The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday launched the action plan for “healthy oceans and sustainable blue economies” for the Asia and Pacific region.
The action plan was laid out at the 52nd Annual Meeting of ADB’s Board of Governors in Nadi, Fiji.The action plan will expand financing and technical assistance for ocean health and marine economy projects to $5 billion from 2019 to 2024, including cofinancing from partners.
“The prosperity of our region depends on healthy oceans and sustainable development,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao adding, “We must work towards a more resilient future, where humanity and oceans thrive together.”
The action plan will support the efforts of ADB’s developing member countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 14 Life Below Water, according to ADB.
It will focus on four areas: Creating inclusive livelihoods and business opportunities in sustainable tourism and fisheries; protecting and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems and key rivers; reducing land-based sources of marine pollution, including plastics, wastewater, and agricultural runoff; and improving sustainability in port and coastal infrastructure development.
Asia and the Pacific is at the epicenter of a major crisis in marine plastic pollution, threatening the productivity of the region’s marine economies, which are crucial to poverty reduction, says ADB.
For example, it said, among the 10 rivers transporting 88 percent to 95 percent of plastics into the sea worldwide, eight are in the region.Ocean ecosystems have been pushed to the brink of collapse by the threats of climate change, pollution, and illegal and unregulated fishing, among others.
Unless immediate action is taken, about 90 percent of Asia and the Pacific’s coral reefs will be dead by 2050, and all commercially exploitable fish stocks will disappear by then.
This will significantly threaten food security, the global economy, and livelihoods, especially among millions of poor and vulnerable communities in the region, ADB says.
As a part of the action plan, ADB will launch the Oceans Financing Initiative to create opportunities for the private sector to invest in bankable projects that will help improve ocean health.
The initiative will provide technical assistance grants and funding from ADB and other donors to reduce the technical and financial risks of projects.
This will be done through instruments such as credit risk guarantees and capital market “blue bonds”.
The Oceans Financing Initiative will be piloted in Southeast Asia in collaboration with the Asean Infrastructure Fund and the Republic of Korea.
The World Wide Fund for Nature, a longtime partner of ADB, will support the design and implementation of the financing initiative.