Eight nations, including India, around the Bay of Bengal were brought together on Monday to develop and agreed programme for ocean governance with a tranche of multi-million dollars through financial institution Global Environment Facility (GEF) to tackle unsustainable fisheries.
This will help conserving a region rich in marine resources on which some 450 million people depend.
The 'Sustainable Management of the Bay of Bengal large Marine Ecosystem Programme', with funding through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will address the three major pressures facing shared ocean ecosystems - unsustainable fishing, pollution and the destruction of habitat, while improving livelihoods and increasing resilience.
The other beneficiaries other than India are Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri lanka, Myanmar, Maldives, Malaysia and Thailand.
They will get funds to the tune of $179,266,055 for the programme, a GEF secretariat spokesperson told IANS.
This programme got approval from the 54th GEF Council meeting here.
Meanwhile, for small island developing states often rely for freshwater on shallow coastal aquifers that are recharged by rainfall, but are vulnerable to the impacts of land use and climate change, an UNDP/GEF project will improve their use, management and protection in Palau, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, so as to increase water security.
Meanwhile, a WWF/GEF project will represent the first joint attempt by India and Bhutan to address a growing common risk to the extremely rich biodiversity of the Manas River basin which straddles the border between the two countries, as well as to lives, livelihoods, food, security, property and infrastructure.
It will enhance resilience to climate change and increase the sustainability of ecosystems through improving trans-boundary cooperation on integrated, ecosystem-based management of the river basin.
The 54th Council meeting also approved a project to help local communities in Africa to preserve their tropical rainforests.
The other projects include the world's second smallest nation Nauru -- whose population is 10,000 -- will be assisted in switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy and 13 governments will be supported in preparing reports on the progress they are making to combat climate change.
They are included in the GEF's latest work program, the final one under its sixth replenishment (GEF-6), which will cost $64 million, but is expected to mobilise an additional $300 million in co-financing ($5.2 for every dollar the GEF provides).
Thirty-three countries around the world will benefit.
Presenting the programme to the Council, GEF's Director of Programmes Gustavo Fonseca said "while the work programme is comparably smaller, given it occurs at the end of the four-year financial cycle, its significance resides on the great emphasis placed on the most vulnerable nations, including 14 least developed countries and 10 small island developing states".
The GEF, established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle planet's most pressing environmental problems, has provided $17.9 billion in grants and mobilised an additional $93.2 billion in financing for more than 4,500 projects in 170 countries.
(Vishal Gulati is in Da Nang for the Internews' Earth Journalism Network Biodiversity Fellowship Programme at the Sixth Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly. He can be reached at [email protected])