To tackle climate change we must strengthen the resilience of our coastal communities

By Rocky Sanchez Tirona | November 5, 2021

Rocky Sanchez Tirona is the Managing Director of Fish Forever at Rare, global leader in reducing coastal overfishing and revitalizing coastal fisheries. Here is her contribution to the Our World in Your Hands series.

Dear world leaders,

Climate action and ocean action are intricately linked. Millions of people worldwide – particularly those in coastal communities – depend on the ocean for food and their livelihoods, and have all experienced the disproportionate impacts of climate change firsthand. Bringing together those local voices for a common vision has the potential to collaboratively address global challenges critical to them, like climate change, and that face our coastal seas and the diverse communities and cultures that depend on them.

I am writing you today to reiterate that collective action and leadership serve as a motivating force for effective change. To that end, I am pleased to share that there is an emerging  global Network of mayors and local government leaders, called the Coastal 500, who have all pledged to work towards thriving and prosperous coastal communities.

I recognize the great influence you have on the global stage, and encourage you to use it to strengthen your own climate actions and ambitions at home while motivating and encouraging others to do the same at the international and local level. This is especially true for ocean-climate action by which reducing GHG emissions is the best way to protect the ocean and safeguard our food security for those reliant on fisheries for nutrition. Ocean-climate action is fundamental at the local level as an adaptation measure that improves local livelihoods, economic stability, health, and overall climate resilience.

Like you, I  recognize the need for and value of collaborative and innovative approaches to addressing climate change. Change requires more than individual action, it needs collective and cooperative action. In small-scale fisheries, that means recognizing that protecting biodiversity and increasing economic productivity are not mutually exclusive. By combining local efforts to protect critical habitat with effective co-management for coastal fisheries, we can ensure food security, support the productive economy, safeguard livelihoods, and contribute to achieving national and global sustainable development and climate change goals.

I am looking forward to the UNFCCC COP26 and am anxious, yet hopeful, to see ambitious commitments towards reducing carbon emissions as well as increasing financial support for climate action – especially ocean climate action at the local level.

Beyond the UNFCCC, the UN Convention of Biological Diversity’s upcoming Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the 2022 International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) are also important milestones that I hope you will consider meaningfully engaging in with organizations like Rare and networks like the Coastal 500.

I appreciate the role and influence of national government leaders and encourage further consideration of bringing local governments to join you and significantly participate in the international climate discussions. On behalf of myself, the Coastal 500 network, and all of our families, I urge and invite you and other local government leaders to commit to finding ways to strengthen the resilience of our coastal communities, in recognition of the vital role that small scale fisheries play around the world in addressing and responding to climate change and other global challenges.


Rocky Sanchez Tirona
Managing Director, Fish Forever, Rare

This letter is presented by Rocky Sanchez Tirona on behalf of Coastal 500, a global initiative supported by Rare and  the largest network of mayors and local government leaders committed to work towards thriving and prosperous coastal communities.

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