Develop and Execute a Global Programme aimed at Greater Protection and Restoration of Vital Ocean and Coastal Habitats, and develop a Global Blue Carbon Market as a means of Creating Direct Economic Gain through Habitat Protection

Rationale

© Atoll Ecosystem Project/Ministry of Housing & Environment
(Baa Atoll), Maldives

Vital coastal habitats include those that provide breeding grounds and nurseries for fisheries, have strong biodiversity values, offer blue carbon opportunities, and offer opportunities for sustainable human uses such as ecotourism. The institutional response to this well recognised issue has been inadequate in many countries and in high seas areas. Ecosystem services provided by the marine environment are of crucial importance for food security and poverty eradication, as well as many of the sectors currently driving the economies of coastal nations.

Restoration of habitat and biodiversity values can only occur once protection measures are in place. In some cases this will mean creating new MPAs or Marine Management Areas, and in other cases it will require a change of use to allow key values to be protected including sustainable use. Implementation will require investment from the international community and nations; removal and/or addition of subsidies to change use patterns towards sustainability; other economic instruments (pollution taxes, payment for ecosystem services, etc.); creation and dissemination of research, tools, and capacity building. Buy-in will be required from industry, which seeks a predictable regulatory regime, to introduce sustainable development methods and tools and transition toward a Green Economy. Ultimately however, despite the best efforts of the global community, responsibility for protection and restoration of vital coastal habitats will require implementation from member states, as these habitats generally fall within national jurisdictions.

Economic incentives are one of the means by which increased protection of vital coastal and marine habitats will occur in a Green Economy.

Main objectives of the Proposal

1. Set coastal habitat protection and restoration targets for nations with clear timelines and commitments, and promote the Green Economy through identification and development of tools for protection and sustainable management, including creation of financial sustainability mechanisms, economic valuation (both market and non-market values) of key habitats, promotion of research, and incentives to promote change to more sustainable uses such as ecotourism and small-scale fisheries.

2. Improve institutional capacity at the international and national level to implement tools through subsidising land / ocean use change to more sustainable methods, monitoring and reporting implementation, and building capacity through training.

3. Develop and implement a global strategy on blue carbon, including:

  • a. agreed standards for blue carbon monitoring and certification
  • b. economic valuation methodologies for blue forest ecosystem services.

4. Work with existing international carbon markets to define and implement a blue carbon market for protecting marine and coastal carbon sinks, and set targets for habitat protection in the context of blue carbon.

5. Create global acceptance of ocean and coastal habitats as a new form of tradable carbon market via a global blue carbon fund.

6. Within international climate change policy instruments, create mechanisms to allow the future use of carbon credits for marine and coastal ecosystem carbon capture and effective storage.

Expected results

Increase in the amount and type of protected coastal habitats around the world. Move toward a Green Economy implemented through change to environmentally and socially sustainable, but economically profitable practices, such as ecotourism, small-scale fisheries and sustainable aquaculture practices, and other habitat market values. Provision (or removal, as appropriate) of subsidies and other incentives through partnerships with the private sector/ industry, and institutional capacity building leads to national level of institutional capacity and willingness to change existing practices.

Greater percentage of protected habitats and economic gain through a blue carbon market demonstrate the value of a Blue-Green economic perspective.

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