Ref# 2373
Ridge to Reef
Cook Islands, Fiji, Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Samoa with the GEF, UNDP, FAO, UNEP and SOPAC/SPC.
Progress reports/updates
Objective & Description
The goal of the Pacific Islands National Priorities Multi-Focal Area ‘Ridge-to-Reef’ (R2R) program is to maintain and enhance Pacific Island countries’ ecosystem goods and services (provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural) through integrated approaches to land, water, forest, biodiversity and coastal resource management that contribute to poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods and climate resilience. This goal will be achieved through a series of national multi-focal area R2R demonstration projects which will support and address national priorities and development needs while delivering global environmental benefits in line with GEF focal area strategies (Biodiversity, Land Degradation, Climate Change Mitigation, International Waters) and Climate Change Adaptation.

In this programme, the Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) emphasize the need to focus on their own priority national activities as they utilize STAR resources. Experience has shown that an integrated approach from ridge to reef (and ocean-Ridge to Reef or R2R) is necessary for poverty reduction, sustainability, and capacity enhancement for small countries with few human resources to undertake projects. Hence, each country is planning to adopt specific aspects of R2R (see Section E for details). For example, Cook Island’s and Palau’s focus is on protected areas and their effectiveness. As a follow-up to the Cook Island’s approach, representative and sustainable national system of terrestrial, coastal and marine protected areas are to be complemented by appropriate sector practices in adjoining or upstream watersheds to mitigate threats to conservation from outside protected areas. Palau plans to focus on managing the full range of its Protected Area Network in association with many areas not captured by the PAN. (areas targeted for sustainable land and forest management). It will focus on an integrated approach with regards to land-use management, forest management and water and coastal management to enhance their ecosystem services. Samoa is taking a different approach using LDCF resources. The occurrence of natural disasters underlines the vulnerability of
Samoa and the need for a coordinated response that protects the lives and assets of the Communities. The Government of Samoa through the LDCF programme intends to address the barrier of a fragmented policy and programmatic approach, by putting in place an enabling framework that will guide interventions on climate change adaptation/mitigation and DRR/DRM, and will make CC a priority of ‘economic and social concern’. This will reflect integrated approaches and contribute to the R2R programme.

Fiji’s R2R project will focus on enhancing integrated management of a series of forested watersheds to protect land, water, forest and biodiversity resources, maintain carbon stocks, and protect coastal mangrove and coral reef MPAs. Efforts in Kiribati will focus on creating a network of locally managed protected areas in remote atoll ecosystems and promoting sustainable land and water management practices for atoll land and agricultural systems. Nauru’s project will link improving management of new marine conservation areas with community engagement in improved landscape and water resources management including through soil and water conservation measures and enhancing
community water storage capacity. These on-the-ground efforts will be complemented by mainstreaming biodiversity and SLM into national policy and regulatory frameworks. Micronesia’s project will support expansion of both marine and terrestrial protected areas in all four Micronesian states, complemented by support to integrated ecosystem management and restoration outside protected areas to enhance ridge to reef connectivity. Work in Niue will focus on establishing new terrestrial and marine protected areas and enhancing ecosystem connectivity across such areas,
complemented by support to communities to manage their production activities outside designated conservation areas in an environmentally friendly manner.

PNG’s R2R project will help to strengthen the government’s operational capacity to effectively manage PNG’s PA system, including efforts to strengthen the government’s enforcement capabilities to address threats within its national parks. Marshall Islands’ comprehensive Ridge to Reef project will protect RMI’s  atoll ecosystems and improve community well-being through improved water supply and sanitation, sustainable agricultural practices, community managed marine and terrestrial protected areas, and promotion of low carbon energy technologies. Tonga features two national Ridge to Reef projects  that will strengthen and expand marine and terrestrial protected areas, enhance carbon storage through restoration of damaged forests and farmlands, build national climate resilience, and strengthen capacity for integrated water resources and coastal management. In Tuvalu, R2R will focus on strengthening protected areas management, rehabilitation of degraded coastal and inland forests, demonstrate small scale low carbon energy and water technologies, and support integrated water resources management. In Vanuatu, Ridge to Reef will focus on strengthening Vanuatu’s protected area network, sustainable management of production landscapes, and landscape restoration and forest degradation.

The national demonstration projects are complemented by an International Waters regional Ridge to Reef project as well as in several cases with adaptation activities (SCCF and LCCF). The regional component complements the national R2R projects to foster links between the on-going GEF-supported integrated water resources management (IWRM) initiative and this emerging R2R demonstration work on integrated coastal management (ICM) and conservation of so-called ‘blue forests’ (coastal wetlands), while ensuring coordination, learning, and knowledge management among the national projects and development assistance partners. The regional project will be implemented by SOPAC/SPC on behalf of UNDP and the 14 PICs.

Together, the national and regional projects that make up the Ridge to Reef program, not only respond to national priorities with global environmental benefits, but also responds to the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation and multiple sections of the Rio+20 Outcomes Document as a necessary step toward reducing poverty and sustaining island livelihoods. Innovative capacity building programs and partnership with the academic community would be key to sustaining program impact by developing local human capital and a network of local leaders/chiefs and would enable the transition to integrated ridge to reef approaches.

It is envisioned that this program will be the testing ground for longer term replication, mainstreaming and scaling up of innovative integrated natural resources management approaches that may be applicable for the Pacific SIDS and other regions. The program is also designed to prepare the countries for up-scaling by providing the requisite supportive governance in terms of mainstreamed enabling policies, responsive institutions and trained personnel.
Governance & Coordination Mechanisms
Implementation Methodologies
The Pacific Islands R2R program has been designed by the Pacific Island countries to strategically use their GEF STAR allocations to meet both their national priorities and adhere to relevant GEF focal area objectives, outcomes, indicators and outputs. Other than Papua New Guinea and Fiji, all the Pacific Island countries have STAR allocations less than $7 million which allows them flexibility to program all of their STAR resources across individual or multiple focal areas and focal area strategies. Using this flexibility, each national R2R project (PIF) is being designed to deliver tangible and quantifiable global environmental benefits across one or more GEF STAR focal areas, strategies, and funds, including consistency with BD, LD, CC-M, CC-A (SCCF) and IW focal areas as well as SFM. The R2R approach provides the appropriate framework for multi-focal projects addressing environmental and natural resource management issues in priority catchments and their linked coastal areas. Actions in each focal area are intended to complement each other to promote a truly integrated approach in managing biological diversity and other natural resources. The program seeks to focus on innovation, testing, and catalyzing implementation of cutting-edge methodologies, technologies and policy reforms with the objective of enabling replication and future scaling-up of integrated R2R approaches. The following paragraphs outline consistency of the proposed projects within the program with GEF 5 focal area Strategic Objectives, while not all projects address all objectives:

Biodiversity (BD) Strategy: The R2R program promotes the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem goods and services through the improved management of existing and new protected areas, sector reforms to conserve and sustainable use biological diversity, and the incorporation of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into planning frameworks. Three of the BD Strategic objectives for GEF 5 are addressed by projects
in the program (BD 1, 2, 5). The program supports the development and implementation of comprehensive protected areas systems and helps build the capacity required to achieve their financial sustainability consistent with BD-1:
Improve Sustainability of Protected Area Systems in order to strengthen PA management effectiveness. The program is consistent with BD-2: Mainstream Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use into Production Landscapes, Seascapes and Sectors in that it will increase and expand sustainably managed landscapes and seascapes that integrate biodiversity conservation while maintaining economic livelihoods that are closely tied to maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Watershed protection and sustainable forest management for water-related ecosystem services will translate seamlessly to biodiversity conservation along with incorporation of biodiversity conservation into policies and programs. Several national projects in the program aim to assist in meeting objective BD-5: Integrate CBD Obligations into National Planning Processes through Enabling Activities.

Land Degradation (LD) Strategy: The program seeks to contribute to arresting and reversing current trends in land degradation in the Pacific, which is aggravated by deforestation and unsustainable land management particularly in the more mountainous areas and other landscapes with fragile soils that are vulnerable to soil erosion. Three of the LD Strategic Objectives are addressed by projects in the program in an integrated fashion (LD 1, 2, 3). An enhanced enabling environment in the agriculture and forest sectors with their attendant national policy and institutional reforms will be complemented by innovative SLM practices in the pilot demo projects building on earlier enabling activities in the PICs in support of objectives LD-1: Agriculture and Rangeland Systems:Maintain or improve flow of agro-ecosystem services sustaining the livelihoods of local communities and LD-2: Forest Landscapes:Generate sustainable flows of forest ecosystem services in drylands, including sustaining livelihoods of forest dependent people. In particular, the program addresses objective 3 (LD-3: Integrated Landscapes: Reduce pressures on natural resources from competing land uses in the wider landscape) by reducing barriers to cross-sectoral collaboration (through adoption of integrated tools, including land-use plans and hazard area designation from the forested and agricultural uplands down to the tidal lowlands that so often receive adverse impacts from upstream agriculture and forestry activities). The program fosters the promotion of integrated landscape management practices adopted by local communities building on lessons learned from community-based and participative interventions from the GEF/UNDP/UNEP Pacific IWRM Project.
These demonstration initiatives run the gamut from investments in integrated watershed management through forest rehabilitation and conservation of degraded upland areas as well as conservation of riparian corridors and coastal/mangrove ecosystems.

Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: The program will support efforts to conserve and enhance carbon stocks through sustainable management of land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF), and reduce GHG emissions by reducing forest degradation pressures on these lands in the wider R2R landscape. CCM-5: LULUCF: Promote conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks through sustainable management of land use, land-use change, and forestry. Many of the
national projects will be linked, where opportunities exist, with cross-cutting Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) objectives and generate measurable reductions in GHG emissions. Several mitigation objectives will be achieved through the proposed national Project work on regulatory frameworks and through targeted activities at the regional level which aim to increase the commitment and strengthen the processes for mitigation of GHG emissions in protected area and
forest management.

Sustainable Forest Management SFM/REDD PLUS Strategy: Two of the SFM objectives for GEF 5 are addressed by projects in the program (SFM 1, 2). The program will achieve multiple environmental benefits from improved management of forests, in conformance with the GEF-5 strategy for SFM which aims to reduce pressures on forest resources and generate sustainable flows of forest ecosystem services and strengthen the enabling environment to reduce GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance carbon sinks from LULUCF activities. The twoobjectives that are addressed by the program are SFM 1: Forest Ecosystem Services: Reduce pressures on forest resources and generate sustainable flows of forest ecosystem services and SFM 2: Reducing Deforestation: Strengthen the enabling environment to reduce GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance carbon sinks from LULUCF activities. These GEF strategy objectives will be achieved through SFM promoted in-field activities that are integrated with forest biodiversity conservation, sustainable land management and climate change adaptation, consistent with the relevant country GEF-5 priorities. Management regimes are to be introduced that strengthen conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks will be supported, including the development of regulatory and institutional framework and the necessary tools. Projects under the Program will support the sustainable land management interventions articulated under the UNCCD National Plans of Action (NAPs)
of the participating PICs.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The program supports the PICs to become climate resilient by promoting both immediate and longer-term adaptation measures in development policies, plans, programs, projects and actions. It is aimed at reducing economic losses and social costs due to climate change, including from increased variability and more extreme climatic conditions of storms, droughts, floods, and sea-level rise.

Two of the CC-A GEF 5 objectives are addressed by projects in the program with funding through the SCCF1 (CC-A 1, 2). As noted in B.1.2, the projects are consistent with 8 of the 9 program priority areas for adaptation. Through the national and regional projects, the program helps PICs mainstream adaptation into the development sectors, ICM, and IWRM as well as updating risk and vulnerability assessments to include the R2R approach consistent with CCA-2: Increasing Adaptive Capacity: Increase adaptive capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change, including variability, at local, national, regional and global level. Additionally, the pilot demonstrations will help reduce vulnerability and strengthen physical, natural, and social assets consistent with CCA-1: Reducing Vulnerability:
Reduce vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change, including variability, at local, national, regional and global level, including pilot operations through the LDCF for Samoa.

International Waters (IW) Strategy (IW Strategic Objectives 1, 3): The program seeks to test cross-focal area (which means also cross-sector), integrated management of catchments, aquifers, and coastal/marine ecosystems of the Pacific Islands. The strategy of testing this R2R integrated management approach implemented through national multi-focal projects based on national priorities, complemented by a regional multi-focal project (consisting mostly of IW funding) poses serious coordination, cooperation, learning, experience sharing, and administrative costs for the PICs but is the only way to achieve a sustainable future for these vulnerable island states. The regional multi-focal project is primarily under the IW focal area and SCCF but also from IW and SCCF. Two of the IW Strategic Objectives are addressed by projects in the program (IW 1, 3). It is supportive of focal area strategic objective IW-1 for implementing IWRM where previously introduced (IW-1: Transboundary Basins/ Aquifers: Catalyze multi-state cooperation to balance conflicting water uses in trans-boundary surface and groundwater basins while considering climatic variability and change (and for SIDS IWRM) and supportive of objective IW-3 for building capacity and national commitments toward integrated ICM-IWRM R2R approaches as well as testing these practical on-the-ground approaches across focal areas to sustain communities in the face of increasing climatic fluctuations (IW-3: IW Capacity Building: Support foundational capacity building, portfolio learning, and targeted research needs for joint, ecosystem-based management of trans-boundary water systems, including ICM). For those countries wishing to adopt integrated approaches with water-related outcomes, an increment of GEF funding consistent with IW-3 and its ‘Learning by doing’ capacity building involving local pilot demonstration work included in a number of the national projects.
Arrangements for Capacity Building and Technology Transfer
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