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Pioneering framework for sustainable ocean finance launched at Our Ocean global summit

This week has seen the launch of the world’s first global framework to finance a sustainable ocean economy at the Our Ocean conference.

The Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles were developed by the European Commission, WWF, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Started as a commitment by a dozen financial institutions and key stakeholders just a year ago, they are now set to become the gold standard to invest in the ocean economy—the “blue economy”—in a sustainable way.

By engaging investors, insurers and banks, the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles are set to bring sustainability into the boardrooms of all ocean-based industries, from shipping, fisheries and tourism, to aquaculture, energy and biotechnology.

To put the principles into practice, an IT-based tool is being developed to help investment managers assess whether their investment decisions are verifiably sustainable.

The organisations behind the principles are convinced that this will show in practice how profitability can go hand-in-hand with environmental and social stewardship, and how UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” can be achieved.

Broad international endorsement

The Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles will become part of a new sustainable blue economy finance initiative under the auspices of the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), which joins the European Commission, WWF, WRI and the EIB as a founding partner. The initiative, anticipated for 2019, will receive initial support from the European Commission.

The principles are endorsed by the major international sustainable finance initiatives, including UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) and the World Bank.

A growing number of financial institutions and stakeholders have already endorsed the initiative, 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
  • 8F Asset Management.

With the new UN Environment-hosted sustainable blue economy finance initiative planned for 2019, it is expected that many more institutions will come on board.

According to Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International,without the valuable guidance that the principles provide, there is a real risk that poorly-directed investments could lead to unsustainable marine and coastal development, further eroding the health of ocean ecosystems.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, said:

“Through our long-standing work with banks, insurers and investors, UN Environment has delivered landmark global frameworks and initiatives to finance a resilient, inclusive and sustainable global economy. These include the Principles for Responsible Investment in 2006, the Principles for Sustainable Insurance in 2012, and now the upcoming Principles for Responsible Banking, which will be finalised next year.

“Amid intensifying threats to the ocean, from unsustainable fishing and plastic pollution, to coral reef destruction and ocean acidification, this collaborative initiative to finance a sustainable blue economy is not only timely and complementary—it is absolutely urgent and necessary.”

Jonathan Taylor, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, said the European Investment Bank has been taking the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles forward to drive investment in this key sector, together with its partners. The EIB would continue to mobilise private capital towards the sustainable blue economy, which is critical to secure the livelihoods of over three billion people.

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