UNDP to boost blue economy in SIDS and coastal LDCs

May 28, 2024
OIC - African Development Trust

Photo: UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge / African Development Trust

New York, May 28 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched its fourth cohort of 13 ocean innovators at a virtual side event during the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States. These innovators offer fresh thinking and novel approaches to a healthier, more resilient ocean, and will benefit vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal Least Developing Countries (LDCs). 

“Heavily reliant on ocean resources yet bearing minimal responsibility for emissions, SIDS confront a myriad of challenges -- from the loss of lives and livelihoods to the degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity, and even forced displacement”, underlines Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.  “While communities in SIDS have remarkable tools and knowledge to mitigate and adapt to climate change, they often lack access to the means to scale them up, including finance and technology,” he added.

The new cohort of innovators, backed by UNDP’s Ocean Innovation Challenge (OIC) with support from Sweden and Norway, will receive up to US$40,000 in financial support and undergo up to six months of intensive mentorship. Their projects range from tackling waste and seaweed farming to enhancing community-based ecotourism and empowering coastal communities, to stimulate socio-economic growth while protecting vital marine ecosystems.

“We have an important role to play in supporting and amplifying the impact of ocean innovations. We encourage partnerships and investments to ensure these promising solutions are scaled up and shared widely, to benefit communities and ecosystems around the world,” emphasizes Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. 

Through its Ocean Promise, UNDP has committed to delivering at least 100 Ocean Innovations by 2030.  The OIC, through catalytic funding from Sida and Norad, supports 13 new innovators in SIDS and LDCs, offering financial and mentorship resources to pilot sustainable blue economy solutions that align with the Sustainable Development Goal 14,.

About the fourth cohort of UNDP Ocean Innovators:

Nature underpins the livelihoods and economies of many SIDS and LDCs. In SIDS, nature-dependent industries like tourism and fisheries can constitute over half of a small island’s GDP. These 13 innovators are at the forefront of safeguarding this natural capital, developing solutions that not only boost the Blue Economy but also build resilience to climate change and other threats.

The seaweed industry in SIDS and coastal LDC holds immense economic potential but faces quality and yield challenges. In Tanzania, Ocean Innovators MAVUNOLAB and SIDI are helping seaweed farmers unlock higher profits by providing improved techniques, tools, and skills in post-harvest processing of seaweeds. In Jamaica, Ocean InnovatorThe AgriShare Company will transform sargassum into valuable organic fertilizer, providing a sustainable soil solution for 20 small farmers. 

Ocean innovators African Development Trust – ADT in Somalia, ONG MARAPA in São Tomé and Príncipe, TMSU International in Togo, and ACAMBIDECin Mozambique focus on initiatives engaging coastal communities such as training women in essential skills, providing solar food dehydrators, introducing beekeeping to fisherfolk, and revitalizing tourism in marine habitats. These projects aim to improve livelihoods and income, gender equality, sustainable food security, and ecological conservation within coastal regions.

Coral Garden Conservation in Mauritius focuses on using nature-based solutions to combat coastal erosion in Mauritius. Bajan Digital Creations Inc. in Barbados introduces underwater robots to monitor coral reefs in the Caribbean. Both initiatives aim to protect the environment, promote sustainable practices, and benefit local communities.

The Ocean Innovators Association Mar Mozambique and Centro de Estudos Costeiros - Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, Eco Marine Consultants Ltd in Mauritius, and RENAFEP-MADA in Madagascar are focusing on sustainable fisheries. These initiatives will implementadvanced and ecological techniques for octopus and crab fisheries and establish conservation infrastructure to improve seafood quality and prevent spoilage. 

For more information, visit https://oceaninnovationchallenge.org.