By Pita Ligaiula at COP28 in Dubai, UAE

In a move towards ocean conservation, Coral Pasisi, Director of the Climate Change and Sustainability Programme at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Monday revealed that Niue’s innovative financing mechanism, the Ocean Conservation Commitment (OCC), has received approximately NZ$7 million (US$4.28 million) in investments from various sources.

“We probably have around $7 million (US$4.28 million) worth of investment from a range of sources, right, from big philanthropy to hundreds of individuals across the world, small businesses, and even church groups. Some church groups have raised money and wanted to purchase ocean conservation credits in the name of their church,” she said in a media interview in Dubai.

The OCC operates as a unique financing model, enabling the protection of 1 kilometres of Niue’s ocean waters for an extended period of 20 years. This initiative extends beyond conservation, aiming to leverage the development of Niue’s broader climate-resilient natural environment and blue economy.

What sets the OCC apart is its approach to inclusivity and meaningful engagement.

“When you buy one, you get a certificate that you can give to other people, as well as you can put it in their name if you want to. And what we’re finding is a lot of people are buying them and gifting them to their children, which is a lovely gesture of intergenerational equity.

“There’s nothing stopping a multilateral organisation putting funds into the trust, and OCC as well. Already, they have reached out to us, trying to explore how they could put their funding directly into the trust instead of having to go through a project proposal,” she said.

She highlighted the importance of long-term strategies, Pasisi emphasised the need for sustained funding over extended periods.

“It’s how we could move away as countries from big projects and very short periods of time to big funding that is available for our countries to draw down over a longer period of time,” Pasisi said.

Addressing the challenges faced by the Pacific region, Pasisi stressed the urgency of transitioning away from fossil fuel-based energy.

“Our region is currently 80 percent of our energy is still fossil fuel-based now electricity, and nearly 100 percent of our transport sectors, both maritime and land, is fossil fuel-based,” she said.

Pasisi stressed the need for investment and capacity-building to facilitate the transition to green economies and technologies, expressing concerns about becoming a dumping ground for obsolete technology from developed nations.

She warned against repeating past mistakes and highlighted the big task ahead.

“We do not want to be that.”
“We have a big job in a very short period of time. We need the resources, but we also need the capacity to make that transformation,” said Pasisi.

Niue’s OCC stands as a beacon of hope for sustainable ocean conservation, uniting diverse stakeholders in a shared commitment to safeguarding the environment for future generations.