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Poverty-Environment Action for a Blue Economy

The Technical Assistance Project is embedded within the UNEP regional project, Coherent Implementation of the Environmental Dimension of Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific at the Regional and National levels. The technical assistance will focus on identifying and developing Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) / Poverty-Environment Action tools that support budgeting and financing for a blue economy and disseminating this work through a joint Asian Development Bank (ADB) / Poverty-Environment Action knowledge product and relevant forums including regional seas programmes and the  Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific.


Asia Development Bank (ADB), Coordinating Body for the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA)


This technical assistance will increase awareness and broaden the application of PEI/Poverty-Environment Action tools, including those in the PEI tools compendium and the PEI 2017 publication on related to Integrated Planning, Financing and Budgeting. By mainstreaming these tools into a joint ADB/ Poverty-Environment Action knowledge product, Poverty-Environment Action aims to guide the planning and implementation of ADB’s Ocean Finance Initiative which aims to mobilize and align US$5 billion of investment to support blue economy in Asia Pacific over five years.  At the same time, this knowledge product and the PEI/Poverty-Environment Action tools included in the product will also be used to inform the work of the UNEP administered Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) which is a policy coordination and decision-making inter-governmental body. COBSEA consists of nine member States and focuses on marine- and land-based pollution, coastal and marine habitat conservation, and management and response to coastal disasters through information management, national capacity building, addressing strategic and emerging issues and regional cooperation.


Mainstreaming Context

Billions of people in Asia and the Pacific, especially poor and vulnerable communities, depend on healthy ocean ecosystems for livelihoods, food, good health, and enjoyment. Coral reefs and mangroves are important natural buffers that protect the region’s growing coastal populations against increasingly common and severe extreme weather events like storms and coastal flooding. However, climate change, pollution, unsustainable fishing, and rapid coastal development are threatening the productivity of our oceans. Healthy marine ecosystems are therefore crucial for the food security and livelihoods of billions of people in Asia and the Pacific. The concept of a "blue economy" emerged at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - or Rio+20. It is based on the premise that healthy and sustainable ocean ecosystems are more productive and essential for sustainable ocean-based economies and livelihoods. This concept promotes economic growth, social inclusion and improved livelihoods at the same time as ensuring the environmental sustainability of oceans and seas. Securing these opportunities requires that the poverty-environment nexus is integrated into the blue economy planning and financing mechanisms being developed by member States and key development partners in Asia and the Pacific.

Main Activities

Preparation of a joint ADB/Poverty-Environment Action report, Opportunities and Challenges for Investment in the Sustainable Blue Economy of Asia and the Pacific, as a joint knowledge product that integrates the poverty-environment nexus.

The technical assistance project will support a workshop with COBSEA member States to identify, review, and inform poverty-environment-related tools and best practices that can support blue economy planning and financing.

Expected Achievements

The joint ADB/Poverty-Environment Action report, Opportunities and Challenges for Investment in the Sustainable Blue Economy of Asia and the Pacific, will consist of sections that will highlight the following issues:

  • Defining the boundaries of Blue Economy Activities
  • Mapping Blue Economy Sectors to Sustainable Development Goals based on Impact assessment
  • Blue Economy Finance – Data and Market Review
  • Market Assessment and Blue Economy Finance Needs Assessment
  • Conclusions and Recommendations to Incorporate Identification of Financing Gaps and Opportunities for the Development on New Financing Mechanisms

The project will develop a policy brief on poverty-environment action for a blue economy that will be disseminated to UNEP-administered regional seas programmes in West Africa, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northwest Pacific, Caspian Sea, and East Africa. The brief will also draw on the findings of the broader joint ADB/Poverty-Environment Action report.

Lessons Learned

Both UNDP and UNEP can draw on a body of work and expertise related to the blue economy and financing. In 2019, UNDP launched a Blue Lab which is a part of UNDP’s Global Accelerator Labs Network, the world’s largest and fastest learning network to address development challenges in today’s era wherein complex changes are happening at new, rapid speeds. UNDP has also published work on blue economy and livelihood solutions drawing on its Global Environment Facility (GEF) small grants portfolio. UNEP’s Sustainable Blue Economy Initiative takes an integrated approach to assist countries develop and implement policies and actions that ensure long-term sustainable, climate resilient and equitable blue economies. This includes:

  • Science-based policymaking informed by mapping
  • Assessment and valuation of ecosystem services, vulnerabilities and risks
  • Circular economy approach and resource-use efficiency
  • Integrated management and ocean governance for sustainable use of ocean space and resources
  • Innovative financing to support investments in long-term viable and equitable ocean economies for sustainable development.

The project will utilize the existing resources to enhance the quality of products developed and disseminated.

The Way Forward

The recommendations of the joint ADB/Poverty-Environment Actino report, Opportunities and Challenges for Investment in the Sustainable Blue Economy of Asia and the Pacific, will be used to inform the five- year ADB Ocean Financing Initiative, UNEP’s Sustainable Blue Economy Initiative and regional seas programmes globally and UNDP’s Blue Lab. It is therefore expected that this will guide work for development partners and members states in subsequent years.

In addition to the COBSEA workshop under Technical Assistance activity 2, ADB will use its own resources to convene 2-3 workshops likely in Philippines, Fiji, Indonesia to disseminate the findings of the joint ADB/Poverty-Environment Action report.

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