Conserving biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem functions through a Ridge to Reef approach in the Cook Islands

Lead country

Cook Islands

Participating countries

Cook Islands

Project status

Under implementation

Implementing period

From July 6, 2015 to June 6, 2021

SDGs addressed by this project

SDG targets

  1. 14.7 Increase economic benefits of marine resources to SIDS
  2. 14.2 Sustainably manage, protect, restore marine, coastal ecosystems
  3. 15.5 Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction

Project ID: 5168

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Technical team

  • Ecosystems and Biodiversity Programme

Technical area(s)

  • Ecosystem management and restoration
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity


  • Agrobiodiversity
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Biodiversity financing
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation


  • Marine
  • Conserved areas
  • Human altered areas


  • Exclusive economic zone
  • Large marine ecosystem
  • Marine and coastal protected areas
  • Terrestrial protected areas
  • Rural areas

Transformed sector(s)

  • Tourism
  • Agriculture

UNDP role(s)

  • Capacity development / Technical assistance
  • Convening / Partnerships / Knowledge Sharing
  • Policy advice


  • Law regulation
  • Governance
  • Management operation


  • Laws/ Policy/ Plan formulation
  • Laws enforcement/ Regulation
  • Pollution control
  • Institutional framework
  • Inter-sectoral coordination
  • Adaptive governance
  • Conserved areas/ protected areas management
  • Integrated coastal zone management
  • Sustainable land management

Social inclusion

  • Private sector
  • Local community/CSOs
  • Women

Gender equality

  • Women decision making

Gender result effectiveness scale

  • Gender responsive


  • Systems pathway

Risk reduction target(s)

  • Improve resilience
  • Reduce exposure

SDG target(s)

  • 14.7 Increase economic benefits of marine resources to SIDS
  • 14.2 Sustainably manage, protect, restore marine, coastal ecosystems
  • 15.5 Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction

Conventions and protocols

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs)

Private sector(s)

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Individuals/Entrepreneurs

Hot topic

  • SIDS
  • Nature-based solution

About this project


In August 2012, the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Hon. Henry Puna, announced the creation of the Cook Islands Marine Park encompassing approximately 1.1 million square kilometres of the country's southern Exclusive Economic Zone (or more than 50% of its EEZ) at the opening ceremony of the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum. By creating the Park, the Government signalled its commitment to sustainable development and intention to balance economic growth interests in sectors such as such as tourism, fishing and agriculture, with biodiversity conservation objectives. This project will enhance the Cook Islands' capacities to effectively manage its protected area estate, focusing more specifically on the operationalization of the Marine Park and community conservation areas falling within it. The project will assist the government to tailor its policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks to suit the specific characteristics of this large marine protected area where protection and sustainable use will need to be carefully planned and zoned, with the recognition that tenure over most land areas is vested in local communities through a traditional tenure system. This project has been designed to engineer a paradigm shift in the management of marine and terrestrial PA sites from a site centric approach to a holistic ridge to reef management approach, whereby activities in the immediate production landscapes adjacent to marine and terrestrial protected areas will be managed to reduce threats to biodiversity stemming from key production activities (tourism and agriculture).


To build national and local capacities and actions to ensure effective conservation of biodiversity, food security and livelihoods and the enhancement of ecosystem functions within the Cook Islands Marine Park.

USD $4,417,431

Grant amount

USD $15,165,000

Leveraged amount (co-financing)


Source(s) of fund

Sources of fund


  • Global Environment Facility – Trust Fund ($4,417,431)

Implementing partner(s)

  • National Environment Service

Project metrics

Related resources

Geospatial information

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Project reports and documentation