Case study: building local and regional resilience through the Pacific partnership on ocean acidification, Pacific islands

Credit: Jana Steingaesser, Ministry of Climate,
Oceans & Resilience (MiCORE)

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“The Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification (PPOA) is empowering Pacific Island communities to face the challenges posed by ocean acidification. PPOA works directly with stakeholders at all levels, from school children to women’s groups, village leaders and policy-makers. By building Pacific capacity to confront ocean acidification, PPOA supports Pacific communities to monitor their own coastal ocean chemistry, develop national policies to address ocean acidification and apply Pacific traditional ecological knowledge to adapt their coastal ecosystems to become more resilient to the threat of ocean acidification.”

Dr Duncan McIntosh, PPOA Project Manager at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme


The Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification (PPOA) is a four-year collaborative project between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme SPREP, the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the Pacific Community (SPC) with the goal of building resilience to ocean acidification in the Pacific Islands. The project’s pilot sites are in Fiji, Kiribati and Tokelau and activities focus on research and monitoring, capacity-building and awareness-raising, policy support and implementing practical adaptation actions. Financial support is provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Principality of Monaco.

The issue

Small island developing states (SIDS), such as nations in the Pacific Island region, are highly exposed to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, given their close proximity to the marine environment and their reliance on marine resources for livelihoods and infrastructure.

In particular, the Pacific Islands are especially vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification. For example, as the ocean acidifies it becomes more difficult for coral reefs to calcify, resulting in net dissolution. As the coral structure erodes, the reef becomes a less effective force against wave and storm erosion, and it is harder to keep up with sea level rise.

In addition, the tourism infrastructure and fisheries industries in the Pacific Islands rely heavily on healthy coral reefs. Therefore, the impacts of ocean acidification in the region strongly affect community resilience and economic well-being.

The response

The Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification (PPOA) was created to address needs identified during the Third UN SIDS Conference in Apia, Samoa, in 2014 following the International Workshop on Ocean Acidification: State-of-the-Science Considerations for SIDS, cohosted by New Zealand and the USA.

The project identified three main areas of focus: Research and Monitoring; Capacity-Building and Awareness-Raising; and Practical Adaptation Actions. The Research and Monitoring component focuses on establishing ecological baselines, supporting ocean acidification monitoring and conducting vulnerability assessments. The Capacity-Building and Awareness-Raising component builds the capacity of local communities to understand, monitor and adapt to ocean acidification and raise awareness through media production and distribution in order to develop effective coastal zone management.

Lastly, the Practical Adaptation Actions component includes working with communities to identify and implement stakeholder priorities for adaptation actions to enhance ecosystem resilience to ocean acidification. Adaptation actions include mangrove and seagrass restoration, coral restoration, locally managed marine areas and alternative livelihood opportunities.

Josephine Latu-Sanft, The Commonwealth Blue Charter, 20 May 2022. Full article.

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