Towards a Healthier Ocean: Contributions from the Pacific Ocean Finance Fellowship Program

Towards a Healthier Ocean: Contributions from the Pacific Ocean Finance Fellowship Program

pacific ocean finance fellowship group
The 2019 Pacific Ocean Finance Fellows, mentor team, and FFA and OPOC representatives. Photo credit: Tanoa Hotel

The Pacific Ocean Finance Fellowship Program (POFP) held its second training workshop in November in Nadi, Fiji. The twelve participating Fellows met with and heard from many local and international experts on ocean finance over the five-day event. They also had the opportunity to discuss their projects with one another, lead small discussion groups, meet with their project mentors, and practice presenting their work. After the workshop, the Fellows attended and presented their projects at the Pacific Ocean Finance Conference.

pacific ocean finance fellowship
POFP Fellows Alissa Takesy (FSM) and Martin Pine (Kiribati) engaged in discussion. Photo credit: Natalia Sanín

The POFP Fellows already have deep knowledge about ocean issues in their own countries and sectors, and this fellowship program is helping them learn and apply finance solutions in practical ways. The second Fellowship workshop was a reaffirmation of the Fellows’ commitment to improving ocean health and governance in their countries. The workshop focused on themes related to the Fellows’ projects, including regional ocean agreements, national financial planning, tourism economics, community finance, marine conservation agreements, fisheries management, and business entrepreneurship. Fellows appreciated having peers from diverse backgrounds to help tackle their project challenges and give guidance on project implementation.  The workshop also provided a safe space to share experiences with and expectations of regional management of ocean resources and seascapes. 

pacific ocean finance fellowship
Fellows Mary MacDonald (Cook Islands) and Emma Kabua-Tibon (RMI) during the workshop graduation ceremony. Photo credit: Natalia Sanín

“The most relevant, efficient and effective way to articulate and communicate the finance option initiatives that are available around the region.  Views and ideas shared among the fellows are an enormous help.” – Fa’aui Ekapali-Telii, Tuvalu

During the Pacific Ocean Finance Conference the following week, the Fellows presented their projects to an international audience and described their efforts to gather and analyze useful information to complement their personal and institutional efforts to improve the state of the oceans.  It became clear that the Fellows’ projects are already contributing to national and regional efforts to improve ocean health and governance. This impact is profoundly important because the Ocean represents much more than a source of resources to Pacific Islanders. The ocean is their pride, their community bond, their spiritual and ancestral connection with creation, their survival, and their responsibility.

“Despite the fact that the fellowship program will end soon, I know my project will continue on and have a positive impact on my work and the communities that I serve.”  – Emma Kabua-Tibon, Republic of the Marshall Islands


pacific ocean finance fellowship
Horses ride along the crystal waters in Fiji. Photo credit: Kim Bonine

CSF Fellowship Coordinator Natalia Sanín reflected on her time in Fiji, “I think that the fellows have been redefining the narrative on ocean health and governance in the Pacific. And now they know what they need to do to achieve their project goals. I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of this program and to have met and worked with the POFFP Fellows, mentors, and the FFA team.” 

During the upcoming months, the Fellows will be working on their projects, conducting research, meeting with communities and stakeholders, and gathering and analyzing information with the goal of finalizing their projects in late February. Stay tuned for information about results presentations via webinar in March or April. 

For more on this program, you can read about the first workshop in the Solomon Islands, the program overview, and the Fellows’ bios


This fellowship program is part of the Pacific Ocean Finance Program (POFP), which is Component 3 of the Pacific Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP) funded by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility and is being implemented through the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC) in partnership with Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), the Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).