and middle-income countries. This “last socially acceptable form of littering” is far more than just an unpleasant aesthetic. Cigarette filters are comprised of thousands of chemical ingredients, including arsenic, lead, nicotine and ethyl phenol, all of which leak into aquatic environments. In one lab study, the leachate from just one cigarette butt, placed into no more than one litre of water, killed half of all exposed marine and freshwater fish. … Read more

Internal compass for the implementation of SDG 14: Putting local people and communities at the centre

19 May 2017 by Sulan Chen, Programme Advisor, International Waters and Chemicals and Waste Management, UNDP

man repairing a fishnetIn Malaysia, the Small Grants Programme supported an initiative to address accidental capture of sea turtles in commercial and artisanal fisheries. Photo: SGP Malaysia
On 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the comprehensive and ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since then, life has continued and gone on in thousands of communities around the world, for whom the SDGs are probably of little significance. Indeed, political declarations or statements, if left with no implementation on the ground, are barely anything more than good wills. If, on the other hand, SDGs are people-centered, the focus should be on local people, communities and the ecosystems they rely on for their survival and prosperity. This, in my view, is the internal compass for the implementation of the SDGs. Now that the upcoming Ocean Conference confronts the world to implement SDG 14: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”, there is a need to strengthen its implementation at the local level. Guided by this internal compass, the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by UNDP has provided financial resources and technical guidance to communities and civil society organizations for the environment and sustainable development. … Read more

Oceans of fortune, oceans of peril

26 Apr 2017 by Clotilde Goeman, Regional Technical Advisor, Climate Change Adaptation and International Waters

Boats landed on DRC's coast are exacerbating shore erosion by displacing sand from the beach.Boats landed on DRC's coast are exacerbating shore erosion by displacing sand from the beach. Photo: UNDP
On Africa’s West Coast, the ocean is everything. For thousands of years, its bounty has provided food for families, employment for fisher folk, remarkable sunsets that attract tourists, ports that carry goods and build economic resilience, and coastal barriers that buffer the earth, cleanse the ocean and create a more sustainable ecosystem. The ocean is hearth and home. But changes in the climate are resulting in rising sea levels, degraded fish stocks, coastal degradation, and more. Making this both an ocean of fortune and an ocean of peril. The west coast of Africa represents a major source of revenues for its communities. In some countries, like Senegal, 66 percent of the population live in coastal areas. … Read more

In Belize, local stewardship key to marine conservation

21 Apr 2017 by Leonel Requena, National Coordinator, GEF Small Grants Programme, UNDP Belize

Local communities are at the forefront of marine resources management and their engagement in conservation and shared governance is crucial to ensuring sustainable use of ocean resources. Photo: Avelino Franco/Fragments of Hope
The reef was in plain sight, a majestic view with sandy white beaches surrounding cayes with magnificent frigate birds and booby birds flying overhead at Halfmoon Caye Natural Monument. I was eager to put on my diving gear and see the wonders of the 186-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Colorful coral reefs, whale sharks, turtles, and hundreds of cubera snappers aggregating three days before full moon at the Gladden Spit Spawning Aggregation Site, in Belize. It was May 2002, and I was participating along with a research team to collect data on Nassau Grouper abundance and distribution which would inform the declaration of eleven Nassau Grouper Spawning Aggregation Sites. Our ocean is rich in biodiversity and is a crucial carbon sink. Coastal wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs support a diverse array of marine life. According to a recent economic study of the Belize Barrier Reef, the estimated services derived for tourism and livelihoods is US$559 million per year with a population of 380,010 people. A healthy reef ensures healthy people and a resilient country. … Read more