Pacific Leaders Announce Largest Conservation Effort in History

Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity plans to mobilize high-impact investment for this continent-wide transformation, including the largest conservation effort globally. Credit: Pacific Community

Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity plans to mobilize high-impact investment for this continent-wide transformation, including the largest conservation effort globally. Credit: Pacific Community

By Umar Manzoor Shah
DUBAI, Dec 4 2023 – Pacific people live at the nexus of oceans, climate, and food systems, and the interaction of climate and ocean is raising sea temperatures and threatening habitats and resources vital to the region’s sustenance, Palau’s President Surangel Whipps, Jr., said at the launch of an effort to protect and rejuvenate the region’s ecosystems and empower communities through to the year 2050—in what is considered to be the biggest single conservation effort in history—Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity.

At the event at COP28 on Sunday, the project received a 100-million USD pledge to protect and rejuvenate the region’s ecosystems and empower communities through 2050.

Several world leaders and politicians attended the launch at an event titled ‘Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity: Pacific Leaders Commitment to a Sustainable and Prosperous Blue Pacific: For Our Pacific and for the World.’ 

Whipps told the audience, “No one knows better than us about what works and what hasn’t worked in the Blue Pacific… Despite major efforts by our Pacific communities and long-standing international partners, development and environmental outcomes in the Pacific are not happening at the pace or scale needed to protect the planet or meet our regional needs. The world is not on track to meet any of the 17 sustainable development goals or climate goals by 2030. The Blue Pacific has a pivotal role in correcting the global course by achieving urgent global environmental commitments, including 30 by 30.”

Announcing the $100 million donation, CEO and President of Bezos Earth Fund, Andrew Steer, praised the Pacific Community for “dreaming big, aiming high, and working together”—a quote he attributed to Whipps, as he praised the Pacific community for what will be the biggest conservation effort in history of 1 billion hectares.

Surangel Whipps, Jr. the President of Palau shakes hands with CEO and President of Bezos Earth Fund Andrew Steer after the announcement of a USD 100 m donation to the Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity conservation effort. Credit: Pacific Community

Surangel Whipps, Jr., the President of Palau, shakes hands with CEO and President of Bezos Earth Fund Andrew Steer after the announcement of a USD 100 million donation to the Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity conservation effort. Credit: Pacific Community

Coastal Community builds a seawall. The Pacific Community's Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity aims to conserve 1 billion hectares. Credit: Pacific Community

Coastal Community builds a seawall. The Pacific Community’s Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity aims to conserve 1 billion hectares. Credit: Pacific Community

“This is nowhere enough, but it is important to all of us. If there was ever a time for multilateralism, this is it,” he said.

Tonga’s Prime Minister, Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni, agreed, saying the Pacific region needed genuine cooperation from world leaders in the prevention of natural resources.

“We do not need reports to tell us where we are. We know where we are standing, and that is the reason that we are here. There are initiatives being taken, but more is needed.”

The United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, termed the launch of extreme importance and stated that no prosperity in the Pacific is possible unless concrete measures are taken for its preservation.

He highlighted how putting an immediate ban on illegal fishing is crucial and should be stopped without delay.

Minister of State of the United Kingdom for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, termed climate change a primary threat and said that the UK is keen to combat this threat without delay.

“We need to accelerate global action in terms of our agreements related to climate policy, and we want a genuine partnership in the Pacific for the greater common good,” Mitchell said.

Pertinently, Pacific leaders have been calling for a transformative shift for the Blue Pacific Continent for the objective of what they call ‘2050 Strategy and Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity (UBPP).’

The UBPP proposal invites collaboration from partners and investors, under the leadership of Pacific leaders, to forge ground-breaking partnerships facilitating the realization of this paradigm shift within the current decade.

Pacific leaders committed to an ambitious action plan designed to swiftly access new and additional funding tailored to the specific needs of the region. This plan empowers nations to take charge of their collective development and conservation agendas.

It involves the creation of a coalition platform to attract and coordinate diverse funders, supporting long-term development plans. Additionally, it harnesses the power to convene, access, and leverage funds through existing modalities or establish new ones, bringing catalytic and innovative financing to Pacific communities and organizations.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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