COP 22: FAO, World Bank, AfDB pledge support for ocean economies

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Bank and the African Development Bank has announced the African Package for Climate-Resilient Ocean Economies.

The announcement was made at a special Oceans Action Event at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22), which brought together over 400 high-level participants from around the world to advance oceans and climate change issues and to pledge concrete actions in support of the objectives of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 14, which is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

The global ocean is fundamental to sustaining life on earth. It is a major carbon sink; it absorbs heat, and produces half the oxygen we breathe. It sustains the lives and livelihoods of the coastal and island communities who call it home, and who rely on its bounty to meet their nutritional needs.

The important role our oceans play was recognised at the 43rd Session of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Nairobi, Kenya earlier this year, which decided to prepare a special, scientific report on climate change and the oceans.

But while oceans are key to mitigating climate change, a warming planet also places them, and the services they provide, at great risk. Climate variability and change, habitat degradation and ocean acidification all pose additional risks to the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans, and to the well-being of dependent coastal and island communities.

This ambitious package of technical and financial assistance by these organisations, will support ocean economies in Africa, and build greater resilience of coastal areas to climate change, tailoring approaches based on the countries’ specific priorities and objectives. The initiative will mobilise $500-900 million and implement programmes linked to climate change adaptation and mitigation over the period 2017-2020.

According to Maria Helena Semedo, FAO’s Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources, “These ambitious programmes aimed at strengthening the resilience of African coastal communities are critical to meeting the challenges and opportunities of climate change, especially for vulnerable Small Island Development States.”

World Bank Group Vice President for Sustainable Development, Laura Tuck, said “The package could make a significant contribution to meeting the adaptation needs of African countries as they develop their ocean economies. We plan to ramp up our own concessional financing in this area and look forward to working with our partners to increase the effectiveness of overall development assistance.”