SINGAPORE: An international institute that will help protect and restore coastal marine ecosystems across Southeast Asia and beyond will be set up in Singapore.
The International Blue Carbon Institute, established by Amazon and Conservation International, was launched on Monday (Nov 14) at the COP27 summit in Egypt.
Blue carbon is the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems, such as mangroves and tidal marshes. These ecosystems store large quantities of carbon in both the plants and the sediment below and are recognised as an essential part of the solution to global climate change.
"Southeast Asia, with its vast stretches of mangroves and coastal ecosystems, has tremendous potential for blue carbon initiatives that will also support environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods and heritage of local communities," said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu at the launch.
Working with partners across the region, the institute will build the capacity needed to accelerate and scale up efforts to protect and restore the coastal marine ecosystem, she added.
Southeast Asia holds more than one-third of the world's mangrove forests, said Amazon in a press release, adding that the greatest loss of mangrove forests is also in this region.
"In Asia through to the Pacific Islands, coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to sea-level rise and stronger storms. Blue carbon ecosystems fortify communities against climate effects while providing fresh water, supporting biodiversity, and other natural benefits," said Amazon.
The institute will serve as a knowledge hub to build capacity, expertise, standards and methodology to develop and scale projects, Amazon added.
It will also work with governments across Southeast Asia and beyond to "integrate blue carbon into climate change mitigation policies".
"To realise this potential, we need enablers. First, we need to develop the methodologies, tools and scientific research to quantify its benefits," said Ms Fu.
"Second, countries need to build up the human capacity to design, develop and implement high-quality blue carbon projects. Third, we need partnerships among stakeholders, in academia, policy, philanthropy, in the region to scale these solutions, and unlock opportunities."
The institute will expand education for practitioners, policymakers and communities to access the latest scientific knowledge, standards, best practices, and resources on blue carbon projects. It will also partner with academic institutions, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and governments, said Amazon.
In the first year, the institute will focus on building tools to support the science-based restoration of blue carbon ecosystems, develop key guidance on blue carbon in Nationally Determined Contributions and expand the knowledge related to the climate value of seagrasses and kelp ecosystems.
Amazon will provide a grant of up to US$3 million (S$4.1 million) to establish and fund the institute's operations for the first three years.
"Singapore is excited to partner Conservation International on this momentous initiative, made possible with the support of Singapore's Economic Development Board, Amazon and other partners," said Ms Fu.
Conservation International will lead the institute.
"We look forward to working with like-minded partners to collectively advance global climate ambition and action to create a better climate future for future generations," Ms Fu added.