No matter how far from the coast we live, our lives and the global economy depend on the planet’s oceans and seas. The Ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth covering more than 70 percent of its surface and home to its most diverse forms of life. The ocean provides food to more than a billion people, sustains millions of jobs and generates trillions of dollars in revenue. The oceans also regulate our climate, absorb heat, and organisms in the ocean produce one of the essential elements for life: oxygen.
And yet we are degrading the health of our oceans, and the life they support in ways that will impact not just the well-being of the planet and its people, but also its economies and financial systems. One-third of fish stocks are overfished. Yet one in three fish caught never makes it onto plates, either being discarded, or rotting before it can be eaten. Plastics and waste water are polluting our seas, while climate change and other impacts are wiping out many of the planet’s precious coral reefs and other habitats, with the loss of over half our coral reef and mangrove habitats globally over the last thirty years.
About 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually.Jambeck JR et al
The need for action to preserve marine ecosystems and ensure the sustainability of the economies that rely on our oceans and seas is immediate and growing. But where to start? Financial institutions have a key role to play in protecting and building the resilience of the ‘blue economy’. By considering lending and insurance practices that take into account the health of our oceans they can also preserve the life and economies that depend upon them. Financial institutions can also profit from investing in protecting these precious resources and promoting sustainable marine industries. Interest in this from the financial industry is growing, but for most financial institutions, regardless of focus, size or breadth, oceans and marine ecosystems are uncharted territory.
Fishing is the principal livelihood for over 200 million people and provides the main source of protein for more than a billion.WWF
To help raise awareness of the role that banks, insurers and investors can play in finding innovative solutions to support marine ecosystems and to provide a guiding framework for financing a viable ocean economy, the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles were developed and unveiled by the European Commission, WWF, the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit (the programme of which is now embedded into the World Resources Institute) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Building on the momentum of the Principles, the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative was launched at the Our Ocean conference held in Bali in October 2018. UNEP FI is now hosting the new platform which will bring together financial institutions who will work with scientists, corporates and civil society to raise awareness, share practices and develop tools to support the adoption of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles.
The annual economic value generated by the ocean is at least USD 2.5 trillion making it the world’s seventh largest economy.WWF 2015
We are calling on banks, insurers and investors including UNEP FI’s members but also beyond to join our Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative working group and start focusing the finance industry’s efforts to ensure a sustainable blue economy.
The initial phase of work includes building a community via webinars and at events to exchange ideas and deepen understanding of the potential to catalyse finance sector market practice.
A growing number of financial institutions and stakeholders have already endorsed the Sustainable Blue Economy Principles including Alimentos Ventures, Aloe Private Equity, Althelia Ecosphere, Bonafide Ltd., Boston Common Asset Management, Fishing Accelerator, Greenbackers Investment Capital, the International Capital Market Association, Investas – Association luxembourgeoise des investisseurs privés, Mermaid Investments, Ocean Assets Institute, the Ocean Data Alliance, Pure Salmon, The Nature Conservancy, Rockefeller Asset Management, SeaAhead, SKY – Ocean Rescue Fund and 8F Asset Management.
We invite your organisation to join the growing list of signatories and demonstrate your support for the development of a sustainable Blue Economy. We also look forward to welcoming you to our coalition of active members to advance the transition to a sustainable blue economy.
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This work is generously supported by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.