Building a Sustainable Blue Economy in the Pacific Islands

Blue Economy ClimAccelerator in the Pacific Islands Winner & Runner Ups with Katerina Syngellakis – GGGI Pacific Regional Director & Shaheen Ali – Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives, SMEs and Communications

Obed Timakata, from Makatea Village in Emae Island, Vanuatu, has dedicated his life to preserving the ocean and the life it sustains. As the Director of Organic Fish + Farm Mariculture Enterprise, Obed has been instrumental in promoting sustainable, regenerative, and climate-responsive marine species that ensure food and nutritional security while also creating employment opportunities, particularly for women.

Obed is one of nine participants from different Pacific Island nations, including Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands, who graduated from the Blue Economy ClimAccelerator program. This five-month business incubator program, offered by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), provided Obed and his fellow participants with a unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge and business solutions around the blue economy.

During the program, Obed met Igo Gari, the founder of Hiri Coral PNG. Igo’s business in Hiri District in Papua New Guinea collaborates with local communities to restore dying and damaged reefs by growing diverse and resilient corals and transplanting them into threatened reefs.

Igo shared, “Coral reef restoration has become my life’s passion, and this program has equipped us with a valuable toolkit not only to generate income by aiding nature’s recovery but also to connect Building a Sustainable Blue Economy in the Pacific Islands with the amazing locals who are the true custodians of this marine paradise.”

Almost 98% of the Pacific region is ocean. The ocean and its extensive resources are central to the lives and future prosperity of Pacific Island peoples. Thousands of coastal communities across the region rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and food security. Pacific communities and peoples reply on the Blue Economy.

The Blue Economy is about creating sustainable economic growth from the ocean, while also protecting the health of the ocean and its ecosystems. In support of developing a sustainable Blue Economy in the Pacific, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) launched the Blue Economy ClimAccelerator in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC and with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland (‘Irish Aid’).

”The impacts of climate change, rising sea levels, increased storm frequency and intensity, and changes in ocean chemistry are all having significant impacts on the region’s communities and economies,” said Daniel Muñoz-Smith, GGGI Country Representative for Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu. “At the same time, the ocean is a crucial resource for the region, providing food, livelihoods and cultural heritage to millions of people, providing support to entrepreneurs who are seeking to build businesses that contribute to sustainable economic growth, while also protecting the health of the ocean and its ecosystems is critical.”

Obed’s and Igo’s fellow ClimAccelerator participants are:

  • Defiant Robotics (Tonga)
    Manufacturing solar-powered 3D-printed robots that will collect ocean waste and plastics that are reused to print more robots.
  • GenOrganics (Fiji)
    Producing organic fertiliser from seaweed, fish meal and other organic materials as a substitute for chemical fertilisers.
  • Haleta Seaweed (Solomon Islands)
    Creating opportunities and livelihoods for women and youth in rural communities by farming seaweed while creating a carbon sink.
  • Howarig Traders (Papua New Guinea)
    Developing a blockchain payments solution for carbon trading benefits to flow transparently to landowners with mangroves and forestry.
  • Kiribati Blue Marine Solution (Kiribati)
    Providing affordable, reliable, sustainable desalination technology and solar/wind off-grid systems for affected communities and households, and marine vessels.
  • Samoa Women’s Association of Growers (Samoa)
    Promoting women in agriculture to implement natural farming practices and small business development through seaweed fertiliser.
  • Mangaliliu Marine Coastal Rehabilitation Project (Vanuatu)
    Providing services in marine tourism and conservation through a turtle hatchery, coral and mangrove re-planting for endangered species.

Blue Economy ClimAccelerator in the Pacific Islands Finalists, Winner & Runner Ups

These Blue Economy enterprises have benefited from the ClimAccelerator program by building and strengthening their business plans through weekly online learning sessions, mentorship and coaching as well as market and investor linkages designed to support participants in building viable business plans.

Building market linkages and connections to investors is crucial for entrepreneurs in the Pacific Islands, where lack of access to capital and market linkages can be a major barrier to starting and growing a business. The ClimAccelerator program culminated in a 3-day event held in Suva, Fiji, where participants were given the platform to connect with potential investors and partners and showcase their business plans and ideas.

The event also included a ‘talanoa’ panel discussion organized by GGGI and Archipelagic & Island States Forum (AIS) on access to finance challenges and opportunities for blue and green entrepreneurs in the Pacific.

The session featured well-known Pacific entrepreneurs and industry experts – Kenneth Katafono, Founder of TraSeable Solutions, Lagi Fisher, National Coordinator of the Financial Management Counsellors Association of Fiji; Eseta Nadakuitavuki, the Chairwoman of Fiji’s Women Entrepreneurs Business Council, and Arpana Pratap, Director of Blue Economy at the Pacific Islands Development Forum – who shared their insights and experiences on developing and scaling sustainable solutions for the blue and green economy.

Conservation International & Haya Development also organized a session on balancing ocean conservation and livelihoods and understanding the business impacts on ocean conservation through practical examples and tools.

On the last day of the event, a Demo Day was organized for ClimAccelerator participants to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges, investors, and industry experts (including representatives from United Nations Development Programme, International Labour Organisation, Matanataki, AIS Forum and GGGI), explaining how they harness local resources to adapt to the climate crisis and contribute to regeneration and sustainability of ocean ecosystems. Excitement was palpable in the air as participants presented their pitches.

Softspoken Obed took out the coveted first place, impressing the judges with the business viability and the potential of his pilot of sea cucumber farming site in collaboration with a marine biologist from Japan. He was awarded EUR 8,000 in funding for his business, in addition to a year-long membership to Greenhouse Co-working virtual community.

When asked what the win meant to him and his business, Obed said “I am deeply grateful to have won first place in the Blue Economy ClimAccelerator program. This recognition is not just for me, but for the entire community of Emae, in the Shepherd Islands and our chiefs as stewards and protectors of our ocean resources and sustainable livelihoods. The prize money will help us expand our efforts and empower more women to become involved in our mariculture enterprise.”

Igo, along with Mele Mauala of Samoa Women’s Association of Growers placed runner-up at the Prize Award/business pitch competition and were each awarded EUR 6,000 as well as Greenhouse Co-working virtual community memberships.

Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Mele said: “Despite the diversity of the countries and cultures represented in our cohort we are unified in our purpose which is to conserve, to innovate and to be entrepreneurs who inspire and we celebrate this opportunity because we know this is the first step of many to making sure that we can ensure that we inspire others in our country to do even more.”

Mr. Shaheen Ali, the Permanent Secretary for Fiji’s Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications, presented the awards to participants, along with Ms. Katerina Syngellakis, Regional Director of GGGI Pacific. In his remarks Mr. Ali said, “We as a region are capable of coming up with solutions collectively to address one of the greatest challenges faced by our people, and that is the survival of our ocean which sustains us,“ Mr Ali said.

No participants left Suva empty-handed. Along with newfound connections, inspiration and confidence, all the other participants were awarded the finalist prizes of EUR 5,000 each to invest in their businesses.

For up-to-date information on related entrepreneurship programs for blue and
climate-related businesses, visit and