What is the Coastal 500?
The Coastal 500 is the largest global network of mayors and local government leaders committed to working towards thriving and prosperous coastal communities. They are united in recovering and sustaining coastal seas and sharing best practices and key lessons worldwide. The network aims to help all members achieve sustainable fisheries that build community prosperity, while safeguarding the environment.
Who is a part of the Coastal 500?
The Coastal 500 is comprised of mayors and other local government leaders from countries across the developing tropics. Members hail from the Philippines, Indonesia, Mozambique, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.
What are its goals?
The Coastal 500 aims to dramatically change the way communities protect their coastal waters and influence the way entire nations and regions manage their fisheries. The network will establish global leadership for small-scale fisheries and will work together to influence stakeholders in the fisheries sector that leads to positive shifts in public opinion, political will, and government policies. It will also serve as a valuable platform for peer-to-peer learning, technical and network support, and advocacy development for coastal leaders from all over the world.
Collective action and leadership serve as a motivating force for effective change. The goal is to have 500 mayors and other local government leaders as members, representing a constituency of one million fishers, all aligned around a shared vision and collective advocacy.
Why is it needed?
The livelihoods of approximately 200 million people worldwide are directly or indirectly tied to coastal fisheries, located in the thin band of ocean, 12km from shore. This area is also home to most of the ocean’s biodiversity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one in five people globally depend on fish for a significant part of their animal protein. At the same time, in many of the least developed countries of Africa and Asia, that number is closer to 50%.
However, the ocean is under enormous pressure. Climate change, overfishing, pollution, and other human activity is leading to warming ocean temperatures and acidification, which is in turn leading to biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, shifting migratory patterns, and other challenges that directly impact the long-term viability of coastal fisheries. The pressure has only increased with the global COVID-19 pandemic. With supply chains severed, local fishers became the backstop to food security and jobs.
Right now, governments, NGOs, and foundations are planning a “green recovery” of sustainable jobs to replace those lost to the pandemic. Ocean advocates are also pushing for a “blue recovery” that restores ocean health. The Coastal 500 will help ensure that small-scale fisheries and the network of microenterprises they support are fully recognized as the foundation of the rural economy. A sustained recovery will be built through thriving rural communities that balance production with environmental protection.
What will the Coastal 500 do?
Members of the Coastal 500 have committed themselves to key principles for supporting healthy and sustainable fisheries. Each member of the Coastal 500 takes an identical public pledge to build healthy, prosperous, and sustainable coastal communities through activities focused on:
- Promoting responsible fisher behaviors that include registration, catch monitoring, participating in management, and adhering to regulations;
- Recognizing, prioritizing, and advocating for local communities in their access to and use of coastal fisheries;
- Building an empowered and informed community through participatory fisheries management that fairly and equitably regulates effort and employs an accountable and transparent decision-making process;
- Endorsing no-take reserves to replenish and sustain fish populations by protecting coastal habitats like coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds;
- Investing in strengthening human capacity and financial resources to sustain community-based fisheries management;
- Continuing learning, teaching, and inspiring others by sharing lessons and experiences from my community with leaders from across the country and worldwide.
Members are also committed to achieving these pledges by taking specific programmatic action, securing policy commitments, and mobilizing financial allocations for coastal fisheries, as reflected in the Coastal 500 Action Guidebook.
Who is supporting the Coastal 500?
Rare is the main convener and secretariat of the Coastal 500. Rare is an international NGO, headquartered just outside Washington, DC, USA, and the global leader in driving social change to help people and nature thrive. With a people-centered approach rooted in behavioral science and design thinking, Rare partners with local leaders and their communities to identify and break down barriers to adopting sustainable environmental practices and make change easier to adopt.
Rare’s Fish Forever program is a community-led solution to revitalizing coastal marine habitats, such as coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses, preventing coastal overfishing and securing the livelihoods of small-scale fishers, their households, and their communities. Fish Forever has engaged over 1,000 communities in 8 countries and has helped or is in the process of helping place nearly 4 million hectares of coastal ocean water under sustainable management.
Rare is a partner in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative to protect and restore the world’s ocean by promoting ocean conservation, protecting resilient coral reef habitats, and reducing the practice of harmful and illegal overfishing. Bloomberg Philanthropies is also a leader in championing mayors and local leaders on the front lines of challenges through initiatives like C40 and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
When does the Coastal 500 officially launch?
The Coastal 500 will officially launch on June 8, 2021 (World Oceans Day), with an event to be attended by mayors and local leaders worldwide. Gregor Robertson, Global Ambassador of the Global Covenant of Mayors and the former mayor of Vancouver, Canada, will deliver a keynote address. Other speakers include Antha Williams, head of the Bloomberg Philanthropies environment program, and Dr. Christiane Paulus, Director General of Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMU). While the network doesn’t officially launch until June 8, over 100 mayors and local government leaders have already pledged to protect and advocate for coastal communities.
The pressures of COVID-19 and climate change demand immediate action. But global conversations about ocean conservation are also reaching a critical juncture. The United Nations has declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA), and “aims to focus world attention on the role that small-scale fisheries, fish farmers and fish workers play in food security and nutrition, poverty eradication and sustainable natural resource use – thereby increasing global understanding and action to support them.”
The work of the Coastal 500 also aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), and SDG 14 (Life Below Water).