UNDP and GEF Launch $135 Million BGI-IP

In a big step towards making environmental sustainability a possibility, the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility have finally announced the US$135 million. Worth of funding for the (BGI-IP) Blue and Green Islands Integrated Programme. At the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, they announced a one-of-a-kind initiative to the world. This program underscores the fact that nature is at the center of sustainable development in Small Island Developing States.

BGI-IP Scaling: Local Initiatives

The BGI-IP uses nature-based solutions to address pressure caused by environmental degradation in the key sectors of urban development, food production, and tourism. The program will enhance resilience and sustainability in some of the 15 targeted SIDs . Fifteen countries  selected from a pool of applicants following a competitive “Expressions of Interest.” The selected countries fall into the following geographic regions: Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and South China Sea (AIS).

The program focuses on scaling local initiatives  implemented locally and that will address some of the specific challenges that are currently being experienced by the communities in SIDS. Fifteen countries selected: Belize, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cuba, Maldives, Mauritius, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Seychelles, Timor Leste, Trinidad & Tobago and Vanuatu. The resources will focus on sustainable agriculture and fishing. Reduction of waste, including ocean plastic; nature-positive tourism; and resilience in extreme weather events.

Nature-Positive Tourism: BGI-IP Vision for SIDS

The GEF-funded BGI-IP managed by the UNDP is a collaboration of UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the International Union for Conversation of Nature, WWF-US, the World Bank as well as other partners.

This was how Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, described the importance of the initiative: “SIDS are on the frontlines of climate change and nature loss, facing the harsh realities of sea-level rise, unpredictable weather patterns, and degraded ecosystems. However, their unique situation also means they are driving forward a remarkable range of innovative and interconnected solutions. The Global Environment Facility provides invaluable support. The Blue and Green Islands Programme will scale-up nature solutions in the food, tourism, and urban sectors. This will assist in the transition of some critical sectors from nature-negative to nature-positive. Contributing to improving the daily lives of people in the small islands as well as helping to revive the health of our natural world.”

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson, sounded the same horn, amidst underscoring, SIDS’s unique position as innovation incubators for sustainable development. “Nowhere is the connection between a strong economy and healthy environment and healthy people clearer than in the SIDS. Their unique vulnerabilities to biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate, and socio-economic changes, SIDS are the best incubators of innovation for sustainable development. The Blue and Green Integrated Islands Program is designed to address the need for obtaining actionable nature and ecosystems information. Among decision-makers, securing resources for actions that would matter, and building bridges across vast oceans to yield bigger results.”

Systemic Threats and a Promising Future

The interconnected programs, including the BGI-IP, address systemic threats that drive environmental degradation. By addressing threats across cities, food systems, plastics, and forest land use. The GEF invests in integrated programs that respond to all threats simultaneously. In aligning the program with the Antigua & Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS). We will address key barriers and promote a systematic shift in how ecosystems are protected and managed sustainably in SIDS.

The BGI-IP reflects a new tide of support for SIDS as we ride the wave of the Decade of Action from 2024 to 2034. It is an initiative promising significant global environmental benefits, fostering a sustainable and resilient future for our small island nations. Through concerted efforts and strong partnerships, BGI-IP will develop a blueprint for nature-positive development. Demonstrating the potential for the SIDS to lead in innovative and sustainable solutions to address the challenges posed by the environment and socio-economy.

Conclusion : A Sustainable Future

The Blue and Green Islands Integrated Programme (BGI-IP) represents an important milestone toward environmental sustainability in SIDS. By providing nature-based solutions and leveraging partnerships and participatory approaches. BGI-IP will address systemic threats and promote resilience in key sectors. With immense support from UNDP, GEF, and a host of other partners. BGI-IP does not only attest to the critical role of nature. But also foresees a promising future for SIDS against the backdrops of the Decade of Action. This initiative secures the path to a sustainable and resilient future and highlights the potential of SIDS. To lead in innovative solutions to global environmental challenges.

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