Action Group on Ocean and Climate Change

The connection between ocean change and climate change is obvious for people who depend on the ocean for their livelihood. The change in the ocean is reflected in shifts in weather patterns, extreme ocean and weather events, rising ocean temperatures, and reduced fisheries and livelihoods. Islanders and coastal residents live on the frontline of ocean change and climate change.

Ambitious targets to reduce emissions are essential for climate change and ocean health, but by themselves are insufficient. Reducing other human-induced stresses on the ocean and restoring natural marine ecosystems is also essential to build resilience. That means reducing all kinds of pollution (not just plastics) and restoring natural habitats on the coasts and in our oceans. Both funding and commitment will be necessary to deliver a sustainable ocean environment and contribute to a positive climate outcome.

From the largest coastal cities to the smallest villages, there are many ways people can increase their natural resilience to climate change. To succeed, it will require reorganising how natural coastal ‘capital’ is spent, how risks are managed, and how activities are incentivised or de-incentivised.


of Commonwealth countries are small island developing states – those most vulnerable to ocean change and climate change

Fiji has stepped forward to champion the Ocean and Climate Change Action Group. This Group will work with existing networks to improve ocean health through climate action.  It will also look for financial mechanisms to enable a ‘blue carbon’ approach – restoring the ability of coastal ecosystems to store carbon in mangroves, coastal swamps and seagrass.


increase in ocean surface water acidity compared to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution


of the increased atmospheric heat from human activity emissions is absorbed by the oceans


sea surface temperature rise per decade between 1971 and 2010


average annual rate of sea level rise

Case Studies

Climate Vulnerability Assessments in Fiji and South Australia: Two Partnership Models for Measuring Climate Risk Case study

For many governments, an initial step towards preparing for more severe climate impacts is completing a climate vulnerability assessment (CVA), which can help identify the climate-related risks facing a specific community, as well as potential strategies for mitigating those risks.

While there is guidance available for the technical exercise of completing a CVA, one of the most important decisions for a government to make at the outset entails who to involve in the process.

This case study outlines two different partnership models, which may provide useful ideas and examples for Action Group members.

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Case study: Community-led mangrove rest kenya thumbnailCommunity-led Mangrove Restoration and Conservation in Gazi Bay, Kenya: Lessons from Early Blue Carbon Projects

Dozens of “blue carbon” projects are currently underway around the world. But whether or not these projects live up to their potential as significant carbon sinks depends on both their ability to deliver real carbon reductions over a sustained period of time and, equally important, their capacity to deliver real value to the local communities that own them.

This case study provides an overview of an early blue carbon project in Mikoko Pamoja, Kenya, which has achieved both of these goals.

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Case Study on EU ports thumbnail

EU Ports Energy and Carbon Savings Project: Options for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions at Small and Medium-Sized Ports

In 2018, 173 countries adopted a goal to reduce the carbon emissions of global shipping by at least 50 per cent by 2050 (UN Climate Change, 2018). While this effort will focus mainly on changes at the ship level, there is an important role for coastal communities to play in reducing emissions from ports.

To this end, several large ports have made ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction commitments. This case study focuses instead on options for small and medium-sized ports, highlighting the work done through the Ports Energy and Carbon Saving Project (PECS) in Europe.

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More information:


Download The Commonwealth Blue Charter

The Commonwealth Blue Charter – Shared Values, Shared Ocean. A Commonwealth commitment to work together to protect and manage our ocean.