SIDS GBN - Thematic Areas - Oceans

The Ocean Economy and SIDS

Ocean ValueData Source: WWF Report – Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action 2015The Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of SIDS represents some 30 per cent of all oceans and seas and for most, their EEZs exceed by far their total terrestrial space. Given the importance of EEZs to SIDS, many countries – in particular in the Pacific – have been working to formulate regional ocean frameworks where EEZs and the resources therein are jointly managed.

In 2012, SIDS exports of fish produce reached US$1.75 billion, some 7 per cent of their total exports. For SIDS and small coastal economies this is a clear opportunity that needs to be consolidated, especially if they can set appropriate policies to ensure that domestic firms catch and process the fish and fish products locally or regionally.

At the global level, the newly adopted 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development calls for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources. In particular, Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) contains ten targets, addressing: marine pollution; marine and coastal ecosystems; ocean acidification; overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destructive fishing practices; conservation; harmful fisheries subsidies; economic benefits for small island developing states and least developed countries; and, as means of implementation, increasing scientific knowledge, market access for small-scale artisanal fishers, and implementing international law, among others.

Particularly for SIDS, Oceans provide food security, job creation, outdoor recreational opportunities and are furthermore embedded within the culture and livelihoods of SIDS peoples. For many small islands they could more aptly be referred to as Large Ocean States, since oceans and seas constitute a much larger geographic area than their inland territory, especially when the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is taken into account.

Challenges for SIDS

Insufficient human and institutional capacity in ocean management, research, and data collection are major challenges for many SIDS. Additionally, risks associated with climate change including rising sea temperatures and sea levels, ocean acidification and its relativity to reef degradation, intensification of hurricanes and increased frequency of both droughts and floods.

Estimations by the World Bank and FAO indicate that overfishing and pollution are diminishing the potential yield of fish stocks and other marine resources by US$50 billion per year – equivalent to more than half the value of the global seafood trade. The impacts of climate change are also expected to fundamentally alter the fishing industry globally and for SIDS. For instance, due to changes in water temperatures, migration patterns for tropical species are being altered which is likely to have negative impacts on the fishing industry in SIDS.

For further research, the report by WWF: Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action 2015 illustrates figures and includes analyses of the economic values and losses of Oceans; whilst The Ocean Economy: Opportunities and Challenges for Small Island Developing States, a joint publication by UNCTAD and the Commonwealth Secretariat, details issues, proposes recommendations and highlights the way forward for the Ocean Economy.

Role of Public and Private Sector Partnerships

For SIDS, Public and Private Sector Partnerships offer increased availability to capital, more global knowledge based solutions and networking mechanisms that allow for more inclusive means of implementation towards the sustainable management of their coastal and marine resources.

The SIDS Action Platform has been developed to facilitate partnerships and support the follow up to the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS Conference). It constitutes a partnerships platform,  in which some 300 partnerships have been registered; a partnership framework, to ensure the full implementation of the Barbados Program of Action, the Mauritius Strategy and the Samoa Pathway; and a UN Implementation Matrix, an accountability framework and a working tool to promote and monitor progress.

Featured Partnerships from the 2014 Private Sector Partnership Forum


The Ocean Program is working with the Government of Palau in utilizing technology and mapping ocean spaces to monitor the country’s vast ocean spaces. Google has also teamed up with the National Geographic Society, the Waitt Foundation and other partners, to inspire care of the oceans under the banner Mission Blue. To learn more about the Google Ocean Program, click here.


The Waitt Foundation showcased its partnership with the National Geographic Society and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The Waitt Foundation, SPREP and the Pristine Seas Project of the National Geographic Society will partner to focus their collective work on marine resource conservation and the associated sustainable economic development of small-island developing states in the Pacific region. To learn more about this partnership, click here.


The voyage began in 2013 and will continue through 2017 as the canoes sail across the Earth’s oceans to join and grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world.  The Worldwide Voyage has been made possible through collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including the private sector and aims to engage all of ‘Island Earth’ by bridging traditional and new technologies to live sustainably and creating global partnerships.  To learn more about the Worldwide Voyage, click here.


Existing Partnerships

Global Island Partnership (GLISPA): assists islands conserve and sustainably utilize natural resources that support people, cultures and livelihoods in their island homes around the world.


Coral Triangle Initiative
is a multilateral partnership of six countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, working together to sustain marine and coastal resources by addressing food security, climate change and marine biodiversity.


Caribbean Challenge is a conservation initiative bringing together governments, companies and partners to accelerate action on conservation in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Biodiversity Fund has been established to support achievement of the CCI commitments by 2020.


Micronesia Challenge is a commitment by five governments – Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, US Territory of Guam and the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands – to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 30% of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.


Pacific Mangroves Initiative (PMI) is a partnership-based initiative promoting investment and action for the sustainable future of mangroves in the Pacific Islands. PMI began in 2009 with the mission to assist Pacific Island countries and territories to implement sound practices and capacity building in mangrove management.


Pacific Invasive Partnership (PIP) draws from the expertise and resources of its membership which consists of inter-governmental organizations, academic and scientific research institutions and international organizations to assist national governments on issues of bio-security, and invasive species.


Regional Seas is a UNEP Program which aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment, by engaging neighbouring countries in comprehensive and specific actions to protect their shared marine environment.


Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities aims at preventing the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities by facilitating the realization of the duty of States to preserve and protect the marine environment.


The Partnership on Development of the fisheries value chain for rural development and food security aims at strengthening the productive and trade capacity of small-scale businesses in the Tuna fisheries value chain for rural development and food security in the South Pacific.


The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission seeks to address and resolve problems in the management of high seas fisheries in respect to conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks.


Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO): The Global Partnership for Oceans was launched in 2012 as a new approach to restoring ocean health. It seeks to mobilize finance and knowledge to activate proven solutions for the benefit of communities, countries and global well-being.

To find out more on existing and the potential to establish new Partnerships, visit our Support Page.

Featured Photo Credit: Martine Perret/UN Photo
Ocean Value Photo Credit: Martine Perret/UN Photo
Data: Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action 2015