Development of national policy frameworks

The existence of robust policy frameworks facilitates the design and implementation of local and national blue carbon initiatives. These policies promote official government support and the foundation for institutional roles, and offer links with other national and international policies, mechanisms and strategies (such as NDCs, REDD+ and NAMAs). The policy building process starts with informal consultations with national authorities to map actors, gauge their interest and obtain their support. As these are national-scale constructs, strategic advice and facilitation of the process is important.

Of utmost importance is to garner the interest and support of national authorities in decision-making positions, as policy development is a government role and must not be imposed onto a country. The existence of other environmental, coastal-marine or climate change policies enables the alignment or incorporation of blue carbon policy notions within pre-existing policies. The availability and communication of sound science for the public is also important during policy development.

Our experience has been that an initial ‘socialization’ (supply, introduction and communication) of basic blue carbon information and principles is needed through formal and informal meetings with country officials at multiple levels of decision-making. Then, a clear understanding of current country needs and priorities, and how they can be met through blue carbon actions, should be considered to ensure the process is compatible with on-going national processes and international climate change and conservation commitments. The role of the people facilitating the policy process is key to deliver sound information, to understand country needs, to ensure that the interests of different actors are met, to negotiate complex matters and to mediate conflicts that may arise. The pace at which governments respond to specific processes is not necessarily compatible with the short-term goals of local project development and implementation or international cooperation.