Case study: Reef Credits – A New Environmental Market-Based Instrument to Improve Water Quality in the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

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“We estimate that the market could generate 6 Million Reef Credits by 2030, opening the door for more businesses to invest in the future of the reef as part of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.”

GreenCollar (2020)


Reef Credits is a new, voluntary, environmental market scheme that rewards landholders for actions that improve the quality of the run-off from their land into the Great Barrier Reef catchment. When landholders implement projects on their land that meet approved water quality methodologies that demonstrate reduction in nutrients or sediments, they generate Reef Credits. Reef Credits are tradable units that represent a quantifiable volume of nutrient, pesticide or sediment (Reef Credit, 2020). One Reef Credit equates to preventing 1 kg of nitrogen, or 538 kg of sediment, from entering the Great Barrier Reef. Reef Credits are sold to organisations in the public and private sector that are keen to improve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, demonstrate their support for sustainable initiatives or offset their own impacts.

Environmental markets are considered a type of policy response, offering incentives to protect the ecosystem or the services it provides, often complementing other conservation or protection measures. The Reef Credit Scheme is an environmental market instrument that uses standards, accounting methodology (quantification), independent auditing and a registry system to measure and validate pollution prevention that can be bought or sold as a commodity. The system is based on the methodology developed by the US organisation Verra. Reef Credits provide landholders with an additional, diversified income stream over 10-25 years and are generated annually. Under the scheme, landholders implement one (or more) accepted water quality improvement activities based on an accepted methodology. Activities must align with water pollutant reduction targets for the Great Barrier Reef, and must be additional, measurable, monitored and verified by third-party organisations. The concept of additionality refers to the requirement that the activity must be a new undertaking, which is a central notion in other credit schemes as well, such as generating carbon credits.

A new entity, called Eco Markets Australia, has been established to independently manage the Reef Credit Scheme, including adherence to market rules, registry systems and verification. The first credits have already been sold to the private and public sector. Reef Credits do not have a set price and do not function as a cap-and-trade market, but rather as a voluntary scheme. The price of Reef Credits was negotiated between seller and buyer. The Reef Credit Scheme has the potential to improve water quality in other catchment systems (including non-reef ecosystems) because it could be adapted for different catchment ecosystems.

The issue

The Great Barrier Reef is an internationally significant site, a World Heritage area and a national icon. It represents an AU$56 billion asset, provides 64,000 jobs and contributes AU$6 billion to Australia’s economy. However, human impact is threatening this valuable system and recently the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Great Barrier Reef’s conservation outlook as “critical”. Climate change, poor water quality from land-based run-off, coastal development and fishing are the primary causes of the Reef’s decline, but major storms, a crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak and marine debris have also put pressure on the Great Barrier Reef.

Several attempts have been made by public and private organisations to improve water quality, with variable success, but, despite all efforts, the health of the Reef is still declining. Part of the problem is that the Reef represents a public good and is under government control (both Federal and State level), while land along the catchments is under private ownership. Minimum standards for water quality and monitoring are already mandatory under government regulation. Reef Credits seek to capture and incentivise additional, voluntary water quality improvement activities on private land.

The response

In 2017, the Queensland government funded the feasibility study for the Reef Credit Scheme, as part of the Major Integrated Projects initiative for reef water quality improvement. The feasibility study deemed the Reef Credit Scheme potentially viable and led to the establishment of the Reef Credit Secretariat and the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee. The steering committee included leading environmental market project developer GreenCollar, and NFP organisations Terrain NRM and NQ Dry Tropics. In 2018, the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee commissioned Winrock International (USA), a global leader in environmental markets and development, to prepare an Options Paper on how to design, establish and operate a crediting system aimed at reducing pollutant loads to the Great Barrier Reef. This work, along with the engagement of a number of water quality market programmes, participants and founders, and standard development organisations in North America, provided the foundations for the drafting of the Reef Credit Standard and the Programme Guide and the first Reef Credit Methodologies. Throughout 2018, farmers voluntarily identified between 10 and 20 project sites to test Reef Credit Methodologies, including agricultural and grazing practice changes, wetland restoration and gully restoration applications. The project sites were identified through voluntary means with the involvement of regional natural resource management bodies, which are not-for-profit environmental organisations.

Reef Credit governance

The Reef Credit Scheme is administered by Eco Markets Australia, a new, independent, not-for-profit company. The company is governed by a skills-based Board
of Directors. The day-to-day administration of the Reef Credit Standard is delegated to the Reef Credit Secretariat. The Board and Reef Credit Secretariat will be supported on technical aspects of the Reef Credit Standard and Methodologies by a Technical Advisory Committee. The Reef Credit Secretariat function is delivered by Eco-Markets Australia, which has now been formally established as a not-for-profit company in Queensland, Australia and the independent skill based Board appointed and operational.

The Reef Credit Scheme consists of a Reef Credit Guide, a Reef Credit Standard, a Reef Credit Registry, Reef Credit Methodologies and the Reef Credit Projects. The Reef Credit Guide is a document that explains the rationale goals, core principles, participants and processes of the scheme, including how Reef Credit Projects generate, register and issue Reef Credits. The Reef Credit Standard sets out the rules and requirements for developing methodologies and projects, as well as the validation, registration, monitoring, verification, crediting and issuance processes and governance arrangements. The Reef Credit Registry keeps track of Reef Credit transactions and ownership of Reef Credits. The Reef Credit Methodology describes how projects can generate verifiable outcomes. Reef Credit Projects are activities that conform to an approved Reef Credit Methodology.

Partnerships and support

The Reef Credit Scheme was founded by Terrain NRM, NQ Dry Tropics (two natural resource management not-for-profit organisations in Queensland, Australia) and GreenCollar, a private Australian project development company that currently delivers more than half of the Australian land sector carbon. Initial funding by the Queensland government through the Major Integrated Projects initiative for reef water quality was vital in the start-up phase. Winrock International’s extensive experience helped settle on how the scheme would operate. Of course, farmers were integral in developing and pilot testing the methodologies and their participation will continue to be vital for the scheme.

Results, accomplishments and outcomes

To date, two water quality improvement methodologies have been accepted under the Reef Credit Scheme and three are currently under development. The two accepted methodologies are (i) accounting for the reduction in fine sediment run-off through gully rehabilitation through engineered interventions, revegetation or improved grazing management and (ii) accounting for the reduction in nutrient run-off through managed fertiliser application, which targets dissolved inorganic nitrogen loss through more efficient soil and nutrient management practices from agriculture, including sugarcane, bananas, grains and fodder.

The first Reef Credits were generated in the Tully River Catchment, south of Cairns, by a local cane farmer. The project generated 3,125 Reef Credits between January 2018 and December 2019 under the approved method for reduction in nutrient run-off through managed fertiliser application. The first Reef Credits were purchased by HSBC and the Queensland government in October 2020. GreenCollar estimates aim to generate more than 6 million Reef Credits by 2030.


The Reef Credit scheme is the first voluntary environmental market scheme in Australia, barring the carbon and water trading schemes, where government regulation and authorities play a central role. Even though such voluntary environmental markets exist in other countries, such as the USA, the novelty of the scheme in Australia was a challenge in obtaining initial funding for the preparation of the Feasibility Study and Options Paper. Some were sceptical about whether a voluntary scheme could be established within a short time frame and how it would work with other programs and also deliver a tangible outcome.

Environmental market schemes like the Reef Credit Scheme are also often criticised for “rewarding” polluters and this is a challenge. However, it is important to keep in mind that the scheme does not operate on the basis of cap-and-trade and government already has minimum water quality standards and water quality improvement targets in place (both of which may change and become more ambitious over time). Reef Credits incentivise the implementation of additional pollution prevention activities where individual landholders directly receive income. Thus, any new action under the Reef Credit Scheme leads to water quality improvements above and beyond requirements and will have a positive impact on the Reef. Environmental markets can incentivise desired practices but, contrary to regulation, it provides additional revenue for farmers who are already suffering from financial hardship. It can provide individuals and organisation the opportunity to generate income to pay for (and obtain finance to implement) pollution prevention activity that they would otherwise not be able to do.

The novelty of the scheme continues to represent challenges on many fronts. Stakeholders GreenCollar, Terrain NRM and NQ Dry Tropics as well as the State Government of Queensland are all newcomers to environmental markets. GreenCollar is investing considerable time and effort in finding interested and eligible landholders and potential investors and explaining the scheme to them. Setting up and registering Eco Markets Australia as an independent entity also took considerable time.

Key lessons learnt

The Reef Credit Scheme is the first voluntary (non-government-regulated) environmental market credit scheme developed and implemented in Australia. This case provides valuable lessons on how to set up such schemes in developed and developing countries. As it is not restricted to water quality improvement, it can serve as a blueprint for other environmental credit schemes, to achieve biodiversity outcomes for example.

The initial funding by the Queensland government allowed for the commissioning of the Feasibility Study and Options Paper, essential to getting started on the Reef Credit Scheme. It was decided early on that the government would not play a central regulatory role in the scheme (the government is still regulating and monitoring minimum water quality); rather, a new independent entity, Eco Markets Australia, was created to administer the registry and the scheme. This is important for several reasons, including allowing the government to maintain its focus on regulating and overseeing minimum water quality standards and allowing Reef Credits to be pursued entirely through voluntary markets.

Pilot testing water quality improvement projects before the methodologies were fully developed was important for input, but was also challenging. In essence, it meant that the methodologies were developed (rather than tested) during the pilot stage, which was time consuming and sometimes frustrating for the parties involved. However, this option was still the fastest way to develop methodologies in tandem with the scheme administration and this was a priority, given the urgency to develop new investment approaches. As always, partnerships of likeminded individuals who had the tenacity and resourcefulness to see the potential of Reef Credits and pursue this to fruition were key to its success.

Lead contact

GreenCollar contact – Carole Sweatman,
General Manager Water
Email: [email protected]
Eco-Markets Australia Contact – Louise Venz
Email: [email protected]

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Case study: Belize – Towards Expansion of No-Take Areas in the MPA System

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“The fact that our two main commercial species, the spiny lobster and the queen conch, have remained stable for several years is a direct indicator of the success of the combination of protected areas and managed access.”

Beverley Wade, Fisheries Administrator


Belize has a network of 14 marine protected areas (MPAs), with an additional 13 protected fish Spawning Aggregation sites, covering some 23.5 per cent of the country’s marine waters. Only a small proportion of this area is fully protected in no-take areas, and so an initiative was launched in 2013 to identify locations for replenishment zones (the name proposed for areas closed to extraction). This involved a multi-partner programme to gather ecological and socio-economic data and undertake stakeholder consultations. Recommendations for replenishment zones in deep sea areas and re-zoning of three existing MPAs have been approved by government and work is underway to implement these new areas; work is also underway on the remaining recommendations. Two innovative fishery management interventions were developed in parallel, and will contribute to effective management of replenishment zones: 1) a “Managed Access” system whereby fishers are licensed to access certain areas and provided with a mechanism for their involvement in management (described in the Sustainable Fisheries AG case study) ; and 2) the introduction of a new technology and enforcement approaches to assist with reporting.

The issue

Belize has a long history of marine protected area (MPA) establishment and management, with an MPA network covering some 23.5 per cent of the Territorial Sea (which covers the area extending out to ~12 nautical miles from Halfmoon Caye). The network comprises:

  • Nine Marine Reserves under the mandate of the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD), which are zoned: Preservation zones (no extraction); Conservation zones (recreational activities including sport fishing and scuba permitted); General Use zones (artisanal commercial fishing permitted but use of SCUBA
    is prohibited – fishing using free diving, traps and handlines is allowed);
  • Two Wildlife Sanctuaries, two Natural Monuments and one National Park, under the mandate of the Forest Department;
  • Thirteen fish Spawning Aggregation sites, under the mandate of the BFD.

The 2015 National Protected Areas Act made the following a legal requirement: 1) stakeholder and community consultation and participation in the designation or revoking of protected areas; and 2) the use of a standardised management planning process. Most MPAs are therefore managed through co-management arrangements with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), a term that in Belize includes community-based organisations.

Currently, no-take zones account for 7.61% of territorial waters (approx. 0-20 nm offshore) and 6.28% of the EEZ (approx. 20- 200 nm offshore). Fishing is a key activity for coastal communities, both for domestic consumption and for revenue generation through the tourism industry and exports, notably the lucrative queen conch and spiny lobster markets. The Conservation and Preservation zones have been effective in increasing fish biomass within the Marine Reserves but the extent to which they can protect overall marine biodiversity and enable the recovery of damaged or degraded ecosystems is limited by their small size and fragmented nature (Cox et al., 2017). There is now global consensus that at least 10 per cent and preferably much more of marine waters must be closed to extraction for successful marine biodiversity conservation outcomes and mitigation from climate change impacts (Dahlgren and Tewfik, 2015; Roberts et al., 2020).

Belize conservation zone map

The response

The National Replenishment Zone project was established in 2013 through a partnership between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the BFD, with the aim of identifying locations for new or larger no-take zones. These are called “replenishment zones” and are designed to ensure representation of all major marine habitat types in the MPA network, including open deep sea areas that are currently under-represented. The project involved an international collaboration of scientists, led by Belizeans, who worked to identify the new areas, combined with a lengthy process of consultation with stakeholders, which resulted in widespread support and a commitment to stewardship from coastal communities. Technical guidance for the identification of the replenishment zones was developed with support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Green et al., 2017). The proposed new replenishment zones were identified through an evidence-based process, using the software programme MARXAN, which helps identify locations that will maximise potential ecological and socio-economic benefits of national interest while minimising disruption to livelihoods of stakeholders (note to final editors – we could cross refer to the Seychelles case study, where MARXAN was also used ).

A two-phased approach was recommended by the members of the National Replenishment Zones Steering Committee, with Phase 1 focusing on deep sea areas and rezoning of three existing protected areas. WCS first carried out a scientific review of existing areas closed to fishing in order to identify their ecological and socio-economic benefits to Belize. Consultations were held with fishing communities and other stakeholders, particularly commercial and sport fishers, given the inclusion of deep sea areas. The information from the review and anecdotal information collected through community focus group sessions led to the development of a weekly radio drama Punta Fuego about a fictional fishing village, with stories about illegal fishing. A phone-in segment, Talking Fuego, allowed people to discuss their concerns and led to much improved communication and engagement.

In order to be able to implement no-take zones successfully, it is globally recognised that mechanisms are needed to ensure fisher buy-in and to create incentives for compliance. Until 2016, the marine waters of Belize, as in many other countries, were considered “open access” for fishers: adult Belizeans could obtain a commercial licence to fish, provided that gear and (in the case of conch exports, quota) regulations and MPA legislation were respected. The two components that contributed to improved compliance were the introduction of managed access (described in the Sustainable Fisheries AG case study) and new approaches to enforcement, using developments in technology.

The free software-based system, the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), was developed by a group of conservation organisations1 for use in both terrestrial and marine protected areas. This enables patrols to more efficiently monitor human activity including hunting and fishing, undertake biodiversity monitoring and improve enforcement and data analysis (WCS and BFD, 2017). It has been adopted by 12 governments, and is now being used globally in over 600 protected areas, including 40 MPAs. The SMART software, a mobile app with an analysis and mapping interface that can be customised, enables the collection, storage, analysis and communication of data on patrol efforts (e.g. time spent on patrols, areas visited, distances covered), patrol results (e.g. arrests made), threat levels and other enforcement activities on electronic tablets. The developers provide training in its use and a set of best practices for its effective implementation.

A second new technology being studied for improved compliance and monitoring is drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These offer a low-cost solution for identifying infractions and monitoring megafauna (such as turtles, dolphins, and sharks), avoiding the use of costly boat fuel (López and Mulero-Pázmány, 2019). In Belize, as in many countries, patrolling is normally done in small boats, which makes it difficult to cover large areas or undertake systematic surveys for megafauna. With the support of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and WCS, and following a pilot study at Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, trials are underway at Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve,2 using water-landing and waterproof fixed-wing, long-range, multi-camera drones. Additional trials are underway at South Water Caye and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserves with a waterproof drone obtained through a EU grant.

Partnerships and support

The National Replenishment Zone project ran for six years from 2013 to 2019 and was led by The National Replenishment Zones Expansion Steering Committee, which included the BFD as Chair, WCS as Secretary, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), TNC, Belize Federation of Fishers, Belize Fishermen Cooperatives, the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, Belize Forest Department, the National Protected Areas Secretariat, Belize Coast Guard, the Healthy Reefs Initiative, the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations and Toledo Institute for Development. Funding was provided primarily by WCS (from the Oak Foundation, a UK Darwin Initiative Grant, the Summit Foundation and the WCS MPA Fund) with contributions from TNC and the Belize Marine Climate Change Adaptation Project (a World Bank project under the BFD).

The SMART Partnership includes Frankfurt Zoological Society, Global Wildlife Conservation, North Carolina Zoo, Panthera, Peace Parks Foundation, WCS, Wildlife Protection Solutions, World Wildlife Fund and ZSL.

Results, accomplishments and outcomes

In April 2019, the Government approved a joint proposal from the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation to create the first phase of a series of fisheries replenishment zones. Preparation of Statutory Instruments for the new replenishment zones is on-going. The Phase 1 expansion, when implemented, will cover 11.6 per cent of Belize’s marine waters in open or deep sea areas ranging from 200 m to 3,000 m deep, including the most under-represented habitats in the current MPA network. The proposed replenishment zones lie either within or adjacent to the existing MPAs (with the exception of Port Honduras Marine Reserve) as well as in deep waters (see Map). The latter includes an area, covering 6.28% of the EEZ, that extends beyond the Territorial Sea, south of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, which was expanded in 2020 to protect the Corona Reef, at the south-western end of the Cayman Trench. Phase 2 will cover the inshore areas, and requires more engagement, as these areas are most actively used by stakeholders.

Piloted first in 2011, the Managed Access initiative (see the Sustainable Fisheries AG case study ) was initially designed to provide a system that would allow access to fishing within the General Use zones of marine reserves only to bona fide fishers (Martinez et al., 2018) but the success of the pilot initiative led to a national roll-out in 2016 across the Territorial Sea. This means that licensed fishing communities have secured, dedicated access to their own Fishing Area, thereby reducing competition and the incentive to fish illegally. At the same time, communities must take responsibility for helping manage their Fishing Zones and must observe all regulations within their zone including those for no-take areas (see Sustainable Fisheries AG case study).

To help increase the efficiency of enforcement operations, WCS introduced SMART. The Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, Sustainable Development and the Environment, and its corresponding departments, the BFD and the Belize Forest Department, officially adopted the system in 2018. Today, all marine managers, including BFD and NGO co-managers throughout the country, use SMART or SMART Connect (which allows data entries to be linked directly to the national database) to better plan and coordinate patrols. Use of SMART has resulted in the identification of high-priority enforcement areas where there is a greater chance of detecting illicit activity, which means that resources can be deployed more cost-effectively.

More effective management and deployment of patrols and resources has led to an 85 per cent decline in the number of MPA fisheries infractions, and at Glover’s Reef there are anecdotal accounts of a noticeable decrease in infractions since 2009. According to the 2020 Mesoamerican Reef Report Card, Belize now has the highest Reef Health Index in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef region3.


COVID-19: The greatest current environmental, as well as economic and social, challenge for Belize, as for most countries, is recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. All countries and MPAs around the world have suffered a massive negative impact. With the cessation of tourism, many sources of income have dried up. MPA managers have had to focus on ensuring the safety and security of their staff. Reduced visitor numbers and disrupted supply chains for fishery products have significantly affected the livelihoods of local communities that may normally both depend on and help manage MPAs. MPA management is focusing down on core operations to maintain basic functioning. However, there is consensus that effectively managed MPAs will be more resilient and that a sustainable managed ocean, encompassing MPA networks of adequate size, will be an essential component of recovery.

  • Initial resistance from fishers and scepticism from the fisher cooperatives and associations, which led to minimal fisher participation in the early stages; there is still a challenge in ensuring their on-going participation;
  • The time taken to arrange meetings with, and influence, key decision-makers and to maintain their commitment and support;
  • Insufficient capacity and financial resources for the process; sustainable financing is essential to maintain enforcement even though compliance has improved and more cost-effective methods are being introduced. Fishers are concerned that new areas will be declared while enforcement is still lacking for current protected sites; ultimately, there may be a need for large vessels capable of patrolling all the country’s marine waters;
  • The slow process of enacting the necessary legislation and Statutory Instruments;
  • Insufficient research to date to provide evidence of success, which could lead to loss of support. Securing support for additional fishery closures requires demonstrating to stakeholders that closures offer clear and specific benefits to both fisheries and fishers;
  • Technical difficulties with the devices that some organisations use SMART on, which prevents continuous data collection;
  • Lack of meaningful supplementary livelihoods for those fishers affected in the short term was a main concern brought up by fishers during consultations; a technical sub-committee on livelihoods was set up by TNC to try and address some of these issues.

Key lessons learned

  1. Securing support for the additional fishery closures required demonstrating to stakeholders that these provided clear and specific benefits for fisheries and fishers. This was achieved by producing a report as part of the project, which provided good examples and explained the science involved (Dahlgren and Tewfik, 2015).
  2. Sustained engagement of stakeholders with a targeted communications strategy to reach all stakeholders with an interest in the marine environment and the broader public was essential. About 50 per cent of the fishers surveyed after the first season of the radio drama reported listening to it and feeling that it addressed their issues, and there is evidence that it helped change their attitudes.
  3. The parallel Managed Access programme was a complementary component of the initiative and both programmes benefited from the close collaboration and working arrangements that were established between relevant technical staff and steering committees, and the fact that the same key organisations were involved in each programme.
  4. The new enforcement technologies, with the associated training and capacity-building programme for rangers and other staff present on the water, are having clear benefits. With the SMART system, infractions are immediately linked to the licensing system, which allows managers to have more readily accessible information regarding offenders. The use of UAVs, as piloted at Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, is looking very positive for efficient monitoring and enforcement, but further work will be required to roll this technology out nationally and ensure acceptance by stakeholders. The Fisheries Resources Act has provisions to allow for admissibility of evidence (López, and Mulero-Pázmány, 2019).

Lead contacts

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator, Belize Fisheries Department: [email protected]

Adriel Castaneda, Fisheries Officer/EMU Coordinator, Belize Fisheries Department: [email protected]

Nicole Auil Gomez, Country Director, WCS Belize: [email protected]

Ralna Lewis, Assistant Director, WCS Belize: [email protected]


Cox, C., Valdivia, A., McField, M.D., Castillo, K. and Bruno, J.F. (2017) “Establishment of Marine Protected Areas Alone Does Not Restore Coral Reef Communities in Belize.” Marine Ecology Progress Series 563: 65–79.

Dahlgren, C.P. and Tewfik, A. (2015) “Benefits of No-take Zones for Belize and the Wider Caribbean Region”. Proceedings of the 67th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, Christ Church, 3-7 November.

Green, A., Chollett, I., Suárez, A., Dahlgren, C. et al. (2017) “Biophysical Principles for Designing a Network of Replenishment Zones for the Mesoamerican

Reef System”. Technical Report produced by The Nature Conservancy, Comunidad y Biodiversidad, A.C., Smithsonian Institution, Perry Institute for Marine Science, Centro de Estudios Marinos, Healthy Reefs Initiative and Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur.

López, J. and Mulero-Pázmány, M. (2019) “Drones for Conservation in Protected Areas: Present and Future”. Drones 3 (10).

Martinez, V., Castañeda, A., Gongora, M., Wade, B. and Requena, N. (2018) “Managed Access: A Rights-Based Approach to Managing Small-Scale Fisheries in Belize”.

Roberts, C.M., O’Leary, B.C. and Hawkins, J.P. (2020) “Climate Change Mitigation and Nature Conservation Both Require Higher Protected Area Targets”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 375: 20190121.

WCS and BFD (2017) “Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART): Implementation in Belize”.

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World Ocean Day 2021 – The Blue Reset: Building resilient and equitable ocean-based economies post-COVID

This high-level Commonwealth virtual event celebrates World Ocean Day, highlighting how protecting the health of the ocean and coastal communities is critical to national and international economic recovery. Government and private sector leaders will speak on their challenges and experiences resetting and rebuilding equitable resilient ocean economies.

The Blue Reset

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the interconnectivity of nature and humanity on this planet. The ocean economy, which contributes approximately $1.5 trillion annually to the global economy, was particularly hard hit by the pandemic. The links between ocean-based sectors and land-based economies mean that these impacts have had widespread economic and social repercussions.

The pandemic has also offered an unprecedented opportunity to press the ‘blue reset’ to ensure a sustainable and equitable blue recovery so that people and the ocean can thrive for years to come. Discussions will also focus on how the Commonwealth Blue Charter can support post-COVID recovery.


  1300 – 1305   Introduction and housekeeping

  Dr Nicholas Hardman-Mountford FMBA, Head of Oceans and Natural Resources – Trade, Commonwealth Secretariat

  1305 – 1310


  Welcome and Opening Remarks

  Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth

  1310 – 1315   Special Address

  His Excellency Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Republic of Maldives

  1315 – 1350   Roundtable Discussion 

  The Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for Pacific and the Environment, United Kingdom

  Hon Kirk D. M. Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Barbados

  Hon Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

  Mr Josh Thomas, CEO Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australia

  Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth

  1350-1400   Mr Lewis Pugh OIG, Endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans s
  1400 – 1405   Ms Patricia E. Harris, CEO, Bloomberg Philanthropies
  1405 – 1410   Ms Josheena Naggea, Doctoral candidate – Stanford University and Commonwealth Youth Voice
  1410 – 1415   Closing remarks


  • Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
  • His Excellency Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Republic of Maldives
  • Hon. Kirk D. M. Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Barbados
  • Hon. Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Canada
  • The Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for Pacific and the Environment, United Kingdom
  • Josh Thomas, CEO, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australia
  • Patricia E. Harris, CEO, Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Lewis Pugh OIG, Endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans
  • Josheena Naggea, Doctoral candidate at Stanford University and Commonwealth Youth voice



Commonwealth celebrates women in ocean science

Women working in the ocean sector across the Commonwealth have been applauded for breaking gender barriers in traditionally male-dominated industries, laying the groundwork for more gender equity in ocean science.

An inspiring line up of women shared their professional struggles and triumphs, while offering advice for the Commonwealth’s next generation of female marine experts, during a virtual event marking International Women’s Day and Commonwealth Day in March.


The webinar, organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, opened with Secretary-General Patricia Scotland urging countries to support women’s participation in the sector:

“We need women to be inspired early in their careers to take up ocean science and to be encouraged to maintain their engagement. None of our nations or communities can afford to disregard the skills women and girls have to offer.”

The Maldives’ Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, Zaha Waheed recounted her own early career experience as the only female trainee in a research team of men.

She said that while the gender gap has improved in her country – both the Minister and Permanent Secretary of marine resources are women, for example – cultural obstacles remain.

“Our main barrier is attributed to the attitudes and beliefs within our communities – the belief that this is a masculine industry, and that anything to do with the open ocean environment – diving or going to the field for research, is not for girls,” said Hon Waheed.

Global shift

Tackling this stereotype head on is Emily Penn, a skipper and ocean advocate. She founded the pioneering non-profit eXXpedition, which runs all-female sailing research expeditions at sea and online, to investigate the causes of and solutions to ocean plastic pollution.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made us really aware of our vulnerability, [in terms of] our health, our environment, our economy and our politics. We have a chance right now to embrace our global shift moment and to take this moment to reset our priorities,” she said.

Acting Director of the Institute of Marine Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, Rahanna Juman, shared how hard work and perseverance helped her succeed in the face of various challenges over her 25-year career.

“Research is about passion and purpose. The reason why I have been able to survive and grow as a female scientist is because I love what I do,” said Dr Juman.

Fellow panellist and Acting Deputy Chief Fisheries Officer in Antigua and Barbuda, Tricia Lovell, echoed the focus on passion in her advice to early-career women scientists.

As a PhD candidate at the World Maritime University, she said: “Find what makes you passionate and motivated and always seek opportunities for learning… To remain relevant and to make an impact in the ocean sciences, you must be knowledgeable of the current trends.”

Speakers during the virtual women in ocean science event for International Women’s Day

Gender equity report

The event also highlighted a recently-published report titled ‘Gender Equity in Ocean Science’, funded by the Government of Canada as the Commonwealth Blue Charter Champion on Ocean Observations.

The report found that women are under-represented globally in the field of ocean science, particularly in leadership positions. A “leaky pipeline” phenomenon also meant that academic qualifications do not always translate into successful careers for women. While they make up 53% of total Bachelor’s and Master’s degree holders in the world, women only constitute 28% of senior researchers.

Presenting the report, Dr Arran McPherson, Assistant Deputy Minister at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, stated: “Promoting gender equity in all scientific fields is a priority for Canada. In ocean science in particular, we’ve been trying to shine a spotlight on specific challenges that women face, and at the same time highlight role models and opportunities for action.”

Recommendations included ensuring gender equity in decision-making, creating opportunities for mentoring and leadership for women, co-creating ocean science management plans with women and collecting gender-disaggregated data for the sector. The report also called for more capacity building and exchange programmes, as well as support for gender allies.


Opportunity to join eXXpedition Virtual Voyage

Commonwealth Blue Charter is working with eXXpedition, a UK-based company that runs all-female sailing voyages investigating ocean plastic pollution, to offer a bursary place for the next stage of eXXpedition’s Virtual Voyage programme.

For the past five years these missions have been at sea, but given the pandemic the experience is now being offered virtually. This means eXXpedition can continue to support a community of changemakers in taking action against plastic pollution.

From live scientific analysis to collaborative problem solving, the immersive leadership experience is designed to equip and support participants in enacting change in their own country. By bringing the best parts of the journeys at sea to life online, the chosen crew have a unique opportunity to network with talented women from across sectors, deep dive into the cause of and solutions to plastic pollution, and receive one-on-one mentorship from mission leaders to find their unique role in helping solve one of the world’s most pressing issues.

Each Virtual Voyage has a 12-person crew of women from all over the world who will be connecting through an online platform. The full programme involves six interactive sessions and some independent research. The condensed programme will be delivered over the course of a weekend.

Applicants – who must live in or be connected to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu or Australia – are invited to complete an application form here.

PAST EVENT: Argo – A Global Fleet of Robotic Floats to Monitor Ocean Climate Change and Health

Thursday, January 21, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM GMT

Watch the full webinar

Argo is a key component of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) that collects information from inside the ocean using a fleet of robotic instruments that drift with the ocean currents, and move up and down between the deep ocean and the surface.

Over the past 20 years, Argo has collected more than 2 million temperature and salinity profiles of the upper 2000 m of the global ocean. This has transformed our capability to monitor ocean climate change.

Argo floats provide data through satellites when they are at the ocean surface, and this information is made publicly available within 24 hours. The free and open access to data is a critical element of the Argo program, which has facilitated significant improvements of many weather and ocean forecast systems.

Argo float network design

The Argo program is now embarking on a new initiative, Biogeochemical Argo, which will collect observations of ocean chemistry and biology. This will enable scientists to pursue fundamental questions about ocean ecosystems, observe ecosystem health and productivity, and monitor the elemental cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen in the ocean through all seasons of the year.

Such essential data are needed to improve computer models of ocean fisheries and climate, and to monitor and forecast the effects of ocean warming.

Join us on January 21 to hear from speakers:

  • Dr. Blair Greenan, Research Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Prof. Katja Fennel, Killam Professor, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Canada
  • Dr. Nicholas Hardman-Mountford, Head of Oceans & Natural Resources, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Moderator – Ms. Kacie Conrad, Science Program and Policy Advisor, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

webinar speakers

Maldives to co-champion action on coastal fisheries for Commonwealth

Maldives has stepped forward to co-champion the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on sustainable coastal fisheries alongside the current champion country, Kiribati.

The country made the announcement at a virtual seminar, hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

As a new co-champion, Maldives will work with Kiribati, as well as the other members of the action group, to develop strategies on the sustainable use of coastal marine resources across the Commonwealth, covering a third of the world’s national waters.

Resilient fisheries

Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s fisheries have been fully exploited, depleted, or are in a state of collapse, signalling a threat to food security, fishing-dependent livelihoods and marine ecosystem.

Research has found that if the world’s fisheries were sustainably managed, they could provide six times more food than current levels while creating more than 12 million new jobs.

Against this backdrop, the purpose is to ramp up coordinated action and advocacy for a resilient coastal fisheries industry, which benefits both the present and future generations in the face of threats like climate change and overfishing.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We are delighted that Maldives, a large ocean state, will co-champion our Action Group on sustainable governance of fisheries, which has long been the bedrock of the Maldivian economy.

“Their announcement signifies Maldives’ strong commitment to modernising the fisheries sector in a smart, sustainable and responsible way, which works for the people, economy and the ocean.

“This is the primary mandate of our Commonwealth Blue Charter, which brings together our member countries to co-operate and collaborate on national strategies to address shared issues affecting the health and sustainable use of our ocean, while building a global momentum for more ambitious ocean action.”

Ocean sustainability

The fisheries industry is of particular significance for the Commonwealth, particularly for its 24 small island states, including Maldives, which depend heavily on the ocean for sustenance.

Maldives’ Minister of State for Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture Hassan Rasheed said: “As the Commonwealth’s newest member, we remain steadfast in our shared goal of securing the ocean bounty for future generations.

“Fisheries are an integral part of Maldivian identity. The work being done under the Blue Charter is critical, especially for countries like ours, which is extremely dependent on the ocean for fisheries, food security, employment and foreign income.

“We are proud to co-champion the Action Group on sustainable coastal fisheries and take part in an endeavour that contributes towards ocean sustainability at a global level.”

The Blue Charter was agreed by Commonwealth heads of government in April 2018, as a vehicle to drive active co-operation on ocean governance and sustainability.

As of January 2021, 15 countries have stepped forward as ‘champions’ of 10 action groups, each focusing on a different ocean issue, from marine pollution to climate change. Forty-four countries have joined one or more of the 10 action groups.

Common benefits for all

Kiribati’s Secretary for the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development, Dr Agnes Yeeting said: “As a champion, Kiribati looks forward to working with interested members to ensure all activities are supported to address issues encountered by coastal fisheries for a common benefit of all.

“Kiribati cannot progress on sustainable coastal fisheries alone but counts on collaborative efforts from members. Therefore, Kiribati is delighted to have Maldives on board for this common goal.”

The Action Group on Sustainable Coastal Fisheries encourages better stewardship of coastal marine resources through sharing of best practices, promoting sustainable management, and mobilising funding for joint initiatives to develop improved fisheries solutions.

Case Study: Innovative Financing – Debt for Conservation Swap, Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust and the Blue Bonds Plan, Seychelles (on-going)


The Commonwealth Blue Charter is highlighting case studies from the Commonwealth and beyond, as part of a series to spotlight best practice successes and experiences. To share your own case study, please contact us

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“Seychelles’ Blue Economy experiences and successes to date have shown how crucial partnerships can be, especially raising innovative finance and investment. The world’s first Debt Swap for Ocean Conservation and Climate Adaptation and first sovereign Blue Bonds attest this.” Seychelles President Danny Faure, November 2018


Seychelles’ current and future prosperity is intrinsically linked to its marine and coastal assets. However, the 2008 financial crisis left the country with substantial debts and made it difficult to invest in the Blue Economy. An innovative approach to financing was required to gain the most value from Seychelles’ marine and coastal assets as part of a sustainable Blue Economy.

Seychelles pursued an ambitious plan to finance sustainable development of the Blue Economy, through converting US$21.6 million of national debt via the world’s first Blue Economy debt for nature swap, and through launching the world’s first sovereign blue bond. Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) was established to competitively distribute funds from these initiatives to support the management and expansion of the Seychelles Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), sustainable fisheries and other activities that contribute to the conservation, protection and maintenance of biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.

These ongoing initiatives have been very successful. With the support of The Nature Conservancy, the debt conversion enabled the Government of Seychelles to make a policy commitment to safeguard 30 per cent of its Exclusive Economic Zone through MPAs. The Blue Bond raised US$15 million from international investors, demonstrating the potential for countries to harness capital markets for financing the sustainable use of marine resources. The Seychelles Blue Economy Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap was key to the success of the Blue Bonds Plan, providing a clear plan on how the funds would be invested prior to the bonds being issued. Three rounds of the SeyCCAT Blue Grants Fund have already occurred, with the fourth due to open on 6 July 2020. Five SeyCCAT projects have been completed successfully and there are more than 20 on-going SeyCCAT partnerships and projects.

The issue

  • Seychelles has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.37 million km2 (compared with a land area of just 455 km2 ). As a result, Seychelles’ current and future prosperity is intrinsically linked to its marine and coastal assets.
  • The effect of the 2008 global financial crisis was hard felt in Seychelles, with the government facing repayment challenges with total public debt reaching more than 150 per cent of gross domestic product. This debt was restructured under the Paris Club and Seychelles initiated a five-year economic reform programme.
  • The Seychelles Blue Economy Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap: Charting the Future (2018–2030) was developed to guide development of the Seychelles Blue Economy and was approved in January 2018. The Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap provides an integrated approach to ocean-based sustainable development bringing together economy, environment and society.
  • One of the four pillars of the Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap is “Economic diversification and resilience”, which links to one of the sought-after outcomes: increased investment in diversification of existing ocean-based economic sectors to realise greater value and efficiency.
  • The need for greater investment in the Seychelles Blue Economy to achieve the goals and desired outcomes of the Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap required an innovative approach to Blue Economy financing.

The response

Blue Bonds Plan

  • In 2018, Seychelles launched the world’s first sovereign blue bond, designed to support sustainable marine fisheries and fisheries projects.
  • Proceeds from the bond will support the expansion of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), improved governance of priority fisheries and development of the Seychelles Blue Economy.
  • Grants and loans will be provided through the Blue Grants Fund and the Blue Investment Fund, managed respectively by Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) and the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS).

Debt for nature swap

  • The Government of Seychelles sought to undertake the world’s first Blue Economy debt for nature swap, with the aim of converting US$21.6 million of national debt
  • Multiple benefits from the debt for nature swap were envisaged, including: Financing for adaptation to climate change through management of coasts, coral reefs and mangroves; Promoting implementation of a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) for the entire Seychelles EEZ; Approximately 400,000 km2 managed for conservation as MPAs within five years; Implementing the MSP, setting ground rules for what is permitted and where within Seychelles;
  • The project structure included four major milestones; financial negotiations with creditors; national stakeholder consolations; creation of an MSP; and executing the Conservation Actions.

The Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust:

  • SeyCCAT was established in November 2015 to achieve conservation through innovative finance and creative collaborations.
  • SeyCCAT provides sustainable funds to support the management and expansion of the Seychelles MPAs, sustainable fisheries and other activities that contribute to the conservation, protection and maintenance of biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.
  • Proceeds from the Seychelles Blue Bond further capitalise the SeyCCAT Blue Grants Fund to support sustainable-use MPAs and improved governance of priority fisheries.
  • SeyCCAT’s assets are projected to enable the competitive distribution of US$700,000 per year, and the Trust is investigating the feasibility of a Blue Challenge Fund and a Blue Equity Fund.
  • SeyCCAT is committed to developing strong and lasting creative collaborations to advance its mission and to enable the delivery of five objectives to: Support new and existing MPAs and sustainable use zones; Empower fisheries with robust science to improve governance, sustainability, value and market options; Promote the rehabilitation of habitats and ecosystems that have been degraded by human impacts; Develop and implement risk reduction and social resilience plans to support climate change adaptation; Develop business models to secure the sustainable development of Seychelles’ Blue Economy.

For more information about SeyCCAT, see https://

Partnerships and support

Blue Bonds Plan

  • The Seychelles Blue Bond was announced in 2018.
  • The business case for a sovereign blue bond was identified through support from the Prince of Wales’ Charities International Sustainability Unit.
  • Standard Chartered acted as placement agent for the bond and Latham & Watkins LLP advised the World Bank as external counsel. Clifford Chance LLP acted as transaction counsel.
  • A World Bank team comprising experts from its Treasury, Legal, Environmental and Finance groups worked with investors, structured the blue bond and assisted the government in setting up a platform for channelling its proceeds.
  • The Bond is partially guaranteed by a US$5 million guarantee from the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and further supported by a US$5 million concessional loan from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which will partially cover interest payments for the bond.
  • The three international investors in the bond were Calvert Impact Capital, Nuveen and U.S. Headquartered Prudential Financial Inc.
  • SeyCCAT is tasked with managing US$3 million of the US$15 million of the blue bond proceeds. DBS is managing US$12 million

Debt for nature swap

  • The debt for nature swap was made possible by private funders, including the China Global Conservation Fund of The Nature Conservancy, the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Lyda Hill Foundation, the Oak Foundation, Oceans 5, the Turnbull Burnstein Family Charitable Fund and the Waitt Foundation. • Collaborators on the initiative include the governments of Belgium, France, Italy, South Africa and the UK, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), GEF and the Global Island Partnership. • The policy commitment to safeguard 30 per cent of the Seychelles EEZ through MPAs was financed partially through debt conversion with the support of The Nature Conservancy.
  • The debt for nature swap project was a multi-step process, starting with policy commitments in 2012 and ending with SeyCCAT investing in local projects to enhance Blue Economy development in 2017.

The Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust

  • SeyCCAT was established through the Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust of Seychelles Act, 2015. SeyCCAT is a long-term, on-going initiative.
  • SeyCCAT was initially capitalised with proceeds from the Government of Seychelles’ US$21.6 million debt conversion that was completed in 2015.
  • SeyCCAT also attracts capital from philanthropic organisations and continues to seek other innovative mechanisms to boost its assets.
  • Current partners with SeyCCAT include Pew Charitable Trusts, The Nature Conservancy, the World Bank, UNDP, the Government of Seychelles, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association and local partners.

Results, accomplishments and outcomes

Blue Bonds Plan

  • The bond raised US$15 million from international investors, demonstrating the potential for countries to harness capital markets for financing the sustainable use of marine resources.
  • US$3 million of the proceeds from the bond are managed through SeyCCAT to support the management and expansion of Seychelles MPAs, sustainable fisheries and other activities that contribute to the conservation, protection and maintenance of biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.
  • Proceeds from the bond contribute to the World Bank’s South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Program, supporting countries in the region to sustainably manage their fisheries and increase economic benefits from fisheries.
  • The Blue Bond proceeds are issued to SeyCCAT through six tranches of US$500,000 from 2018 to 2023.

Debt for nature swap

  • The journey towards the successful debt for nature swap started in 2012, when Seychelles committed to 30 per cent marine protection at Rio+20; 2013: the proposed debt restructure was discussed between the Seychelles President and the Prince of Wales; 2014: the delegation for Seychelles met main bank bilateral creditors and discussed plans to swap a portion of its external debt for funding for coastal/marine conservation projects; 2105: the Seychelles Government held discussions with key local stakeholders about MSP, and with Paris club creditors, announced the closing of the first-ever debt restricting for climate adaptation; 2016: the Government of Seychelles paid creditors to buy back their debt via a loan from SeyCCAT, funded by grants and a loan from The Nature Conservancy; 2018: SeyCCAT invested in local schemes to protect the offshore environment around the Seychelles archipelago.
  • With support from The Nature Conservancy, the debt conversion enabled the Government of Seychelles to make a policy commitment to safeguard 30 per cent of its EEZ through MPAs.
  • The debt service payments from the debt for nature swap fund three distinct cash flows: Repayment of the impact investor NatureVest; The SeyCCAT Blue Grants Fund, which amounts to an annually distributed US$200,000; Capitalising the SeyCCAT endowment fund with US$151,000 per year, with an expected matured value of US$6.7 million. In total, from the proceeds of the debt swap and the blue bond, SeyCCAT can annually distribute US$700,000.

The Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust

  • Three rounds of the Blue Grants Fund have already occurred, with the fourth opened on 6 July 2020.
  • Five SeyCCAT projects have already been successfully completed, on topics such as knowledge and impacts of artisanal fisheries, a fish identification initiative, restoration of commercially important lobster habitat and developing Blue Economy entrepreneurs.
  • There are more than 20 on-going SeyCCAT partnerships and projects. These span a diverse array of topics, including science and management in fisheries, blue carbon, business development, scholarship and internships, science to support coral conservation, mangrove mapping and monitoring, climate change social adaptation, MPA development, plastic pollution and seabird and shark conservation. See
  • Whilst SeyCCAT exists to develop the Seychelles Blue Economy, the Trust is also committed to sharing learning experiences with other island and coastal states across the Western Indian Ocean.


Accessibility and inclusivity: Making funds available does not guarantee that people or organisations have the capacity to apply for those funds. The Blue Grants Fund is supported by international donors and organisations, who may not always appreciate the local challenges in applying for those funds. For example, the application form was based on a standard EU format that experienced non-governmental organisations may be able to use but local Seychelles stakeholders may not. Steps taken by SeyCCAT to make the application process more accessible and inclusive include:

  • Removing language barriers: In 2019, SeyCCAT translated the application form into Creole (the local language) enabling people to apply in their native language.
  • Reaching out proactively: As well as the threeislands public meeting to attract potential applicants, SeyCCAT also conducted one-to-one meetings and in-person visits with fishing communities, students, young female entrepreneurs, public sector representatives and other groups.
  • Building capacity during the application stages: SeyCCAT and its partners have provided capacitybuilding sessions for the first application stage covering project and budget writing skills, project management, and monitoring and evaluation. The Project Preparation Grant also provides support at the second stage of application, and dedicated facilitators are available to support applicants through mentoring and training. For more information on fostering inclusion and accessibility, see

Administrative concerns: Administering the Blue Grants Fund requires the dedication and enthusiasm of a fulltime team, with appropriate experience and training. The administration team also requires sustainable, long-term funding support. Monitoring and evaluation: To ensure the funds are as effective as envisaged, all Blue Grants Fund projects need to be monitored and evaluated, which requires a considerable amount of time and resources.

  • External support for impact monitoring: The World Bank is looking to help SeyCCAT establish a framework to measure how Blue Grants Fund projects aid progress towards the Seychelles Blue Economy Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Capacity-building for impact monitoring: SeyCCAT is providing Blue Grant Funds projects with the capacity to conduct their own monitoring and evaluation on the success of their projects, through accessible spreadsheets.

Key lessons learnt

Simultaneously invest in capacity. The Blue Bonds have only a six-year disbursement period, and preparing the population so they are able to apply for funding and engage with other initiatives takes time. To make the best of the limited time the finances are available for, future initiatives could look to engage in capacity-building with the population as the deal is being established, so that, when the funds are available, the local capacity is already in place and the population is ready.

Seek sound and worthwhile investments. Finance initiatives need to be large enough to be worthwhile, but not so large as to be too great a risk. Small economies, such as Seychelles and many other island nations, can only absorb small risk. Larger investments mean there is more to lose. There needs to be a robust risk assessment prior to establishing finance initiatives.

Invest in a robust administrator. Sustainable long-term funding to support a good administrator is essential for the initiative to remain innovative and the funds to reach the target audience. Procurement monitoring is essential to ensure projects funds are being spent effectively and responsibly.

Implement environmental and social safeguards. Funding support from the World Bank and partners means that certain standards must be met. Serious consideration needs to be given to the way in which funds are applied, so that there are not any unintended consequences. Supporting new businesses is an important role of the Blue Grants Fund; however, in some cases this may have the potential to increase environmental pressure, which runs counter to the concept of a sustainable Blue Economy, so caution and oversight must be exercised.

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