Niue, a small island nation in the South Pacific, is taking a bold step towards its ambitious conservation goals with a first-of-its-kind sustainable funding initiative to safeguard its sovereign waters: Ocean Conservation Commitments.
Ocean Conservation Commitments or OCCs are innovative financing mechanisms that fund the protection of 1km² of Niue’s ocean territory for 20 years, as well as foster a sustainable blue economy for the people of Niue.
During the launch of the programme in New York in September, Niue’s Premier, Hon. Dalton Tagelagi, announced that the Government of Niue will sponsor nearly 1,700 units, or one for each resident of Niue. This important initiative will be managed by the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) Trust, which is establishing an endowment of at least US$18 million to directly fund Niue’s conservation efforts. The NOW Trust is a New Zealand Charitable Trust established by the island nation’s first public-private-partnership between the Government of Niue and Tofia Niue (a local non-profit organization)—this after seven years of successful collaboration.
Niue’s marine territory is 1,200 times larger than its land mass. Its enormous marine reserve, the Moana Mahu Marine Protected Area spans 127,000km²—constituting 40% of Niue’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)—and is a sanctuary to pristine coral reefs, undersea mountains and diverse marine life such as sharks, whales, dolphins, manta rays, and turtle species. By sponsoring the OCCs and/or making general donations, you will play a pivotal role in preserving Niue’s pristine marine ecosystems for the betterment of its people and the global community as a whole.
There are 127,000 OCCs available for sponsorship—and sponsorship of 1 OCC is US$148 (NZ$250), which enables sponsors to become direct contributors to Niue’s marine conservation, climate resilience, sustainable development efforts, and associated outcomes. Donors may sponsor one or more OCCs; each representing the cost of protecting and managing 1km² of Niue’s ocean territory. At the moment, several NGOs and private donors have already committed to sponsor the first OCCs, which include the Blue Nature Alliance; cryptocurrency company founder, Chris Larsen and his wife, Lyna Lam; and Conservation International.
“The proceeds raised through the OCC sponsorships will be held and managed by the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) Trust, and they will be used to fund a range of conservation, resilience, and sustainable development efforts that reinforce durable ocean conservation and sustainably manage the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Territorial Sea (TTS), all of which are part of the Niue Nukutuluea Multiple-Use Marine Park, established in 2022,” says Premier Tagelagi, adding that “as a small island nation, Niue’s vast marine territory holds immense ecological, cultural, and economic value to our people; the ocean is everything to us.”
He also affirms that with the establishment of the Niue Nukutuluea Multiple-Use Marine Park last year and culminating with the launch of the OCC, Niue has established itself as a small but important global leader in ocean conservation.
The OCCs’ funding will enable Niue to accomplish various conservation efforts in its marine environment, such as improving community participation and monitoring, strengthening control and surveillance capabilities for compliance and enforcement.
“Niue will now have the ability to implement monitoring and evaluation activities to assess reef health and fish stocks and strengthen coastal management plans for the island’s 14 villages. Moreover, we are keen to also fund ocean conservation education programmes and scholarships for Niuean children and community members, as well as promote traditional knowledge and practices in park management. Ultimately, this approach to funding marine conservation via OCCs will empower Niue to build a climate resilient and sustainable blue economy to ensure long-term durability,” Premier Tagelagi continued.
Blue Nature Alliance Steering Council member and CEO of Conservation International, M. Sanjayan, expresses his elation: “Even the smallest nations can make global waves. Congratulations to Niue, whose leadership in conservation is proving that our 30×30 ambitions are entirely attainable when we unite governments and private funders around innovative funding,” adding that “we hope other island governments seize the historic momentum to protect the pristine beauty and life-sustaining bounties of our ocean.”
Meanwhile, the Government of Niue is encouraging individuals, corporations and foundations, multi-laterals and bilateral development partners to support Niue’s conservation efforts by sponsoring its OCCs through the NOW Trust website or by direct enquiry with the NOW Trust. It also notes that all contributions made are strictly for conservation and cannot be used as a financial or tradeable product like carbon credits—and does not grant ownership or claims over any ocean real estate.
To learn more about the NOW Trust and/or sponsor an OCC, please visit www.niueoceanwide.com