Biodiversity-rich natural environments in the South Pacific are under intensive pressure caused by human activities and climate change. AFD and the French GEF are going to finance a regional cooperation project called RESCCUE in order to preserve this wealth. The project involves communities in maintaining ecosystems by developing the services that these ecosystems provide for them.
Ecosystem preservation, a key challenge for the region
The geographical isolation of island communities in the South Pacific, the small size of their territories and their culture make them extremely dependent on their natural environment for their activities and survival: fishing, farming, drinking water, coastal protection…
The risk of the depletion of natural resources compromises their economic opportunities and poses a threat for their food and economic security. Ecosystem preservation is consequently a key regional challenge.
© Marc le Chélard
Strengthening local community governance
For ecosystems to continue to provide communities with the services they rely on, they need to be restored, maintained and strengthened in order to make them more resilient and guarantee their productivity.
This is the philosophy of the RESCCUE (Restoration of Ecosystem Services against Climate Change Unfavorable Effects) project. It aims to come up with long-term economic and financial solutions to ensure that ecosystem services in the Pacific islands are maintained, while strengthening the governance of local communities and their risk management capacities. This will contribute to preserving exceptional biodiversity and helping island societies and communities to adapt to climate change.
A comprehensive territorial approach: the “ridge-to-riff”
RESCCUE focuses on scaling up financing for the integrated management of coastal areas in the South Pacific islands and making it sustainable.
It specifically draws on the results of the Coral Reef InitiativeS for the Pacific (CRISP), implemented from 2005 to 2011 and mainly supported by AFD and the French Global Environment Facility (French GEF).
It will target the countries that are the most involved in this program: two French Pacific territories (New Caledonia and French Polynesia) and two island countries (Fiji and Vanuatu). These countries have a multitude of geographical, ecological, socioeconomic and cultural features, which cover part of the situations encountered in the Pacific.
This choice also aims to further integrate French communities into their regional environment, while promoting French expertise in scientific research and integrated coastal management.
© Marc le Chélard
Very new concept in the Pacific
RESCCUE also offers to set up economic and financial instruments, including payments for ecosystem services at six pilot sites in the Pacific. The aim is to ensure that the funding for the activities to maintain the sites will continue when the project reaches completion. Although this concept is very new in the Pacific, it was immediately approved by the governments taking part in the project, as well as by several donors who will be cofinancing activities at these sites.
The combination of pilot sites in the territories of developed countries (New Caledonia and French Polynesia) and developing countries (Fiji and Vanuatu) has a strong regional interest, as the more advanced countries develop models that will subsequently be implemented in the rest of the Pacific. There is also a component to disseminate the results to other Pacific sites. RESCCUE will consequently strengthen regional cooperation and disseminate French expertise in the South Pacific islands.
In 2013, AFD and the French GEF are both providing EUR 2m of grant financing to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, a regional organization which is leading the project. This project could be extended to other Pacific countries if additional financing is provided. Cofinancing from multilateral donors will be sought in particular, with a view to extending the scope of action for the tools designed under the RESCCUE project to a regional level.
© Marc le Chélard