Niue’s pioneering efforts on ocean conservation recognised in the 2024 World Changing Ideas Awards


The tiny nation of Niue continues to step up on the world stage when it comes to protecting the ocean. The economy of Niue is firmly centred around the Ocean – from an important food source for locals, to tourism generated income it needed sustainable actions to protect it for future generations and has done just that, with the world taking notice.

Niue’s Ocean Conservation Commitments (OCCs) concept, has won the ‘Nature’ category of the Fast Company’s 2024 World Changing Ideas Awards this week and also received an honourable mention in the ‘Water’ category.

This year’s World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 50 winners, 127 finalists, and 172 honourable mentions. A panel of Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners from a pool of more than 1,300 entries across climate, social justice, wellness, politics, technology, corporate social responsibility, and more. The 2024 awards feature entries from across the globe.
OCCs is an innovative financing mechanism that helps fund the protection of 1 square kilometre of Niue’s ocean waters via sponsorship for up to 20 years, as well as leverage the development of Niue’s broader climate resilient natural environment and blue economy.

The OCC’s is managed by the Niue Ocean Wide (NOW) trust which is Niue’s first public-private partnership between the Government of Niue and local non-profit organisation Tofia Niue and manages the funds raised through the sponsorships that are $250 each. Sponsor Ocean Conservation Commitments – Niue Ocean Wide NOW. Sponsors receive a unique certificate of sponsorship that may also be gifted.
NOW Trust aims to establish an NZD $32 million (USD $18M) endowment, which will directly fund annual investment in ongoing robust conservation, resilience, and a sustainable blue economy and well on its way to that target with significant contributions from Conservation International, the Blue Nature Alliance and Oceans 5, as well as numerous individual sponsorships from 21 countries. $7.5 million dollars has been raised since its launch in New York in September last year.

Along with her brother Brendon Pasisi, the brainchild of this innovative project Coral Pasisi says, “this makes significant commitments to conservation, like Niue’s Moana Mahu – 127,000 square kms of pristine Pacific Ocean, a very valuable contribution by the small nation of Niue and her people, to the global environment.” Moana Mahu is 40% of Niue’s EEZ and is classed as a no take zone.

“Maintaining the protection of this large natural asset at the same time as fighting the impacts of climate change is not easy for a small country. That is why we developed the Ocean Conservation Commitments (OCCs)”
“This has been a joint effort but very much driven by local thought leaders and the community of Niue who have grown up in the ocean and continue to explore the best ways we can support its longevity, not just for our children but all children around the world,” says Coral.

Visitors to Niue enjoy ocean centric holidays with small private beaches, lagoons and swimming caves that are great for snorkelling. Add world class fishing, diving, and bucket list experiences like swimming with Niue’s resident Spinner Dolphins or Humpback Whales as they migrate to Niue in July to October annually to give birth and nurture their calves it is clear this Blue economy needs to stay in pristine order to also drive Tourism in Niue.
The introduction of the OCC’s means visitors can also contribute to protecting the experiences they have enjoyed while in Niue. As a school group from Auckland’s Rosmini College recently did by purchasing several OCC’s on their departure.

Other nations may want to follow suit in their own sustainability ambitions and follow the lead of this pioneering and ambitious Island.

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