Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday launched a $5 billion action plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies for the Asia and Pacific region.
The plan, unveiled at the ADB’s 52nd annual meeting in Fiji, will support the efforts of ADB’s developing member countries to achieve SDGs including goal 14: Life Below Water, said a press statement issued by ADB on Thursday.
The action plan will expand financing and technical assistance for ocean health and marine economy projects to $5 billion from 2019 to 2024, including co-financing from partners.
“The prosperity of our region depends on healthy oceans and sustainable development,” an ADB release quoted ADB President Takehiko Nakao as saying. “We must work toward a more resilient future, where humanity and oceans thrive together,” he added.
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.
For example, among the 10 rivers transporting 88 percent to 95 percent of plastics into the sea worldwide, 8 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.
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.