United Nations Development Programme

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UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results.

UNDP is working to strengthen new frameworks for development, disaster risk reduction and climate change. We support countries' efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Global Goals, which will guide global development priorities through 2030.

Through its Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP is working with other UN agencies, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), international financial institutions (IFIs), regional fisheries organizations and others to improve ocean management and to sustain livelihoods at the local, national, regional and global scales through effective ocean governance. UNDP’s Ocean Governance Programme is strongly aligned with SDG14 on Oceans – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The active portfolio and pipeline of UNDP projects and programmes support the majority of SDG14 targets. UNDP also ensures appropriate safeguards are in place to avoid, manage and mitigate potential harm to people and the environment, including ocean resources, through application of UNDP’s Social and Environmental Standards and related Accountability Mechanism across all its programming. UNDP provides the following services to countries:

We support the creation of an enabling policy environment for ocean restoration and protection through the development of ocean and coastal management strategic planning tools and methodologies. UNDP has pioneered the development and application of a suite of tools and methodologies that have proven highly effective at creating an enabling policy environment for ocean restoration and protection, in several cases catalyzing substantial public and private financial flows. In some cases, these instruments have helped shift sizable ocean industries, such as shipping and tuna fisheries, to a more environmentally sustainable path.

We support the codification and application of the GEF's Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis/Strategic Action Programme planning approach to address aquatic ecosystem degradation. Over 85 percent of the world’s fish catch occurs in the 64 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) that ring the world’s continents. Most of these LMEs are shared by two or more countries, necessitating multi-country cooperation in their sustainable management. In the mid-1990s, the GEF adopted LMEs as the principle biogeographic planning unit for transboundary marine systems. UNDP responded via codification and application of the GEF’s Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis/Strategic Action Programme (TDA/SAP) planning approach to over a dozen of the world’s LMEs. TDA/SAP is a multi-country, long-term integrated planning approach that helps governments prioritize issues, identify barriers and agree upon and implement regional and national governance reforms and investments aimed at addressing the root causes of aquatic ecosystem degradation.

We promote bottom-up approaches to maintaining aquatic ecosystem services at smaller planning scales (municipalities, provinces, local watersheds) – Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), complementing the TDA/SAP. Integrated water resources management promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare equitably without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. IWRM – often characterized by the three E’s: economy, equity and environment – promotes water resources management at the level of watersheds, whether at local, national or transboundary scales. The objective of Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of coastal governance towards the sustainable use of coastal resources and of the services generated by ecosystems in coastal areas. It aims to do this by protecting the functional integrity of these natural resource systems while allowing economic development to proceed. Increasingly, ‘upstream’ IWRM is being linked to coastal ICM via ‘source-to-sea’ approaches that aim to manage the entire linked watershed with the coastal area into which it drains. Given the very clear linkages between upstream watershed management and the welfare of downstream coastal ecosystems, the world’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a special case for IWRM and ICM that invites an integration of the two planning methodologies under a ‘source-to-sea’ approach.

We help build upon and advance existing or anticipated regional or global multilateral agreements to address threats to large-scale ocean sustainability. Some environmental and natural resource management issues threaten ocean sustainability at large regional and even global scales; these include over exploitation of highly migratory fish stocks, persistent organic pollutants, ocean acidification, marine plastics pollution and marine invasive species. To take comprehensive regional or global approaches to challenges at this scale, UNDP’s approach builds upon and advances an existing or anticipated regional or global multilateral agreement. UNDP-GEF interventions have been designed to provide capacity-building, advisory, awareness-raising and advocacy support that promoted the negotiation, adoption and actual or anticipated coming into force of regional or global conventions. The enhanced public and private sector capacities for and commitment to compliance with the new legal regimes created the necessary enabling conditions that also helped catalyze public and private financial flows and to measurably transform several major ocean industries on a path towards sustainability.

We support countries in the creation of new Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and the strengthening of existing MPAs through the UNDP Ecosystems and Biodiversity Programme. This support is provided by building capacity at the individual, institutional and systemic levels for biodiversity management and sustainable development in coastal and marine zones.

We promote knowledge- and experience-sharing to improve the management of transboundary water bodies, including ocean ecosystems. Recognizing the commonality of many of the challenges facing the world’s transboundary waters systems, the GEF and its agencies in 1998 established the GEF’s first focal area-wide portfolio learning initiative, IW:LEARN, the International Waters Learning Exchange and Resources Network (www.iwlearn.org ), which remains operational up to the present time with UNDP leading overall programme coordination. Over this period, IW:LEARN has piloted and refined a series of portfolio learning tools, including technical support services, biennial GEF International Waters Conferences, project learning exchanges, targeted training and the facilitation of regional dialogues. By promoting knowledge- and experience-sharing across the entire GEF International Waters portfolio over the last 15 years, IW:LEARN has made an important contribution to overall global efforts to improve the management of transboundary systems.

We foster partnerships that represent a vital component of UNDP’s long-term strategic approach to improving ocean and coastal management. By leveraging technical, financial, institutional and other resources through partnerships, UNDP’s Ocean Governance portfolio has grown and delivered effective responses to most of the major challenges to oceans. Examples of partnerships include: with the International Maritime Organization on reducing risk from aquatic invasive species and reducing the carbon footprint of shipping; with UNESCO on transboundary groundwater management; with Pacific CROP agencies (SPC, FFA) on advancing IWRM/ICM and promoting sustainable tuna fishing; with Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) programme in promoting sustainable ocean and coastal development in the region, including through the demonstration and up-scaling of ICM sites throughout the region; and with US-NOAA on a range of LME assessment and management programmes in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

We launched the Ocean Action Hub in December 2016. The Hub is an open, interactive website providing information and promoting action globally to implement and achieve SDG14. The Hub was initiated to facilitate multistakeholder engagement as part of the Ocean Conference process. The Hub hosted online discussions on ocean issues as an input into the development of the Ocean Conference "Call for Action", and facilitated co-development of solutions and voluntary commitments by multistakeholders, as well as providing a space for connecting and sharing ideas. Following the close of the Conference the Hub continues to be maintained as a central source for information on implementation of SDG14.

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