Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme

Enabling safe and sustainable marine economies across Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme was announced by the British Prime Minister in 2015 to help the most vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) make the most of their natural maritime advantages, to enable sustainable economic growth and alleviate poverty.

The CME Programme is unique in its aim: by providing valuable data SIDS are unable to access themselves, UK scientists can unlock the marine potential shared by a large number of hard-to-reach Commonwealth countries to support their longer-term prosperity and their international maritime obligations.

By ensuring the marine resources that belong to Commonwealth SIDS are better understood and managed, the CME Programme can preserve their marine environments and harness their economic resources to support sustainable and growing marine economies in Commonwealth SIDS that create jobs, reduce poverty, ensure food security and build resilience.

In addition to meeting the UK’s commitment to supporting SIDS, CME Programme is helping deliver global commitments to the Commonwealth, the marine environment and efforts to tackle climate change, including UN sustainable development goal 14 and the Paris Climate Change Accord. The CME Programme helps SIDS to meet international maritime obligations, including respective elements of the Implementation of IMO Instruments Code.

The CME Programme is being delivered on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) by a partnership of world-leading UK government marine expertise:

CME Programme


SIDS face a common set of threats and challenges due to their small size and populations, remoteness, narrow economic bases and high degree of vulnerability to external economic and environmental shocks. Also, for SIDS to increase trade and tourism, additional navigation charting may be required to attract more modern and bigger ships.

In addition to these challenges are the impacts of:

  • climate change
  • ocean acidification
  • extreme weather events
  • pollution
  • over-fishing
  • loss of habitats
  • lack of modern hydrographic data

These threaten the connectivity, subsistence livelihoods, commercial fishing and food supplies of SIDS. The populations of SIDS account for a tiny fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but are likely to be among the first to suffer the consequences of global warming. SIDS are home to communities experiencing high-levels of poverty.

Enabling sustainable blue growth and prosperity

Despite their size many Commonwealth SIDS are surrounded by considerable natural economic and environmental resources. However, due to their low level of economic development these countries have been unable to invest in surveying and researching these areas, leaving them at risk of missing out on major opportunities for economic development and job creation.

By providing the information and capacity building that Commonwealth SIDS need to manage and develop their marine economies, the CME Programme will deliver the UK’s commitment at the 2015 Commonwealth Summit to use UK capabilities to support Commonwealth SIDS in the sustainable use of their marine environment.

The CME Programme aims to ensure marine resources in Commonwealth SIDS are better understood and managed, with the aim of enabling sustainable, growing marine economies in Commonwealth SIDS that create jobs, drive national economic growth, reduce poverty, ensure food security and build resilience against external shocks.

Programme aims

By providing training, advice and support, as well as addressing economic and environmental needs, the CME Programme is designed to leave a lasting legacy of growing self-sufficiency in Commonwealth Small States for their marine research needs.

The CME Programme’s 3 key aims are to:

  • support sustainable economic growth and prosperity
  • increase maritime security and supply of resources
  • support marine resilience and capability for change

Programme projects

Priority projects for the CME Programme are underpinned by a range of marine capability in support of enabling safe and sustainable marine economies.

CME Programme activities across the Caribbean and Pacific focus on 6 core themes in year 3:

  1. Marine data collection for environmental resilience and safe and efficient trade, through extended marine and seabed survey, charting and mapping work across both regions
  2. Monitoring and risk assessment to increase climate change resilience
  3. Decreasing pollution and improving human health
  4. Sustainable fisheries development
  5. Natural capital assessment – understanding the value of the marine environment
  6. Infrastructure planning, development, training and knowledge exchange

For more information about Programme projects visit the relevant regional pages. These pages will be updated with project reports and outputs when these are completed.

SIDS in scope

17 states (including coastal states) are in scope from the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean regions. These countries fulfil the project criteria since they are Commonwealth SIDS and are eligible to receive Official Development Assistance, including:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Fiji
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Kiribati
  • Nauru
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu

Further information

For more information contact us at or follow us on Twitter.

Find out more about CME Programme partners:

A CME Programme fact sheet is available to download.

CME document highlighting progress for the first 2 years of the programme

Published 17 November 2016
Last updated 17 January 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated factsheet
  2. Added Antigua and Barbuda as a country in scope
  3. Added information about Year 2 of the programme
  4. First published.