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Crédits Victor Bonito (L) at rope nursery in Korolevu-i-Wai District, Fiji. Photo: Reef Explorer Fiji
Publié sur juin 11, 2024

Namada’s Armada: Protecting Fiji’s Coral Coast in partnership with the community in Namada village


Victor Bonito is a coral reef ecologist and founder of Reef Explorer, a Fiji-based research and development company established to support community-based marine conservation efforts in Fiji. 

“Since 2005, I have been working hand-in-hand with the Vanua Davutukia (the native resource owners of the district) to better manage and restore marine resources in their traditional fishing ground. I think it is important that we all remember that we are custodians of natural resources for the generations to come – we must act with them and their future in mind.”

 

Victor Bonito and team as part of coral restoration capacity building. Photo: Reef Explorer Fiji
Victor Bonito and team as part of coral restoration capacity building. Photo: Reef Explorer Fiji

 

Love from the Coral Coast

Active in coral reef research and conservation efforts around the world for over 22 years, Victor has a broad knowledge of coral reef ecosystems and a wealth of experience working with a broad spectrum of stakeholders on resource management issues.

 

Hand in hand

Working to protect the Coral Coast’s spectacular reef ecosystem, Victor knows that the future depends on a clean and healthy ocean, where protection and sustainable use go hand in hand.

 

Thriving coral in Fiji. Photo: Tom Vierus/Coral Reef Image Bank
Thriving coral in Fiji. Photo: Tom Vierus/Coral Reef Image Bank

 

Blue Investment

Through the Investing in Coral Reefs and the Blue Economy (ICRBE) programme, funded by the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and the Joint SDG Fund, support is being channelled to the district of Korolevu-i-wai.

The programme supports the customary fishing rights owners for the Korolevu-i-Wai/Koro-i-Nasau qoliqoli (community) to operate coral-reef-associated ecotourism attractions and activities to generate revenue to support the effective management, conservation, and sustainable use of the Korolevu-i-wai/Koro-i-Nasau Locally Managed Marine Area (KiW/KiN LMMA), as well as help support the communal development needs of the community while also offering them economic opportunities.

Namada, where Victor lives and works, is one of four traditional villages in the Korolevu-i-Wai District that will benefit from the programme’s interventions.

 

Viti Levu, Fiji. Photo: Ocean Image Bank
Viti Levu, Fiji. Photo: Ocean Image Bank

 

Collective Action for the Ocean

Launched in early 2021, the ICRBE's joint programme leverages philanthropic and development finance to mobilize commercial investments, promote the financial sustainability of coral reef conservation, and accelerate reef-positive livelihoods.

Representing the best of collective action for the ocean, the programme is working to leverage US$50M in investment capital by 2030.

This joint programme is a collaboration with partners that include UN agencies (UNDP, UNCDF, UNEP), Matanataki, Blue Finance, Fijian local actors, and the Government of Fiji.

The ocean connects, sustains, and supports us all.

Yet its health is at a tipping point and so is the well-being of all that depends on it.

As the past years have shown us, we need to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.

 

Namada Desiderata

In Namada, the ICRBE project accomplishments will be measured by real-world improvements to coral reefs and marine environments; these achievements are buoyed by a series of terrestrial financial innovations.

“As a coral ecologist and conservation practitioner, celebrating, protecting, and restoring Fiji’s marine resources are all part of my daily activities. The coral reef and surrounding environment is the backbone of our local economy where I live on the Coral Coast, and is also critical to the food security of our local community.” - Victor Bonito 

 

Partnerships for coral

For Orisi Seniucudromo, the ICRBE programme is more than a financial abstraction.

As he approaches 50 years of residence in Namada village, his parents and children are just part of the extended familial relationship he has with the region and its environment.

“I often tell the villages and everyone I talk to that humans are part of the ecosystem and as such we should treat plants and animal species as part of our family. It’s bringing the relationship of people and the environment to this perspective that really convinces a lot of people in my opinion and experience”.

 

Orisi Seniucudromo walking on the coast near namada village. Photo: UNDP Pacific Office
Orisi Seniucudromo walking on the coast near namada village. Photo: UNDP Pacific Office

 

Orisi's commitment to the community and its environment is carried out through work for local NGOs and the area’s committee of elders.

Marine conservation efforts have been ongoing in the Korolevu-i-wai district since 2002. Orisi reflects on how they continue to generate tangible results for the community:

“with the Marine Protected Areas in place and the conservation efforts over the years, we have seen the coral reef growing healthy again and there is plentiful of fish available in the sea and for consumption”.

 

Orisi (R) and his 5-year old son, Semesa Francis Seniucidromo. Photo: UNDP Pacific Office
Orisi (R) and his 5-year old son, Semesa Francis Seniucidromo. Photo: UNDP Pacific Office

 

Working to amplify and support these efforts, the ICRBE programme aims to provide finance to help unlock additional revenue from ecotourism.

For Orisi, these efforts are not solely about restoring previous damage to reefs and marine ecosystems, they are a means of being a good ancestor:

“We need to always have our next generation at the back of our mind when we do developments and in our normal daily life when interacting with our ecosystem”.

For more information on the project, visit here.

For more information on UNDP Pacific Office, visit here.

 

Footnotes

Text by: Andrea Egan, Vatimosi Delailovu, and Vineil Narayan. Header photo: Victor Bonito (L) Photo: Reef Explorer Fiji

 

Originally published by UNDP Nature.

 

Note:

All joint programs of the Joint SDG Fund are led by UN Resident Coordinators and implemented by the agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations development system. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.