Individual Transferable Quotas for Cod Fisheries, Iceland (on-going)

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“Iceland is one of the largest fisheries nations in the North Atlantic and is proud of its reputation in sustainable fisheries. I am therefore happy to announce that we will continue to contribute to responsible fisheries, following the advice of scientists to the fullest in our total catch decisions. For the future we need to further strengthen research and make sure we have the best possible information at each point in time to base reliable decisions on.” – Icelandic Minister of Fisheries Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, 2014


The fishing industry is one of the main pillars of the Icelandic economy. Cod makes up the largest proportion of the catch of coastal vessels and is currently the second most important species in terms of weight landed and the most important on average in terms of volume. Following concern about increasingly unsustainable exploitation, a comprehensive statutory system of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) was introduced in 1990, giving fishers permanent quota shares as an incentive to take a long-term view on the harvesting and management of the resources. Species-specific total allowable catches are set by the regulator and a proportion (quota) allocated to individual fishers or fishing companies based on fishing experience (grandfather rights). In 2009, a licensed coastal fishery system was introduced for hand-lining and longlining (mainly cod) in the summer months, to try and ease access for new entrants.

The ITQ system works alongside other management measures such as the closure of spawning grounds as well as restrictions on gear types. The ITQ reform process was driven primarily by scientists, politicians and public servants. On-going stock assessment surveys are conducted in close cooperation with the fishing industry.

The economic performance of the fishing industry has improved since the quota system and other supporting measures were introduced. However, it has led the coastal fisheries sector to consolidate, making it difficult for new fishers to enter because of the cost of purchasing a licence.

Icelandic cod are currently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and included in the Food and Agriculture Organization-based Iceland Responsible Fisheries Management Certification Programme.

The issue

Fishing in Iceland expanded considerably after World War II following a significant increase in the size of the fleet and technological advances.

Increasingly unsustainable exploitation became a serious problem and this continued to be a concern despite the introduction of various restrictions, such as limitations on the number of days at sea and on the type of gear used, as well as setting total allowable catches (TACs). Subsides for scrapping fishing vessels and restrictions on access by foreign fleets were also introduced but, despite these, fisheries continued to suffer from overexploitation. The need for urgent reform was highlighted by Iceland’s Marine Resource Institute in the 1970s and 1980s.

The fishing industry is one of the main pillars of the Icelandic economy. At the present time, cod makes up the largest proportion of the catch of coastal vessels and it is the third most important species in terms of weight landed.

The response

A comprehensive statutory system of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) was introduced in 1990, giving fishers permanent quota shares as an incentive to take a long-term view on the harvesting and management of the resources. The Fisheries Act 1990 describes the objectives as “preservation and efficient use of resources to lay the foundation for long-term employment and settlement in the country”.

Species-specific TACs are set on an annual basis by the regulator and a proportion (quota) is allocated to individual fishers or fishing companies based on fishing experience (grandfather rights). Quota shares can be leased or sold on, for example if vessels opt to leave the industry.

The smallest (coastal) boats were originally exempt, to conserve employment in rural villages, but, after attempts to reduce the effort of these vessels failed, they were also required to enter the ITQ system. In 2009, a licensed coastal fishery system was introduced for hand-lining and longlining (mainly cod), with around 10 per cent of the quota reserved for coastal fisheries to try and safeguard this fishery and ease access for new entrants.

There are four defined coastal fishing zones, and fishers apply to fish in one of these zones in four-monthly blocks (three fishing periods each year). Once allocation has occurred, fishing is open access, with fishers competing to catch as much fish as quickly as possible but under certain conditions. There is a 650 kg/day landing limit, with penalties for overfishing and restrictions on permitted days at sea as well as on hours of fishing each day.

The ITQ system works alongside other management measures such as the closure of spawning grounds and areas to protect juvenile fish, as well as restrictions on gear types for certain time periods and fishing grounds.

Partnerships and support

The ITQ reform process was primarily driven by scientists, politicians and public servants with limited initial stakeholder involvement, as the government was keen to address what was seen as an urgent threat to an economically important industry.

Stock assessment surveys are conducted by the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, which works in close cooperation with the fishing industry and other stakeholders. Formal committees and focus groups have been established to enhance understanding, trust and quality of marine research.

Results, accomplishments and outcomes

Fishing effort has reduced drastically and fishing pressure on cod in Icelandic fishing grounds has declined; in 2019, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea reported that it was at a historic low. The spawning stock biomass of cod has stabilised and has begun to recover, and recruitment has been relatively stable since 1988 (see figures below).

The economic performance of the fishing industry has improved significantly since the quota system was adopted. Higher productivity and increased focus on value and quality has replaced the early emphasis on quantity and tonnage. This is not entirely attributable to the ITQ system, however: several other important factors, such as technological progress, effective auction markets and an increasingly efficient marketdriven industry, have also played a part. The successful economics of the Icelandic fisheries are such that the industry is self-financing with no government subsidy required.

Icelandic cod caught by gill/fixed net, longline and demersal trawls are currently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and, since 2010, included in the Food and Agriculture Organization-based Iceland Responsible Fisheries Management Certification Programme.

The coastal sector has consolidated, making it more difficult to enter on account of higher costs (investment/capital). The economic and environmental consequences have been positive but there have also been social implications. For example, the number of employees in fisheries has decreased by 40 per cent in the past 25 years, as the sector has become much more efficient. On the other hand, some communities, which were previously not considered fishing villages, such as Arnarstapi, have grown in size, with fishing becoming a new and important part of their economy.


While there have been overall economic gains there have been both winners and losers.

The level of initial stakeholder involvement was limited, with some industry stakeholders, such as fishers and people whose livelihoods depended to a great extent on fishing, not explicitly engaged. This was deliberate, to speed up the process to avert a crisis, but required subsequent agreement over exemptions and amendments to the system as well as efforts to better distribute the benefits of this common resource, such as regional quotas to help communities rather than the fishing firms directly.

The small vessel fleet (<15 metres), operated largely from small fishing villages, was severely affected, as optimisation and aggregation of quota shares by the largest seafood companies left small traditional fishing villages with little or no fishing rights. Around 75 per cent of the quotas now belong to 25 of the largest vessel operators and fishing companies in Iceland. Concentration of fishing rights has also gravitated towards a few big fishing harbours.

Cod catches are now largely in line with TACs; however, there remain some infractions by coastal fleets exceeding their landing allowance. There are substantial financial penalties in such cases, and the government is considering whether any further adjustments to the system are required.

Key lessons learnt

Complications, such as the need for piecemeal amendments, can arise with reforms where certain fleet segments are not treated in the same way, as demonstrated by the initial exemption of small-scale fishers from the ITQ system.

Regional quotas have been important to ensure some quota is given to towns or regions where fishing is the mainstay of the economy and therefore to help communities rather than the fishing firms directly. The effects differ widely from one region to another; they have clearly benefited the region around the capital because of its proximity to some of the regions that have received such quotas.

The initial free allocation of quotas via the “grandfathering” scheme raised concerns about the distribution of benefits of what is a common property resource to a few individuals/companies. A resource rent tax, introduced in 2012, sought to address this, with the monies raised – based on the profit margin of harvesting different species – going into the general government budget to be shared throughout the country. The level of this tax remains a controversial issue: some sectors see it as too onerous and some see it as insufficient.

The changes were driven by but not exclusively the result of the ITQ system. For example, countrywide wet fish auction markets helped increase specialisation and led to more stability in the supply of the raw material and more efficient marketing.

Sound inspections systems that control fisheries and catches are needed as well as a robust monitoring framework and scientific advice to maintain a more sustainable ecosystem and build an efficient and viable industry.

The economic element has become more sustainable but there have been social implications. The aim was to try and address these through community quotas and, although these have stopped a decline and even increased the focus on fisheries in some villages, others in less favourable areas for fishing activity have lost out.

The reform was driven mainly by economic concerns and the fact that the stock was on the brink of collapse, but other issues such as social justice were also considered important.

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

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“There are already a lot of existing tools to become more low-carbon and more energy efficient. But unfortunately the existing tools are made for the bigger ports, and are not so easy to implement for the smaller ports.” Wim Stubbe, PECS Project Coordinator, Port of Oostende


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.

The issue

CO2 emissions from maritime shipping reached 932 million tons in 2015 – 2.6 per cent of total global CO2 emissions and a 2.4 per cent increase from 2013 (Olmer et al., 2017). With the expansion of international trade, shipping emissions are expected to grow by as much as 50-250 per cent by 2050 (IMO, 2015).

While the broader challenge of decarbonising maritime transport focuses mainly on alternative fuels and propulsion technologies for ships, there is an important role for actions taken at the port level. In addition to reducing GHG emissions, these actions can also help reduce the local air pollution created by docked ships, which have harmful health impacts on coastal communities.

Reducing GHG emissions at ports includes both:

  1. Reducing emissions from ships at berth; and
  2. 2. Reducing emissions from port operations.

Reducing emissions from ships at berth usually involves offering some type of incentive for lower-emitting ships, such as reduced port fees (see Table: Large ports with environmental port fees), or requiring them to adopt some type of low-carbon practice, such as connecting to shore power while at-berth (e.g. California’s At-Berth Regulations).1

Reducing emissions from port operations is more varied, but generally involves some combination of:

  • Measuring port-level GHG emissions;
  • Installing low-carbon power at the port;
  • Installing energy-efficient lighting and building retrofits;
  • Installing energy-efficient port equipment (e.g. vehicles, linkspans, roll-on/roll-off ships, etc.).

The response

EU Ports Energy and Carbon Saving Project

Several ports around the world are now undergoing major transformations towards low- or zero-carbon emissions. For example, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands has a plan to reduce its emissions by 90 per cent by 2050, while the Port of Oslo recently announced its plan to become zero-carbon (Gerretsen, 2018; Lindeman, 2019).

The EU Ports Energy and Carbon Saving Project (PECS), however, has set its focus on reducing GHG emissions at small and medium-sized (SMS) ports, which often lack the human and financial resources of their larger counterparts. “Small and medium sized ports and marinas don’t have enough resources in staff or in money, so for them it is really a challenge to understand what kind of solutions they can implement in order to meet a low-carbon management scheme,” said Wim Stubbe of the Port of Oostende.2 2

The project is a collaborative effort between 10 partners, including ports, municipalities, companies and universities across the UK, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, which have come together to develop, test and validate various tools, methods and technologies that can help SMS ports reduce their carbon emissions. It will run from 7 December 2017 to 30 June 2021, with a total budget of €8.1 million from the EU.

The tools and methods being tested in the project include:

  • A methodology and protocol for energy auditing in SMS ports;
  • An assessment of the potential for cost-effective renewable energy at SMS ports;
  • An assessment of the potential for energy-saving options at SMS ports; and
  • A tool to help SMS port mangers identify the best mix of renewables and energy saving options.

The project is also piloting several low-carbon technologies suitable for SMS ports, most of which are currently in place, including:

  • A 100 kw medium-sized offshore wind turbine at the Port of Oostende (Belgium) providing electricity to a port terminal (installed June 2018);3
  • A liquid natural gas (LNG)-powered linkspan at Portsmouth International Port (UK), which also operates more quickly, resulting in fuel savings for ships (installed March 2018);4
  • A waste recycling unit at the Port of Dunkirk (expected to be operational by Q3 2020);5
  • An energy pontoon designed and built by a startup company BPS (Blue Power Synergy), with wind generation, solar generation and energy storage at the Port of Oostende (Belgium) (testing in Q3 2020).6
  • An IT-enabled Local Energy Market (LEM) platform to enable flexible renewable energy distribution at Omgevingsdienst IJmond (Netherlands) (in development).7

Key lessons learnt

One of the main objectives of PECS is not only to reduce carbon emissions from project partners but also to provide a model and guidance for other SMS ports. To this end, the project conducts feasibility studies on all of the tools, methods and technologies adopted, so that other SMS ports can learn from its experience. Currently, dozens of feasibility studies and guides are available on the PECS website.8









European Union Ports Energy and Carbon Savings Project

Wim Stubbe, PECS Project Coordinator, Port of Oostende: [email protected]

Sources and further reading

Gerretsen, I. (2018) ‘Zero Carbon at Sea? Rotterdam Port Eyes a Greener Future’. Reuters, 23 October. https://

IMO (2015) Third IMO Greenhouse Gas Study 2014. London: IMO.

IMO (2018) Port Emissions Toolkit Guide No.1: Assessment of Port Emissions. London: IMO.

ITF (2014) Shipping Emissions in Ports. Paris: OECD.

ITF (2018a) Reducing Shipping Greenhouse Gas Emissions Lessons From Port-Based Incentives. Paris: OECD.

ITF (2018b) Decarbonising Maritime Transport Pathways to Zero-Carbon Shipping by 2035. Paris: OECD.

Lindeman, T. (2019) ‘Oslo Wants to Build the World’s First Zero-Emissions Port’. Grist, 9 November. https://grist. org/article/oslo-wants-to-build-the-worlds-first-zeroemissions-port/

Olmer, M., Comer, B., Roy, B., Mao, X. and Rutherford, D. (2017) Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Global Shipping, 2013–2015. Washington, DC: ICCT.

UN Climate Change (2018) ‘World Nations Agree to at Least Halve Shipping Emissions by 2050’. News, 14 April.

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Best Management Practice Training for Egyptian Fish Farmers Managed by WorldFish Under the IEIDEAS and STREAMS Projects

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“What I have learned from the training is very useful: how to prepare the land, how to handle fingerlings, how to calculate the required amount of food and how to measure water quality. I have noticed better weight of fish and increased survival. These results will help to give my family a better livelihood,” says Abdel-Wahab, Egyptian fish farmer


The Egyptian aquaculture sector has grown rapidly since the 1980s into a strategically important source of nutrition for the country’s population. The fish farming system had not changed much since the initial establishment of pond-based fish farming zones except that there was increasing dependence on feeds. The 2011 Arab Spring revolution resulted in a downturn in the Egyptian economy that threatened the profitability of fish farms. Selling prices for fish were static or declining while costs continued to increase.

A study commissioned by the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) in 2011 identified opportunities to improve the situation through best management practice (BMP) training and the release of a faster-growing strain of tilapia developed by WorldFish at its Abbassa research centre over the previous decade. This resulted in WorldFish implementing a three-year SDC-funded project, Improving Employment and Income through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector, from early 2012.

The project trained over 2,400 fish farmers in BMP in a field-based programme delivered by private sector, locally based trainers. This resulted in high adoption rates and significantly improved feed efficiency that generated average increased profits of US$16,000 per farm and total value added by the project of US$27 million. Increased feed efficiency also resulted in environmental benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced discharge of nutrients to ecosystems.

The issue

Egyptian aquaculture is based on small- to medium-scale pond-based fish farms covering around 120,000 hectares in designated aquaculture zones, mainly on the southern edge of shallow lakes along the north coast of the Nile Delta. The current system was established in the early 1980s when aquaculture was prioritised as an important sector for development. A management and regulatory organisation, the General Authority for Fisheries Resources Development (GAFRD), was established that leased aquaculture land to the fish farmers in small blocks. Government-owned feed mills and hatcheries were built and, because aquaculture was profitable, the sector expanded rapidly through private sector investment. Aquaculture production rose to almost 1 million tons per year by 2010, almost all consumed locally, making it a strategically important source of nutrition and resulting in Egypt becoming the largest aquaculture producing country in Africa and the Near East. However, this success was threatened by the Arab Spring revolution in 2011, which slowed the economy, making it difficult for fish farmers to pass on rising input costs. Many fish farmers were unable to make profits using the tilapia and mullet farming systems they had developed since the 1980s, and it seemed unlikely that aquaculture production could continue to thrive.

The response

The international research organisation, WorldFish (formerly the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management and WorldFish Center) has had an office and research centre in Egypt since 1997. Meanwhile, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) indicated that it would be keen to support a project focused on increasing employment following the Arab Spring. SDC supported a 2011 scoping study that identified a need to improve management practices in the aquaculture sector as well as releasing an improved strain of tilapia to Egyptian fish farmers and providing support for women fish retailers.

The new three-year US$6 million project, Improving Employment and Income through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS), began in 2012. One of the first actions was to set up a best management practices (BMP) training programme by involving key stakeholders in its design and implementation. Representatives from across the main aquaculture zones were brought together to develop BMP guidelines, based on blending current Egyptian aquaculture practices, which varied in different aquaculture zones, and international best practice programmes such as GlobalGAP and Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification schemes. The local experts then helped develop BMP training modules: short, field-based training sessions on the key topics, each containing a practical demonstration and delivered using simple materials such as posters, flipcharts and readily available tools. This was followed by training of trainers, again involving the local experts, as well as additional private sector trainers, who delivered the training to fish farmers in their own fish farming areas. Trainers were paid a small fee for delivery of each training module to a small group of up to 20 fish farmers. Around 10 training modules might be delivered at the appropriate time of year in 3 or 4 sessions, each session covering 2–4 training modules.

Partnerships and support

The IEIDEAS project was funded by SDC and implemented by WorldFish as part of its Egypt research programme and its global aquaculture programme. It involved staff from the Egyptian Government, particularly from GAFRD and the Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (CLAR), which seconds several staff to WorldFish. On-the-ground support also came from the Fish Farming Associations and the apex organisation, the Aquatic Union of Fisheries Cooperatives, as well as some of the main private sector fish feed companies, including Skretting and Aller Aqua.

Results, accomplishments and outcomes

Over a three-year period, the IEIDEAS project provided BMP training to around 2,400 fish farmers and the fastergrowing strain of Nile tilapia (Abbassa improved strain) reached around 500 fish farms.

The quantitative results were assessed in 2015, through field-based surveys including a BMP adoption survey, to determine whether fish farmers had applied the recommended practices, and a fish farm and farmer impact assessment survey.

The project resulted in greatly increased profitability for fish farms equivalent to around US$16,000 in extra profit generated per farm and US$27 million total value added by the project. Increased profitability was mainly achieved by cost savings through more efficient feed management rather than increased production. Average Food Conversion Ratios (FCR = amount of food fed divided by fish weight gain) fell from around 1.8:1 for control farmers to below 1.5:1 for farms that received BMP training. Reduced FCRs will have resulted in reduced environmental impacts (greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient discharges).

The BMP training continued through a follow-up threeyear project, Sustainable Transformation of Egypt’s Aquaculture Market System (STREAMS), also funded by SDC, with the aim of reaching 6,000 fish farmers. Challenges Although profitability of fish farms improved, the directly attributable employment increase from farmers who received assistance from the project was only 28 fulltime equivalent (FTE), well short of the project target of 10,000 new jobs.

The pre-project study had established that there were 14 FTE jobs along the aquaculture value chain for each 100 tons per year of production, and total employment in the value chain of around 100,000. If fish farmers increased their production by around 10 per cent as a result of the project, employment should increase by around 10,000 FTE. SDC saw increased employment as a critical objective of its economic strategy in Egypt after the Arab Spring.

The IEIDEAS project included not only BMP training but also the release of a faster-growing tilapia strain and expansion of aquaculture into a region of Upper Egypt. However, the dissemination process for the improved strain of tilapia meant that it was only in the final year of the project that it reached significant numbers of farmers, and aquaculture production in Upper Egypt effectively started from zero, so these interventions did not contribute toward production increases during the project’s lifetime. Meanwhile, faced with increased input costs and a stagnating market, the fish farmers behaved logically by using the BMP training to greatly increase their efficiency, reducing their feed use but maintaining production levels and increasing their profitability rather than increasing risk by producing more fish.

Official statistics show that aquaculture production increased rapidly across the country over this period but there is a question of attribution. Official statistics are based on productivity estimates for the main fish farming areas rather than farm-by-farm data collection, whereas the project inception and completion reports were based on field surveys covering statistically representative numbers of fish farmers. It was clear that fish farmers were applying the new practices and benefiting from this immediately in terms of profitability. However, it was proposed that the target was still likely to be met in the longer term as a result of project interventions as the use of the faster-growing tilapia strain expanded and farmers invested their profits from improved practices in production intensification.

The Egyptian aquaculture industry also faced a new fish health challenge over this period, called Summer Mortality of Tilapia, leading to many farmers losing a significant proportion of their fish during the hottest part of the year. WorldFish research found a potential link between Summer Mortality and the spread of Tilapia Lake Virus; however, this has not been confirmed.

This is a good example of a project being driven by donor priorities – in this case employment. An apparently logical strategy was constructed around the link between production and employment. However, for fish farmers, the central issue was their economic survival in very challenging circumstances. This emphasises the importance of understanding the priorities of key stakeholders during project design and setting achievable targets.

Key lessons learnt

Filed-based BMP training can have very significant impacts on the financial performance of small- to medium-scale fish farmers.

The BMP training allowed farmers to significantly improve the efficiency of feed use, producing similar amounts of fish compared with before the BMP training but using less feed.

The main messages from BMP training were adopted immediately and applied by the majority of fish farmers. The training was delivered mainly by locally based fellow fish farmers rather than extension staff, which probably increased the rate of adoption.

The parallel intervention of releasing an improved strain of tilapia took much longer to implement and achieve impacts than the BMP training.

Lead contact

Dr Harrison Karisa, Country Director, WorldFish Egypt


Dickson, M., Nasr-Allah, A.M., Kenawy, D., Fathi, M., ElNaggar, G. and Ibrahim, N. (2016) ‘Improving Employment and Income through Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) Project’. Programme Report 2016-14. Penang: WorldFish. http://pubs.iclarm. net/resource_centre/2016-14.pdf Dickson, M., Nasr-Allah, A., Kenawy, D. and Kruissen, F. (2016) ‘Increasing Fish Farm Profitability through Best Management Practice Training in Egypt’. Aquaculture 465: 172–178. aquaculture.2016.09.015

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Tahiry Honko – Community-Led Mangrove Carbon Project, Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area, Madagascar (on-going)

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“We inherited these mangroves from our ancestors, providing materials we need to survive. I want to ensure we can pass these forests on to our children.” Joel François, member of the Velondriake management association


The Tahiry Honko mangrove carbon project is helping build community resilience and provides a model to help tackle climate breakdown by restoring and protecting mangrove forests.

Working in partnership with Blue Ventures, 10 villages within the Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in southwest Madagascar are employing a participatory monitoring and management approach as a solution to address degradation and deforestation of mangroves. By verifying the success of this management and monitoring under the Plan Vivo standard, this approach generates carbon credits whose sale can in turn provide sustainable income to both the project villages and the Velondriake management association.

The project promotes locally led conservation, reforestation and sustainable use of over 1,200 hectares of mangroves, alongside initiatives for building improved and alternative livelihoods. It prevents the emission of almost 1,400 tonnes of CO2/year and the funds from carbon credit sales will support management of the LMMA – including fisheries management – and also development of infrastructure and community services.

The issue

Mangroves underpin coastal fisheries, provide vital sources of fuel wood and timber, protect coastal people from extreme weather and act as a key natural climate solution by sequestering globally significant amounts of CO2. Despite their huge value, mangroves are being deforested at an alarming rate. Unabated, mangrove destruction will deprive tens of millions of people of their livelihoods and undermine their well-being. It will exacerbate the global climate emergency we now face, while taking away what vital natural protection coastal people have against it.

Blue Ventures has worked with coastal communities in Madagascar for 15 years, to explore new ways to derive benefits from protecting mangroves, in particular, by capturing the value of mangrove carbon sequestration, as well as indirect fish production.

The response

By protecting forests within the bay from deforestation and restoring areas of degraded mangroves, local communities are able to safeguard the vast amount of carbon stored in the mangrove vegetation and sediments – so called ‘blue carbon’ – that is released as CO2 when mangrove forests are destroyed.

As of October 2019, these avoided emissions have a value on the voluntary carbon market – a value that has now been realised by formal validation of the communities’ efforts by the Plan Vivo standard, enabling the project to start to sell verified blue carbon credits. This will provide regular income to support community conservation efforts within the Velondriake area over the next 20 years.

Introductory video:

Partnerships and support

The Tahiry Honko mangrove carbon project is implemented by the Velondriake management association with technical support from Blue Ventures and in close partnership with the Government of Madagascar. The CO2 emission reductions are verified by the Plan Vivo Foundation.

The development of this project is funded by the Darwin Initiative through UK government funding, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through its Blue Forests Project, the MacArthur Foundation and by UK Aid.

Results, accomplishments and outcomes

The project promotes locally led conservation, reforestation and sustainable use of over 1,200 hectares of mangroves, alongside initiatives that build alternative livelihoods – including sea cucumber and seaweed farming and mangrove beekeeping – and support the delivery of health and education services in the region.

By avoiding emissions of over 1,300 tonnes of CO2 per year, Tahiry Honko will provide a regular income through carbon credit sales to support local management of the marine protected area over the next 20 years. Funds will also help finance community development, including the construction of vital infrastructure and supporting health care and education.

One of the most critical parts of the project development process has been the creation of the benefit-sharing arrangement, which is really the key to making these projects successful in the long term. The partner villages decided between them that 50 per cent of the funds should go to the villages within the mangroves, and they have come up with a list of priority social investment projects that will improve their well-being – things like solar panels, safe drinking water projects, improved buildings for schools. Then, 23 per cent of the funds go to the management association to cover the running costs of the locally managed marine area. The remaining 27 per cent goes to the national government, as the other main partner in the project.


Mangroves inhabit a unique environment at the transition of land and sea. While this presents many opportunities, from a policy perspective it can also lead to conflicting legislation, because mangroves are at once both terrestrial and marine. To overcome these challenges, it is necessary for projects to work closely with both the relevant authorities – forestry and fisheries.

Also from a policy perspective, in many countries carbonspecific legislation is still in its infancy, and is not always fully inclusive of mangroves. While Madagascar now has a relatively mature and clear carbon policy framework, the project did encounter challenges as it was developed simultaneously with this framework. Close collaboration with and support from the national REDD+ body was vital to project success.

Key lessons learnt

The benefit-sharing scenario developed by the partner villages is critical to long-term project success. It takes time to develop clear, transparent benefitsharing scenarios in a truly participative manner. To ensure that interest in the project is maintained, shorter-term incentives to conservation need to be developed concurrently.

The monitoring and evaluation whose results dictate the number of carbon credits generated – and thus project income – also needs to be completed in a participatory and transparent way. To support this, the project has developed robust, simplified methods for carbon and forest monitoring that can easily be implemented by the community members themselves but that still fulfil the requirements of the Plan Vivo standard. Clear and simple data-sharing methods have also been developed so the Velondriake association can share the results with the often-illiterate project participants.

Lead contact

Lalao Aigrette, Blue Ventures

References and sources

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Development of an Aquaculture Industry in Seychelles (on-going)

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Fishing plays an important role in the Seychelles economy, with a fishing industry worth around US$400 million and per capita fish consumption levels more than twice the global average. Despite this, aquaculture has been slow to develop. However, there is a renewed focus on building a sustainable mariculture sector through the Blue Economy Strategic Framework and Roadmap, launched in 2018.

The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) is coordinating efforts to develop marine finfish and marine invertebrate farms in line with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture. Background work has been ongoing for the past 10 years, including the publication of a Mariculture Master Plan and developing a regulatory framework, zoning and feasibility studies followed by an Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in 2016.

The implementation plan focuses on production of high-value finfish and invertebrates including snappers, groupers, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Zoning has identified areas suitable for aquaculture production including artisanal systems, commercial systems (covered by the ESIA) and commercial zones requiring separate impact assessments. A legal framework has been established and mandatory aquaculture standards developed while market research has been carried out.

Key infrastructure has been developed, including a broodstock acclimation and quarantine facility in Providence, Mahe. This is important as Seychelles will focus on indigenous species to reduce the risk of disease transfers and escapes of exotic species. A sea urchin research facility has also been established in Providence, and a pilot-scale cage aquaculture site. A research and development centre is planned for La Digue Island and an integrated aquaculture hub at Grand Anse, Mahe.

Aquaculture regulations are currently being drafted into legal texts for gazetting, which will allow the official launch of the sector later in 2020. SFA has been involved in a public education and awareness campaign, and local and international investors have shown an interest.

The Blue Economy initiative has provided an opportunity to prioritise sustainable aquaculture as a means to diversify ocean-based activities. In the future, aquaculture has the potential to become a new pillar of the economy.

The issue

Fish and fish-related activities play an important role in the economy of Seychelles, making up 7.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, worth US$400 million and employing around 5,000 people. Per capita consumption of fish is the highest in Africa at 57.4 kg/ person/year (FAO, 2014). In order to focus on sustainable investment in an ocean-based economy, Seychelles launched a Blue Economy Strategic Framework and Roadmap after approval by the Government on 31 January 2018. A Blue Economy Department has been established within the portfolio of the Office of the Vice President to oversee implementation of the Framework and Roadmap.

The goals in developing the national Blue Economy Roadmap include economic diversification and resilience to reduce economic vulnerability and reliance on a small number of sectors and to increase the share of GDP derived from marine sectors; shared prosperity through creation of high-value jobs and local investment opportunities; improved food security and well-being; increased integrity of habitats and ecosystem services; sustainable use; and climate resilience.

The two main pillars of the economy are tourism and the capture fisheries industry. Tourism is volatile and largely dependent on the global economy whereas capture fisheries are overexploited and some species are declining. The 2008 global economic crisis hit Seychelles hard economically, and the aftermath led the Government to decide that the country needed to diversify its economy.

One of the key opportunities was the exploration and feasibility of new and emerging maritime sectors, including marine-based aquaculture. Previously, Seychelles had a commercial prawn farm, which was state-owned, with production peaking at over 1,000 tons in 2003/04. The farm grew black tiger prawns (Penaeus monodon), with the seedlings and broodstock coming from hatcheries in Madagascar and Mozambique. The prawn farm had to shut down in December 2008, for economic and operational reasons. The only remaining aquaculture facility is one on the second largest island of the Seychelles Archipelago: Praslin. The Black Pearl Farm is privately owned and has been in operation since the 1980s, when it started with both black pearl (Pinctada margaritifera) and giant clam (Tridacna maxima) production. Giant clam production had to cease in the early 2000s because of high mortality during transportation to markets in Europe and the USA. Aquaculture in general had not been a significant economic activity in Seychelles at that point, and skills, key infrastructure, institutional and legal frameworks were lacking.

The response

The Seychelles aquaculture sector is being developed according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2010 Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture – a strategy for the integration of the activity within the wider ecosystem such that it promotes sustainable development, equity and resilience of interlinked social-ecological systems.

The process started with a 2007 Rapid Assessment Study to gauge opinion on whether it was desirable to develop marine aquaculture, followed by a 2009 Comprehensive Scoping Study to assess opportunities and constraints and the publication of a Mariculture Master Plan (MMP) in 2011. Work continued on developing the regulatory framework, the identification of Aquaculture Development Zones (ADZs), feasibility studies and environmental baseline studies over the period until 2016.

In 2016 an independent consultancy firm, Golder International, carried out an Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). The consultants’ task was to determine the potential positive and negative impacts of the proposed MMP on both the biophysical and socio-cultural environments as a consequence of the creation of such an industry. The ESIA evaluated impacts and recommended mitigation measures to either avoid or reduce negative impacts and enhance positive impacts of the MMP. The conclusion and opinion of the consultants was that:

“Subject to compliance with the recommended mitigation measures, which are detailed in the ESMP [Environmental and Social Management Plan], the proposed new aquaculture sector has significant positive aspects and acceptably low negative biophysical and socio-cultural impacts which can be managed by suitable monitoring and management interventions. It is the opinion of the EAP that it should be approved on the basis that overall the positive impacts outweigh the negative impacts.”

With environmental approval, the Aquaculture Department was ready to transition from a planning phase to an implementation phase.

Seychelles’ emerging aquaculture industry seeks to incorporate a diversity of candidate species and production technologies with the aim of providing a premium-quality basket of seafood products to both local and export markets. There is an opportunity to develop a high-quality mariculture industry based on production of marine finfish and marine invertebrates. Candidate species for production have been identified and research is continuing into diversification of the range of key species.

There is a five-year implementation plan, as follows:

  • Focus on high-value species, e.g. snappers, groupers and other finfish;
  • Total coastal area identified for production: 52 km2 ;
  • Estimated average potential production for 5.2 km2 = up to 50,000 MT (capacity);
  • Job creation = approximately 2,000;
  • New export markets (Japan and Southeast Asia);
  • Potential for investment – fish feed production;
  • Potential for collaboration in e.g. research and development (R&D). Partnerships and support The various partners involved in the development of aquaculture in Seychelles are:
  • The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MFAg) is the lead ministry in developing aquaculture and provides policy guidelines to this sector through the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).
  • The Blue Economy Department coordinates development in the Blue Economy sphere and ensures cohesiveness on subjects such as food security and economic development.
  • The Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SEYCCAT) is a local trust fund set up as part of the debt swap agreement for Seychelles, to assist small local entrepreneurs to develop and start activities in the Blue Economy of Seychelles, which includes aquaculture.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC) assists SFA in assessing and approving aquaculture projects and ensuring adherence to Seychelles’ environmental laws.
  • The Ministry of Finance, Trade and Economic Planning (MFTEP) assists in the national development of aquaculture with a particular focus on finance and trade policies.
  • The National Institution for Science, Technology and Innovation (NISTI) is charged with assisting with any potential innovation coming out of aquaculture development in Seychelles.
  • The Ministry of Employment helps the aquaculture sector develop while keeping in line and up to date with the various employment policies to ensure the socio-economic impact of the sector is kept on a positive side.
  • The Guy Morel Institute (TGMI) is a leading educational institute partnering with SFA to train skilled labour for the sector with a particular focus also on entrepreneurship.
  • The Seychelles Investment Board (SIB) is the point of contact for any businesses wishing to invest within or from outside Seychelles and is assisting SFA to market aquaculture.
  • The Department of Investment assists SFA with investment-driven policies to ensure the sustainability of the sector in years to come as the global investment climate changes.
  • Entrepreneurship Development and Business Innovation is a unit within TGMI and the University of Seychelles is the dedicated government-owned tertiary education institute, both partnering with SFA to conduct scientific research.

Development and implementation of the MMP was assisted by an experienced team of consultants (Advance Africa), including an Emeritus professor of ichthyology and an agricultural/resource economist, who various scientific and socio-economic surveys and modelling of the sector’s impact on Seychelles.

Results, accomplishments and outcomes

Aquaculture development and activities in Seychelles are now governed by the 2014 Fisheries Act, the Regulations for Aquaculture in the Seychelles (pending Official Gazetting) and the Seychelles Aquaculture Standards. The Standards are designed to provide detail to the Aquaculture Regulations and are mandatory. They cover the following issues:

  • Aquaculture in Sustainable Use Areas;
  • Responsible Finfish Cage Culture;
  • Responsible Effluent and Waste Management;
  • Aquaculture Biosecurity and Fish Health Management in Land- and Sea-based Facilities;
  • Responsible Prawn Farming in Ponds; • Responsible Pearl Oyster Farming;
  • Responsible Sea Cucumber Farming, Ranching and Stock Enhancement.
  • ADZs have been established to fit with the recommendations of the 2016 ESIA. The ESIA covered some land-based sites and specific ADZs, but did not include inshore and offshore zones.
  • Market research was carried out in 2015–2019, including study visits to Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Norway, with the aim of ground-truthing market assumptions and identifying potential development partners.

A multi-species broodstock acclimation and quarantine facility (BAQF) has been established in Providence, Mahe, to provide scientific and institutional support to aquaculture operators by developing hatchery techniques and producing fingerlings to supply fish farms. Seychelles is taking an approach of using only indigenous species in this new sector, so as to negate the risk of importing diseases and other biosecurity issues. With this approach, and with limited land and human resources, among others, the Government will house and manage the main finfish hatchery on the island. This will benefit start-up businesses, as they can purchase good quality fingerlings at a subsidised rate.

Also in Providence, a sea urchin research facility (SURF) has been set up to develop production protocols for collector sea urchins (Tripneustes gratilla) and investigate markets and distribution networks for Uni, a product derived from the gonads (roe) that is in high demand in Japan. The research facility is located at the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA), a post-secondary school. SFA has been able to sign a memorandum of understanding with the school so that the students can occasionally participate in the research, thus building their capacity for the world of work.

A sea cage site has been identified off the coast of Providence and close to the BAQF to hold fingerlings and carry out pilot-scale grow-out of marine finfish. Two “Polarcirkel” sea cages have been installed with the help of a Norwegian company. This will be used to prove the business case for marine finfish farming in Seychelles as well as studying environmental impacts of cage farming on the seabed.

Plans are at an advanced stage for an R&D centre on La Digue Island. This will be a multi-species centre for fisheries and aquaculture focused on new species, aquaculture production techniques and nutrition research. It will also include coral reef conservation, climate change, restocking research and a public aquarium.

An integrated aquaculture hub will be developed at Grand Anse, Mahe, with the aim of carrying out research on integrated systems using a number of different fish and invertebrate species and including marine ornamental fish hatchery and production.

At present, this is a Government-led strategy. As Seychelles is a small island developing state, most people do not have the necessary resources to start aquaculture on their own. The Government thus needs to assist by providing services such as centralised infrastructure, fingerlings, expertise, etc.

This approach is similar to that in the fisheries sector, whereby the Government spearheads the initiative and supports development, providing a mechanism to start the ball rolling. Once the sector is fully fledged, then some components, such as the government hatcheries (BAQF Phase 2), will be considered for private–public partnership (PPP) or privately run. On the other hand, the broodstock component (BAQF Phase1) will remain Government-owned as it will house the country’s genetic bank of important flagship species, to ensure small operators are not compromised in their access to inputs as the sector grows.


MFAg has reviewed the Aquaculture Sector Plan and published a Fisheries Sector Plan in late 2019 that synergises with this. Additionally, now the Fisheries Policy and Strategy 2019 now aligns well with the Aquaculture Policy 2018 Aquaculture Regulations are currently being drafted into legal texts before being published in the Official Gazette to allow for the launch of the industry.

Human resources development is on-going through various local and international training. SFA has funded and facilitated the training of both government and private sector staff. Training in subjects such as fish health management has benefited veterinarians, giving them the competence to deal with fish-related diseases or health issues. Sea urchin production training has enabled SFA staff to be able to run the sea urchin experiments at SURF. SFA has embarked on an education and awareness campaign since 2017, whereby it gives talks to various classes at the different schools on the main three islands and also the general public. Lots of educational materials such as posters and videos have been developed for this campaign. The different ministries in Seychelles organize several fairs throughout the year, in which SFA participates to educate the wider population on aquaculture and the opportunities it brings, but also to openly discuss the negative sides of aquaculture. The SFA office also has an open door policy whereby people can drop by for a discussion at any point during normal working hours.

There has been investment interest by several local and foreign investors but for the time being no investment has taken place, since the Aquaculture Regulations have not yet been promulgated.

Seychelles now has a BAQF but no hatchery, thus, if the finfish starts spawning, there will no hatchery for the larval stage. The lack of a hatchery will affect the ability to start producing larvae and fingerlings for the industry and slow the anticipated pace. This will also affect the plan for implementation and usage of the two sea cages.

Previous mariculture failures, such as the prawn farm, have taught the country a great deal in terms of simple factors such as proper site selection, surveys, market analysis and alignment with global development. Preparation of the legislative framework has been an important step in avoiding repeating the same mistakes at a time when there was a lack of proper regulations and standards in place to ensure operators were implementing best management practices and conforming with regulations. However, existing farms, such as the pearl oyster farm, have had to wait until the legislative framework is complete before they can carry out any new developments, as they will need to reregister and adhere to new standards.

This has been a long process, taking around a decade so far. Many baseline studies have had to be conducted, regulations and standards have had to be drafted and there was scarce funding in the implementation phase (from 2015) when expensive infrastructure-based activities were implemented. Also, legislation was outdated and sometimes conflicting with what was needed for the aquaculture sector. Identification of suitable sites was also difficult. On the other hand, the delays also helped in some ways. For example, some assumptions at the beginning over target candidate species changed over time as production increased in other countries, leading to falling market prices, making these species no longer attractive for Seychelles.

New feed developments have also been important, with lower feed conversion ratios and replacement of fishbased raw materials by plant-based alternatives. This has allowed the focus to change and enabled the adoption of new and more modern methods targeting economically more appealing and high-value species. Also, it has provided more confidence in the way aquaculture operates while addressing environmental concerns that were more of an issue 10 years ago.

The biggest advantage has been that no new aquaculture licenses have been issued over this period, meaning that, when the sector is opened up, all new and existing applicants will have to abide by the new regulations. This is in contrast with the Seychelles fisheries sector, which is struggling to get fishers to register their activities as proper businesses, use electronic reporting and adopt best management practices from fisheries management plans (only one has been recently approved over thirty years).

In summary, the delay has not been negative. On the contrary, lessons have been learnt and strategies are in place to ensure optimal results will be achieved when the Aquaculture Regulations are launched.

Key lessons learnt

Seychelles depends heavily on the ocean for food security and economic development so there has been strong support to developing sustainable aquaculture as a means to diversify the economy.

The Blue Economy initiative has placed emphasis on economic diversification, providing an opportunity to prioritise aquaculture development alongside other ocean-based initiatives.

The research commissioned by the initiative has shown that aquaculture has the potential to become a new pillar of the economy. However, this is a long-term objective.

Lead contact

Aubrey Lesperance, Principal Aquaculture Officer, Seychelles Fishing Authority Email: [email protected]


Alphonse-Uzice, V. (2020) ‘Seychelles Aquaculture’. Presentation at Commonwealth Secretariat Sustainable Aquaculture Action Group, Cyprus, February. FAO (2010) ‘Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture’. Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries 5, Suppl. 4. Rome: FAO. FAO (2014) ‘Seychelles Country Review’. Rome: FAO.

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Blue economy can only thrive with joined-up action, say experts

Countrywide policies that cut across all sectors are critical for the success of ocean-based economies in the Commonwealth.

A webinar by the Commonwealth Secretariat stressed the need for such “integrated policy frameworks”, which would help to harness wealth opportunities from the ocean in a sustainable way.

The benefits are significant – by 2030, the global ocean-based economy is expected to be worth an estimated US$3 trillion, providing 40 million jobs worldwide.

Countries with vast maritime areas – such as small island development states (or ‘big ocean’ states) stand to gain the most, with impacts on food security, jobs and even health.

Expert panellists shared experiences from Kenya, Seychelles and South Africa and explored the role of the Commonwealth Blue Charter in ‘blue growth’ – or expanding the blue economy. The Blue Charter is an agreement by 54 countries to work together to tackle ocean challenges.

Panellists during the sustainable blue economy webinar

Opening the event, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary for Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy, Micheni Japhin Ntibafor, said: “A prerequisite for developing the blue economy is the establishment of a coherent and integrated blue economy policy framework.

“Sustainable blue economy requires bringing together various sub-sectors to work in an integrated way in order to achieve effectiveness and efficiency in delivery of service to the people, and the Commonwealth at large. We need to embrace science to inform policy-making processes.”

Senior Policy Officer at UK-based Seascape Consultants, Rachel Boschen-Rose, added: “The importance of having that overarching integrated policy framework is so that you can have those cross-sectoral discussions, and therefore be more able to balance needs and trade-offs, manage conflicts, as well as bring in less obvious aspects such as cultural heritage and traditional practices.”

Case studies

One of the key issues highlighted was enabling economic growth, while also protecting the environment and the well-being of communities.

The CEO of the Seychelles Climate Change Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), Angelique Pouponneau, explained how Seychelles has been able to use innovative financing to tackle multiple challenges as well as build its blue economy.

An innovative ‘debt-for-nature’ swap was brokered with Seychelles’ creditors, reducing the country’s external debt in exchange for investments in ocean conservation and climate change adaptation projects.

One of the conditions of the deal was the allocation of 30% of Seychelles ocean territory as Marine Protected Areas, in order to conserve ocean resources, replenish fish stocks and promote sustainable tourism. This milestone was reached in March 2020.

Ms Pouponneau said: “This debt-for-nature swap was a debt restructure where the Government of Seychelles was able to address three of its main challenges: high external debt, being vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and finding a way to really harness this 1.35 million square kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zone for the blue economy.”

These innovative solutions were part of the country’s Blue Economy Strategic Framework and Roadmap, developed with support from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

In South Africa, the blue economy is also part of the national development plan. Dubbed ‘Operation Phakisa’, the blue growth strategy focuses on large investments in major sectors, such as energy, ports, tourism, aquaculture, transport and ocean governance, including tackling illegal fishing.

Bernadette Snow from the Nelson Mandela University pointed out that while Operation Phakisa’s target of creating 22,000 jobs was not reached due to the economic downturn (around 7,000 jobs were created in the various sectors over five years), there has been progress in aquaculture, governance and protection as well as skills development.

She said: “What it has provided is an opportunity and platform for conversation. It has created a lot of research opportunities and brought to the fore policy formulation.”

However, the fixation on economic gains at the cost of sustainability, and a top-down approach that could lead to growing inequality in communities, are ongoing challenges.

Action Group on Sustainable Blue Economy

Under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, 10 countries have so far joined the action group on sustainable blue economy, led by Kenya.

The aim is to develop a joint approach on the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, better livelihoods and ocean health.

Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Nicholas Hardman-Mountford said: “We have one shared ocean and a Blue Charter of shared values… By cooperating on these shared challenges, we can achieve a sustainable future for our ocean and the communities that rely on these blue resources. That includes all of us.”

The webinar event was the fifth in an ongoing series that focuses on sharing experiences and finding scalable solutions for global ocean issues.

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

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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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. In one example, the Republic of Fiji partnered with the World Bank and the EU, allowing them to access outside technical and communications expertise, as well as financial resources. In another, the State of South Australia partnered with regional governments to create a series of local CVAs, which were co-funded by all three (national, state, regional) levels of government.

The issue

Severe weather events are already a reality for many communities around the world. For example, in the island nation of Fiji, tropical cyclone Winston in 2016 caused economic damages equivalent to 20 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (F$2 billion) (Republic of Fiji, 2017). With these events expected to become more frequent in the future as a result of climate change, communities are faced with the question of how to prepare themselves, their infrastructure and their economies for future climate impacts. For many governments, a first step towards answering this question is completing a CVA. In general, a CVA typically aims to identify:

1. The climate-related risks faced by a specific geographic area and its citizens;
2. The effects of those risks on key vulnerable sectors of the economy; and
3. Potential strategies for mitigating those risks.

While guidance exists 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 exercise. Below are two partnership models, which may provide useful ideas and examples for Action Group members.

The response


As a small, low-lying, island nation in the South Pacific, Fiji is especially vulnerable to severe weather events. Tropical cyclones and floods are the most common, with almost 70 per cent of Fijians having experienced a cyclone and about 25 per cent having experienced severe flooding (Republic of Fiji, 2017).With these events expected to become more frequent as a result of climate change, protecting citizens from extreme weather is a primary goal for the national government. At the same time, Fiji has also set ambitious goals for future economic growth, aiming to double real gross domestic product per capita by 2036, while also providing universal access to basic human services like electricity, clean water and education.

With the dual objectives of increasing climate resilience and economic prosperity, Fiji decided to partner with the World Bank, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the EU to complete a CVA. The partnership with the World Bank made it possible for Fijian officials from the Ministry of Economy and other parts of the national government to work with over 40 technical experts at the World Bank to create an approach to vulnerability assessment that incorporated the nation’s development goals. The partnership with the EU also made it possible for Fiji to receive financial support for the exercise through the Africa Caribbean Pacific-EU Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Programme (GFDRR, 2018).

Fiji’s CVA was launched in November 2017 alongside a storytelling project called Our Home, Our People, “designed to help decision-makers and members of the public understand what climate change means for Fiji” (GFDRR, 2018).Through the partnership with the World Bank, the assessment ended up incorporating several innovative components, which other governments could adopt:

  • An analytical model that considers the impacts of extreme weather on economic growth and poverty;
  • An analysis of Fiji’s road network (using data from the Fiji Road Authority) that identifies transport assets that are the most vulnerable to extreme weather; and
  • A resilience investment plan that includes a comprehensive list of potential actions and their estimated costs.

“The climate vulnerability assessment will inform Fiji’s development planning and investment decisions for years to come, and provides a specific blueprint that quantifies the resources necessary to climate-proof Fiji, giving us a full account of the threat that climate change poses to our national development,” said Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Climate Change in Fiji.

South Australia

In 2008, having recently experienced a series of record-breaking heat waves, officials in the State of South Australia’s Climate Change Unit also decided to complete a CVA. From the outset, they chose to partner directly with local communities, where the impacts are felt and where many of the resilience measures would ultimately be taken. To accomplish this, they created 12 “regional committees” comprising key local government, industry and community leaders. The committees were given shared responsibility over key elements of the planning process, including coordinating integrated vulnerability assessments, drafting adaptation plans and socializing the results with the broader community. “We wanted to work side by side with local communities to understand their perspective, and to embed it into the planning process,” said Michelle English, Manager of South Australia’s Climate Change Unit.

In agreements underpinning the processes, the committees also agreed to share costs with the state – an arrangement that helped both lower state government costs and increase the sense of ownership on the part of committee members. “Co-investment has been a powerful tool for us,” English added. “Rather than ending up with a long wish list of potential projects, local stakeholders are engaged in prioritising the most feasible actions.”

All 12 regional committees have completed CVAs, and have gone on to take the next step of developing regional climate adaptation plans based on these. “All regions are looking to progress and implement their priority actions from their adaptation plans, and to reduce regional vulnerability.”

“We now have groups of influential, local decisionmakers throughout the state with a vested interest in seeing this process succeed, and a growing culture of sharing that will enable it to,” said Stephanie Ziersch, Climate Change and Programme Adviser, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Government of South Australia.

Key lessons learnt

There are resources available to support the technical exercise of completing a CVA. But before beginning the exercise, government should consider who they want to involve in the process, as well as what their specific objectives are. The examples of Fiji and South Australia show that different partnership models can lead to successful outcomes, and that choosing the right model depends on the capabilities and objectives of the government in question. When deciding on a partnership model, governments should consider:

  • Objectives: What does the government want to achieve with the CVA (i.e. policy guidance, communications, local partnerships, enhance access to climate finance, etc.)?
  • Next steps: How will the completed CVA be used? (Key stakeholders to be included from the beginning)
  • Resources: Does the government have the resources, both human and financial, needed to complete the CVA, or does it need external support?

Sources and further reading

GFDRR (2018) ‘Assessing Fiji’s climate vulnerability: A blueprint for building resilience’. Results in Resilience Series.

Government of South Australia (nd) ‘A Region-Based Approach to Adaptation’.

The Climate Group (2015) ‘How South Australia Is Engaging Local Communities on Adaptation’. Policy Innovation Briefing.

Republic of Fiji (2017) ‘Climate Vulnerability Assessment: Making Fiji Climate Resilient’. Prepared with the support of the World Bank and GFDRR.

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PAST EVENT: The Blue View – Opportunities and Challenges for the Blue Economy

Thursday 27 August, 1400 – 1500 BST (GMT+1)

Developing a sustainable Blue Economy has considerable potential to improve quality of life and reduce environmental degradation.

However, achieving this also presents multiple challenges, such as establishing suitable policy frameworks and spatial planning, fostering investment, managing environmental impacts, protecting cultural heritage, and encouraging cross-border collaboration and benefit sharing.

The purpose of the webinar was to:

  • Provide an overview of the Blue Economy concept, including key opportunities and challenges for Commonwealth countries
  • Present successes and lessons learned from two Blue Charter case studies:
    • Seychelles innovative financing initiatives including the debt-for-conservation swap, SeyCCAT and Blue Bonds plan
    • The FishFORCE approach towards addressing fisheries crime and its link with Operation Phakisa in South Africa


Watch the highlights video

Watch the full webinar

The webinar is part of a wider series of virtual events that promote collaboration through the sharing of experiences, best practices and solutions on ocean issues. They also offer the opportunity to reflect on how to move forward with ocean management in a post-COVID-19 world.