The Commonwealth Secretariat has released a report that highlights the urgent need for coordinated action on the ocean in the plans that countries submit for tackling climate change under the Paris Agreement.
Blueing the NDCs is a comprehensive analysis of ocean-based actions within the climate strategies of 49 coastal and island member states in the Commonwealth. It serves as a critical guide for countries that seek to prioritise their ocean-based commitments.
The report was launched today by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, at a side event at COP 28, the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai. The report’s recommendations focus on countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs); these are initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identify how countries can adapt to climate change.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General said:
“The report's findings come at a critical time, with climate change causing increasingly irreversible damage to terrestrial, coastal, and open ocean ecosystems.
“With over 2.5 billion people in the Commonwealth, a third of whom are coastal dwellers, highly vulnerable to climate change, the report underscores the urgency of transformative ocean-climate action.”
Nicholas Hardman-Mountford, Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, highlighted the report's importance as a guide for governments aiming to foster dialogues on incorporating oceans into their global climate strategies. He added:
“The report also underscores the need for more accessible funding mechanisms to enable governments to meet their ambitions. Although some progress has been made, it’s a call for increased cooperation under the Commonwealth Blue Charter to support ocean-based actions.
“It shows that many countries are also undertaking significant ocean-based actions that are not adequately captured in their NDCs, presenting a missed opportunity to leverage climate funding.”
The Commonwealth Blue Charter is an agreement by all 56 Commonwealth countries to actively cooperate to solve ocean-related challenges and meet their commitments for sustainable ocean action.
Key findings and future directions
- Widespread Ocean Commitments: All Commonwealth coastal and island states have included at least one ocean-related target in their NDCs, highlighting the universal recognition of the ocean-climate nexus.
- SIDS Leading in Ocean-Based Actions: More than 75 per cent of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and large ocean states have mainstreamed ocean-based actions and commitments in their NDCs by integrating cross-cutting ocean actions across a broad range of policy areas.
- Champions of Blue Carbon and Coastal Resilience: Fiji, Kiribati, and Bangladesh are leading in blue carbon initiatives and building coastal climate resilience.
- Incremental Progress with Revised NDCs: Only six Commonwealth countries submitted revised NDCs in 2023, showing limited progress due to a lack of policy alignment.
- Regional Focus on Blue Carbon and Ecosystem Protection: Caribbean, African, and Asian countries are spearheading blue carbon commitments and protecting climate-critical habitats like mangroves and coral reefs.
- Maritime Shipping and Renewable Energy: The Pacific region leads in maritime shipping commitments, while Singapore and the UK excel in ocean-based renewable energy, particularly floating photovoltaic technology and offshore wind.
- Building Coastal Resilience: Asian and African countries, highly vulnerable to climate change, have extensively mapped ocean-based actions for building coastal resilience, focusing on supporting vulnerable communities.
- Under-Reported Marine Tourism: Marine and coastal tourism, a potential major segment of the ocean economy, remains significantly under-reported.
The updated report was prepared by Oxford Policy Management, and supported by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation. The publication provides an in-depth understanding of the opportunities and challenges in ocean-based climate action. The publication reflects the Commonwealth's steadfast commitment to sustainable ocean management and climate action.
Additionally, the Oceans and Natural Resources team at the Commonwealth Secretariat, recently hosted a webinar that showcased the findings from the Blueing the NDCs report and provided in-depth insights into the key outcomes and recommendations. Watch the webinar recording.
- Victoria Holdsworth Head of CHOGM Media Delivery, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat