Risks posed to ocean health drive investment in blue economy

The Blue Economy, defined by the World Bank Group as the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth and improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of marine and coastal ecosystem, represents global economy activity estimated between USD 3 to USD 6 million per year.

Issues with ocean health which affect human activities, food sources and marine biodiversity have inspired a renewed push by actors to invest in the Blue Economy.

Creative ways of financing, including the World Bank launching a sustainable development bond to address ocean plastic pollution, are emerging worldwide. Other established sources of investment have turned their focus to ocean health. The Asian Development Bank recently committed up to USD 5 billion for 2019-2024 under a new action plan for healthier oceans and sustainable blue economies. Rockefeller Capital, which manages over USD 13 billion, has created a portfolio dedicated to ocean investment.

“Two-thirds of the planet is finally getting the desperate attention it deserves,” said Kristian Teleki, director of the Sustainable Ocean Initiative at the World Resources Institute.

Solutions are often propulsed by governments committed to investing in their blue economy and ensuring the health of their citizens, and their marine areas. These include more restrictions on shipping regulations, stricter emissions standards, additional marine protected areas and national renewable energy targets, especially in offshore wind energy.

Other times, private actors and investors get ahead of regulatory mandates or existing legislation to push ocean protection or new investment further. “There are companies that are positioned to perform well when governments, investors and other entities take meaningful action to combat climate change, and I think we’re starting to see that,”says Rockefeller Capital Management’s Rolando Morillo. “You will get to the intersection where these companies become much more widely viewed as opportunities, rather than as a niche.”

As further opportunities in wide areas arise, encompassing investments in green ports and shipping, offshore wind, water and wastewater management, conservation and ecotourism, and waste management and recycling, more dialogue between the finance community and civil society or public entities specialised in ocean health and management is essential.

“We need more people that speak ocean finance, says Kristian Teleki, director of the Sustainable Ocean Initiative at the World Resources Institute. “It’s about really identifying those solutions and matching up the finance with those solutions and looking at those business models.”

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