RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS - The World Bank has announced plans for a Pacific Islands ocean investment package to be supported by a number of partners from the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO). The GPO is a coalition of more than 120 countries and organisations, including the World Bank, that has come together to improve the health of the world's oceans. This investment package, under the GPO, will build on existing ocean activities in the region such as the Pacific Oceanscape Framework.
The proposed investment package, which is being discussed with leaders from eight Pacific Island countries, would target priorities where financing gaps have been identified or where innovation and private sector engagement could help to transform markets for ocean goods and services toward greener production. This may include support for:
* improved governance of tuna fisheries to ensure greater benefits for countries and the environment;
* creating value chains and sustainable jobs in near-shore fisheries and coastal development;
* protecting and restoring critical habitats for biodiversity and building ecosystem resilience; and
* reducing pollution through control of sedimentation, recycling and waste management.
The Pacific Ocean is the world's largest ocean area and home to the largest remaining tuna stocks.
For Pacific Island countries the ocean is the most important driver of economic growth and for many countries, it is responsible for providing more than half of all exports. The health of the Pacific Ocean is therefore vital to the livelihoods of all Pacific Islanders and underpins national poverty reduction efforts.
"The Pacific Ocean is inextricably linked to the future of Pacific Island nations," said Marea Hatziolos, senior coastal and marine specialist for the World Bank. "If properly managed, the ocean can be the source of sustainable development and wealth creation for the region.
"But marine resources are neither infinite nor immune to human assault.
"The benefits from the ocean will not be realised without significant investment in management and long-term stewardship. We hope this proposed investment will further build on the efforts by countries, regional organisations and others in the region."
Hatziolos said the Pacific was the first priority of 10 regions expected to be the focus of GPO activities.
"This recognises the tremendous work of the Pacific region in developing fisheries agreements and conservation regimes, and the need to act now to consolidate these efforts and pre-empt future declines."