Mangroves for the Future  

Contributing to the 2030 Agenda for 
Sustainable Development Goals

Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based regional initiative which promotes investment in coastal ecosystem conservation for sustainable development. Co-chaired by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and UNDP, the programme focuses on the role that healthy, well-managed coastal ecosystems play in building the resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The MFF grants facility offers small, medium and large grants to support initiatives that provide practical, hands-on demonstrations of effective coastal management in action. MFF is funded by Danida, Norad, Sida and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Thailand.

All 17 Sustainable Development Goals are connected to MFF's strategic focus areas: coastal rehabilitation; livelihood support; and resilience-building and empowerment, with climate change and gender as key cross-cutting issues. 

SDGs Number 1 on poverty, Number 5 on gender, Number 14 on ocean resources and increasingly Number 17 on global partnerships are particularly central to MFF's current work and long-term plans.

Breaking the Poverty Cycle 

Fishing at sunset in the Sundarbans, West Bengal, India © Pradeep Vyas

In terms of SDG Goal 1 'End poverty in all its forms everywhere', MFF focuses on promoting livelihood activities that are environmentally sound, economically realistic and sustainable. The programme develops models to guide livelihood restoration in post disaster situations, encourage replicable community-led ecotourism activities, restore fisheries in tsunami affected areas and help market non-fish mangrove products.

In Indonesia, mangrove degradation in Kraksaan sub-district is attributed to the large scale conversion of mangrove land into shrimp or salt ponds. Such activities - which result in the erosion of embankments and the decline in fish population  - threaten the livelihood of communities who rely on selling fish. 

Through the MFF Small Grant Facility project, women from three villages in Kraksan received training on mangrove and fish-based food processing as part of an initiative to strengthen the overall communities' resilience to environmental change.

"I now have an alternative income source as I can sell the mangrove leaves that I collect to people who wish to use it to make tea."  - Tutik Sumarti, Indonesian project beneficiary 

Ensuring Equity and Equality for All

A young community member in Phang Nga Province at Moo Koh Surin National Park,Thailand © Ana Grillo/MFF Thailand

SDG Goal 5 'Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls' is well-aligned with IUCN’s gender policy which calls for the promotion of equity and equality as a crucial factor for environmental sustainability and an integral part of all conservation efforts. 55 (31%) of  MFF's 177 Small Grants Facility projects implemented from 2010-2015 had a gender component and were designed and implemented to meet the gender needs and interests of both women and men. More than 80% of these gender-responsive projects resulted in a visible increase in women’s income, including providing education and skills development to women and their families. This trend is continuing in 2016 with MFF’s Cycle 5 projects.

In Bangladesh, the women of Kultoli village in Shyamnagar are responsible for collecting freshwater for the family, spending up to two hours a day walking three kilometers to the nearest clean water source.  Today, thanks to an MFF project that re-excavated ponds and built reservoirs closer to their homes, the women now only need half an hour a day to collect water. This has increased their discretionary time to over two and a half hours a day which they now dedicate to other activities that benefit themselves and their families. Closer access to water sources has also reduced the risk to personal security that women and children used to face. 

"With increasing capacity for monitoring gender impacts and women's empowerment, MFF projects are increasingly able to demonstrate their responsiveness to context-specific gender needs and interests, and to make contributions towards closing the gender gap by improving women’s access to and control over resources." - Maeve Nightingale, gender focal point for IUCN Asia and MFF

In Viet Nam, an MFF project that aimed to develop and integrate a co-management model in the Xuan Thuy National Park management system for the protection of mangroves empowered over 500 women in policy making processes. The project also enhanced the women's awareness on the importance of mangrove ecosystems and sustainable fishing methods. Through the Local Initiative Fund (LIF), the women also received financial support to expand their small-scale level livelihood activities. 

Using Ocean Resources Sustainably

Morning catch, Ban Mod Ta Noi, Trang, Thailand © MFF Thailand/Siriporn Sriaram

MFF is also a driving force behind SDG Goal 14 'Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development', by influencing policy and encouraging local communities to adopt best practices in effective and responsible coastal management. 

In Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand, an MFF regional project contributed to better multi-stakeholder engagement in natural resource governance. The project supported ongoing efforts to decentralise environmental management and enhance public participation in coastal resource management decision-making. This has resulted in the involved countries developing reports on natural resource governance frameworks to influence national policy, as well as a draft resource toolkit for community involvement in natural resource governance in small islands. 

Revitalising Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Speakers at a Blue Economy Consultation session in Bangkok, Thailand © Yus Rusila Noor

Increasingly, as a key component of its sustainability strategy, MFF touches on SDG 17 'Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development'. 

"MFF’s governance structure brings government, civil society and private sector together to take action at the national level, and cooperate at the regional level to contribute to the conservation of coastal areas.The programme's unique partnership of diverse stakeholders across countries facilitates knowledge sharing and provides opportunities for transboundary cooperation. " - Dr. Steen Christensen, MFF Coordinator

A project in Thailand utilised a local multi-stakeholder participation process to develop local coastal ecosystem management plans for 23 villages - ensuring its integration and support at district and provincial levels.  

As coordination among multi-stakeholder groups was strengthened, tension between local communities and national agencies was reduced.  The project also facilitated the uptake of ecosystem-based coastal resource management concepts into the local development plan. 

IUCN and MFF presenting at a PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Academy Workshop on ecotourism in Thailand © Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)

As part of its sustainability strategy, MFF aims to ramp up its private sector engagement efforts which currently includes partnerships with Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Thai Union Group. 

MFF's partnership with Marriott aims to protect the environment and support Thailand's local communities through mangrove restoration, the use of sustainable seafood sources and local procurement practices. Among other achievements, the collaboration has since restored an area of approximately 26 rai by planting 20,000 trees in four strategic mangrove restoration sites in Thailand in collaboration with local communities and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), as well as invested 2,972 volunteer hours by Marriott associates and guests.

Moving forward, MFF is working towards helping companies to assess and mitigate their impacts, connect with their supply chain and ensure sustainable sourcing for their businesses, connect with local communities and optimise return on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investment, explore new green products and services which can benefit coastal communities and adopt sustainable practices. 

To celebrate International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem on July 26, Mangroves for the Future (MFF) has released this multimedia story showcasing its achievements and efforts across 11 countries towards achieving the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are part of the 2030 Agenda - a new global framework - to help eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030.

Local boys play in mangrove plantations close to their home in Thailand © Sayan Chenudomsauad