New Investment in Papua New Guinea’s coral reefs and blue economy

October 29, 2021

Papua New Guinea is classified as one of seventeen “megadiverse” countries in the world and its marine ecosystems are of international significance. Photo: Migration Media

The Global Fund for Coral Reefs has announced critical investment in Papua New Guinea to promote marine conservation and stimulate growth of this country’s new 'blue economy'.

Launched as part of a $125 million investment for coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the newly approved Joint Programme led by the United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea will establish a Blue Economy Enterprise Incubation Facility. This will provide starting capital and technical assistance for local reef-positive enterprise development with an emphasis on women-led initiatives.

Papua New Guinea is classified as one of seventeen “megadiverse” countries in the world and its marine ecosystems are of international significance. Its coral reefs are part of the Coral Triangle – the area with the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world. Despite its extraordinary natural heritage, most of Papua New Guinea’s highly biodiverse marine and coastal ecosystems are not well protected or resourced. This leaves sustainable livelihoods opportunities linked to the marine environment under-explored.

The Blue Economy model aims to improve human wellbeing and social equity with coastal states encouraging inclusive participation of all social groups and sectors. This will protect, support and develop among other things, traditional culture, carbon sequestration, and coastal resilience to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

The new Joint Programme ‘Gutpla solwara, gutpla bisnis’ (Good oceans, good business) between UNDP and the UN Capital Development Fund will support local blue enterprises, leverage local skills and ultimately unlock private capital from domestic and international sources by demonstrating the viability of reef-first enterprise models. The project will initially focus on Kimbe Bay, West New Britain and Milne Bay, Louisiade Archipelago. Both sites are high in biodiversity and encompass significant areas of coral reef.

The Blue Economy supports all Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG14 ‘life below water’, to sustainably manage, protect and preserve our oceans for the sake of present and future generations.

“Papua New Guinea’s abundant ocean resources contain significant potential to catalyse new sustainable economic opportunities for nearly ten percent of the population that live within one kilometre of the sea. The UN Joint Programme will help to stimulate the growth of Papua New Guinea’s new blue economy while contributing significantly to the conservation of valuable marine environments and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.” said Mr. Dirk Wagener, Resident Coordinator ai, United Nations in Papua New Guinea.

The Global Fund for Coral Reefs is a blended finance instrument to mobilise action and resources to protect and restore coral reef ecosystems. It provides grant funding and private capital to support sustainable interventions to save coral reefs and the communities that rely on them. This investment is the first in Papua New Guinea by the GFCR and will leverage additional partners and funding for the preservation of Papua New Guinea’s marine environment - a major achievement for coral and climate resilience.