The ADB’s president Takehiko Nakao announced the massive funding boost saying: “The prosperity of our region depends on healthy oceans and sustainable development.
“We must work toward a more resilient future, where humanity and oceans thrive together.”
The action plan will support the efforts of the bank’s Developing Member Countries, many of which are in the Pacific, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 14 Life Below Water. That is to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution.
The $5 billion Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainble Blue Economies will expand financing and support, including technical assistance, for ocean health and marine economy projects from 2019 to 2024.
It will focus on four areas: creating inclusive livelihoods and business opportunities in sustainable tourism and fisheries; protecting and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems and key rivers; reducing land-based sources of marine pollution, including plastics, wastewater, and agricultural runoff; and improving sustainability in port and coastal infrastructure development.
Nakao said the Asia and the Pacific region is at the epicentre of a major crisis in marine plastic pollution, threatening the productivity of the region’s marine economies, which are crucial to poverty reduction.
He said as an example: “Among the 10 rivers transporting 88 per cent to 95 per cent of plastics into the sea worldwide, eight are in the region.”
“Ocean ecosystems have been pushed to the brink of collapse by the threats of climate change, pollution, and illegal and unregulated fishing, among others.
“Unless immediate action is taken, about 90 per cent of Asia and the Pacific’s coral reefs will be dead by 2050, and all commercially exploitable fish stocks will disappear by then. This will significantly threaten food security, the global economy, and livelihoods, especially among millions of poor and vulnerable communities in the region.”
One of the new proposals in the action plan is to launch an Oceans Financing Initiative to draw in private sector investment in “bankable projects that will help improve ocean health”.
Nakao says the initiative will provide technical assistance grants and funding from ADB and other donors to reduce the technical and financial risks of projects. “This will be done through instruments such as credit risk guarantees and capital market ‘blue bonds’.”
- Richard Moore in Nadi, Fiji