Blue carbon ecosystems (i.e. mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses) support livelihoods, stabilise and protect coasts, and can play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, when degraded they can become significant sources of greenhouse gases and the benefits they offer diminish or disappear. Although lots of efforts are being placed to enhance the protection and restoration of blue carbon ecosystem, the finance mechanisms and policy frameworks that are needed to facilitate investment into protection and restoration remain poorly developed.
The Indian Ocean contains a disproportionate amount of the world’s blue carbon ecosystems, and the nations of the Indian Ocean are well-positioned to be global leaders in blue carbon protection and restoration. However, pressures associated with coastal developments have degraded these blue carbon ecosystems and eroded the natural capital that these ecosystems provide. Some of the highest rates of degradation occur in the Indian Ocean.
Owing to the high importance of this sector, Australia hosted the Indian Ocean Conference on Blue Carbon on 19-23 March 2018 in Perth and as a follow up of this initiative, Madagascar organised a Workshop on “Improving knowledge for research on blue carbon in the Western Indian Ocean. Focus on seagrass and mangrove ecosystems” on 29 April – 04 May 2019. In addition, in September 2019, Australia’s Foreign Minister announced the IORA Indian Ocean Blue Carbon Hub at the Third IORA Blue Economy Ministerial Conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Hub aims to build knowledge and capacity to protect and restore blue carbon ecosystems throughout the Indian Ocean, in a way that enhances livelihoods, reduces risks from coastal hazards, and helps mitigate climate change. A key activity to be implemented by the Hub is a set of short ‘think tank’ meetings that will target the most promising areas for accelerated action. The first of these ‘think tank’ meetings will focus on blue carbon finance.
In this line, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the Indian Ocean Blue Carbon Hub will host the inaugural think-tank, on Blue Carbon Finance in Mauritius on 25-26 February 2020. Its objectives include inter alia: to present innovations and successes in blue carbon finance, and to engage in discussion about the most promising avenues forward; to identify the barriers to effective and sustainable blue carbon finance, and potential solutions to those barriers; to provide a forum where potential investors, policymakers and practitioners can engage in discussions on opportunities to support the conservation and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems; to build capacity in blue carbon finance in IORA; to encourage IORA Member States to think about practical extensions of the options discussed in their unique contexts; to exchange information about finance mechanisms and policy frameworks; and to launch the IORA Blue Carbon Hub ‘think tank’ series.
The intent of the Hub ‘think tank’ series is to generate accelerated actions to support protection and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems in the Indian Ocean, underpinning a robust and resilient blue economy. The meeting will see the participation of IORA Member States, Dialogue Partners and experts on Blue carbon finance in the region. It is expected that the think-tank in Mauritius would give rise to a set of recommendations, including avenues for investors, and how blue carbon finance can be accessed by IORA Member States to support blue carbon ecosystems conservation and restoration actions.