Feature Story

They call them ‘blue forests’—and they are among the most productive and valuable habitats on Earth.

Mangroves might not look like much to some, but these humble salt-loving species are vital to coastal ecosystems and communities the world over. They are a crucial breeding habitat for aquatic wildlife—with some 75 percent of commercially fished species either spending part of their life cycle in mangrove ecosystems or depending on the habitat for food. They also protect the coasts themselves, with their dense root systems acting as natural buffers against storm surges.

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Trials carried out by the GEF-funded Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project explored the use of electronic monitoring systems to increase transparency

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The Mexican city of Xalapa is surrounded by ecosystems that not only harbor stunning flora and fauna, but also provide crucial services to the city and its 580,000 people.

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For many people, retirement is a chance to take a break. Not so for Victorin Laboudallon, a grandfather from the Seychelles who spends his days planting forests to fight climate change.

Wherever there’s a forest fire in the Seychelles, you can be sure you’ll find Laboudallon ready to fight back, armed with seeds and shovels.

“Protecting nature makes me very happy in life,” says Laboudallon. “We need to protect it as much as we can, so other generations can enjoy it like I did when I was a kid.”

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Our future depends on a clean and healthy ocean, where protection and sustainable use go hand in hand. The ocean is under threat from the effects of climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity and unsustainable use.

To respond we need to build partnerships between government, industry, science and civil society, putting knowledge, technology and finance into action. 

In Seychelles they're doing just that: financing ocean protection.

Thinking blue

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Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have pockets of food insecurity. These can appear and develop for many reasons. And in some cases, simple nature-based solutions can make a significant difference to people’s lives.

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The world faces huge and unprecedented biodiversity and climate change challenges. One way we can help address these challenges is through the restoration of degraded land.

Restoring landscapes—done properly in consultation with local communities, governments and scientists—has huge environmental, climate mitigation but also, importantly, economic benefits. It also contributes to many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Azerbaijan, nestled in the cradle of Europe and Asia, has always occupied a prime location on the trade routes linking East and West.

In the days of the Silk Road, craftsmen and merchants would trade goods such as fabrics and carpets and other technological innovations in caravanserais. 

Today cities such as the country’s capital, Baku, are re-emerging as exciting trade hubs, perfect settings for the entrepreneurial talents of modern-day merchants such as two sets of brothers, the Nakhjavanis and the Eromis.

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As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize showcases their efforts by honouring them on an international stage.

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