More than ever, the protection and restoration of coastal habitats offer an opportunity in mitigating multiple challenges, including coastal protection and food security for coastal communities, especially in the Indian Ocean region.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association’s (IORA) Indian Ocean Blue Carbon Hub, established in September 2019, aims to build knowledge and capacity in protecting and restoring blue carbon ecosystems throughout the Indian Ocean.
Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests and are now being recognised for their role in mitigating climate change. These ecosystems also provide an essential role in climate change adaptation. However, if the ecosystems are degraded or damaged, their carbon sink capacity will be lost or adversely affected, and the carbon stored is released, resulting in emissions of carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change. Dedicated conservation efforts should therefore ensure that coastal ecosystems continue to play their role as long-term carbon sinks.
Amongst others, it is crucial to look into harnessing the joint potential of the public and private sectors to address the finance needed while also creating jobs and opportunities for livelihoods, generating new sustainable pathways to rebuild economies recovering from the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Considering this, the webinar “Towards a Sustainable Blue Forest Economy” was hosted by the IORA Blue Carbon Hub and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), in collaboration with the IORA Secretariat. Speakers included Mat Vanderklift from CSIRO; Lauren Drake from Pollination (a specialist climate change advisory and investment firm), Angelique Pouponneau from SeyCCAT (the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust), and Leah Glass from Blue Ventures, Madagascar (a science-led social enterprise); along with Cheryl Rita Kaur from MIMA as the session moderator. The forum was attended by more than 100 participants from around the world.
The expert panel discussing policy challenges in blue carbon.
The discussion focused on current and promising new finance mechanisms, with governments as well as international and regional institutions calling to develop structures to encourage private investment in blue carbon offsets, blue carbon trade, and credit to support further conservation efforts. There are, however, some obstacles in place, including legal and policy challenges.
Overall, the forum agreed that there is a huge potential for IORA countries to benchmark against some of the developed efforts at the country level, as well as to further discuss the need for more streamlined mechanisms in the region. There were also suggestions to make blue carbon investments viable through the integration of blue carbon revenue streams with other aspects, including sustainable fisheries, ecotourism, and coastal infrastructure.
The session included presentations from key experts on the area and interactive discussions with the participants to explore further ideas and perspectives provided on blue carbon finance.
The webinar recording is available at the IORA Blue Carbon Hub link: