Blue Solutions at the UNFCCC COP23

Blue Solutions at the UNFCCC COP23

The 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in the German city of Bonn from 6 to 18 November 2017. Under the presidency of the Republic of Fiji – a large ocean state that is already heavily affected by the impacts of climate change – the role of the ocean was very relevant in many of the negotiations. Events that highlighted this focus were the launch of the Ocean Pathway Partnership and the Oceans Action Day of the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action on 11 November.

The Blue Solutions Initiative was involved in several side events around COP23 that dealt with the integration of the ocean into Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), focal points in marine research in Germany and global knowledge exchange of solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Towards Ocean-related NDCs

On 5 November, just before the start of COP23, the ‘Because the Ocean’ Initiative invited decision-makers and practitioners to this side event to discuss the integration of the ocean and its climate services in NDCs.

Blue Solutions presented its capacity development formats and approach of sharing local solutions and highlighting them at an international level and during international science policy events. Further panel discussions and presentations reflected on how and where oceans are integrated in NDCs and how approaches such as Blue Carbon aim to bridge the gap between biodiversity and climate discussions.
Following the event, four additional countries (UK, Finland, Honduras and Romania) signed the ‘Because the Ocean’ declaration and joined 28 other signatories supporting the inclusion of the ocean in NDCs; or as Hon. Minister Inia Seruiratu, high-level Climate Champion for COP23 stated: “It should now be clearly recognised that the climate action needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement will never be enough if the ocean is not part of that action.”


On 7 November, the scientific Forum Mare:N, organized by the German Ministry of Science and Technology (BMBF) gathered over 40 representatives from scientific institutions, universities, NGOs and government institutions, to discuss priorities for scientific research in the ‘Blue Ocean’. Blue Solutions and GIZ’s sector programme ‘Implementing the Biodiversity Convention’ participated and provided input considered relevant for development cooperation such as livelihoods, sustainable resource use, biodiversity conservation and governance. Three themes related to the Open Ocean were discussed during the forum: Marine Resources, Stressors and Interfaces. Participants rotated between themes in three discussion rounds to generate ideas, consolidate the most important topics, and reach a synthesis. The outcome will serve as input for the Mare:N Begleitkreis, a group of scientists in charge of formulating a research program that sets priorities for the BMBF for the coming years.

Climate Knowledge Brokers

On 11 November, the Climate Knowledge Brokers invited its members present at the COP23 to a 1-day workshop, which included a discussion with representatives from IPCC on capacity development and potential contributions of the Climate Knowledge Brokers group to the discussion and the process. This included for example recommendations on the adaptation of a web portal featuring capacity development activities from all over the world.
For Blue Solutions, this day presented a great opportunity to exchange with fellow knowledge brokers, share lessons learned and build new partnerships with the goal to better support the exchange of marine and coastal management solutions, a global exchange and the facilitation of new partnerships.

Rare’s Solution Search

Blue Solutions is not alone in its efforts and approach to share and replicate solution examples – many like-minded initiatives and organisations are working on promoting local examples and creating a culture of learning and exchanging around our experiences. Rare is an organization that has long worked on promoting great examples through their Solution Searches – a contest to highlight and then replicate solutions from a certain topic. This year’s solution search was looking for solutions related to agriculture and biodiversity. Blue Solutions was involved in the judging of the 10 finalists of this search, who were awarded their prizes at a reception on 14 November. This high-level event as well as a workshop session earlier the same day, brought the 10 finalists from all over the world together to share their approaches and present their work.

PANORAMA – Solutions for a Healthy Planet

As a partner in the PANORAMA – Solutions for a Healthy Planet partnership, Blue Solutions co-hosted a side event on 16 November with more than 90 participants. The PANORAMA community launched the fourth theme of the PANORAMA online platform on ‘Agriculture and Biodiversity’ that is hosted by GIZ and Rare.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony during the launch of the new ‘Agriculture and Biodiversity’ theme of the PANORAMA platform © GIZ/Wolter

Dr. Elsa Nickel, Director General, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, opened the event together with Dr. Lorenz Petersen, Director  of the GIZ Division Climate Change, Rural Development, Infrastructure, and Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare. All speakers emphasized the importance of global knowledge exchange for climate action and biodiversity conservation and how an initiative such as PANORAMA is advancing this very important aspect of our work. Marie Fischborn, project manager at IUCN, presented origin, approach and vision of the PANORAMA initiative and providers of solution examples presented their successful approaches from around the world. In subsequent group discussions, participants provided valuable inputs on topics such as the integration of local solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation into global policy processes, or collaborations and business development for this initiative to continue into the future.