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Harmful marine extractives: Offshore Oil & Gas

This briefing paper looks to the ocean, addressing the financial risks and environmental impacts associated with the exploration and production of offshore oil and gas. It takes into consideration the realm of environmental, financial, reputational, regulatory, operational and physical risks associated with these activities, and discusses how financial institutions should engage with and respond to this sector. 

Harmful marine extractives: Dredging & marine aggregate extraction

Dredging and marine aggregate extraction are highly damaging to seabed habitats but are needed for a number of sectors that can contribute to a sustainable blue economy. This briefing paper highlights financial, reputational and regulatory risks associated with dredging, setting out a pathway for positive change, and supporting a transition to more responsible practices.

Diving Deep: Finance, Ocean Pollution and Coastal Resilience

A science-based, actionable toolkit for banks, insurers and investors to align  decision-making with a sustainable blue economy. The Diving Deep Guidance helps financial institutions to break the pollution cycle, including plastics and other solid waste, and manage the impacts of coastal infrastructure projects such as seawalls, while exploring the potential of nature-based solutions including mangroves and reefs. Featuring inspirational photographs by Cristina Mittermeier.

Recommended Exclusions for Financing a Sustainable Blue Economy

Based on the market-first practical guidance for financial institutions, Turning the Tide, UNEP FI’s recommended exclusions list for a sustainable blue economy provides financial institutions with an overview of activities to exclude from financing due to their damaging impact on the ocean and high risk.

Turning the Tide: How to Finance a Sustainable Ocean Recovery

A practical guide for financial institutions to lead a sustainable ocean recovery This guidance is a market-first practical toolkit for financial institutions to pivot their activities towards financing a sustainable blue economy. Designed for banks, insurers and investors, the guidance outlines how to avoid and mitigate environmental and social risks and impacts, as well as…

The Rising Tide: Mapping Ocean Finance for a New Decade

The Rising Tide report maps the current state of ocean finance revealing trends in lending, underwriting and investment activities which impact the ocean. It reveals the frameworks and financial instruments that are successfully addressing ocean sustainability and highlights new opportunities and gaps in the market. It looks across five major ocean-linked sectors chosen for their established…

Unwrapping the risks of plastic pollution to the insurance industry

Plastic is an increasingly high-profile threat to our climate, ocean, wildlife and human health as it becomes widespread both in the ocean and on land, where it is impacting our ecosystems and threatening lives and human health. Plastics also make a direct contribution to climate change: their energy-intensive manufacture from fossil fuels, recycling and incineration…

Protecting our World Heritage, insuring a sustainable future

World Heritage Sites are recognised for their unparalleled beauty, global significance and/or biological diversity and the important economic, social and environmental benefits they provide to people. They are a source of inspiration and contribute to human well-being.  However, almost half of all natural World Heritage Sites across the globe are threatened by industrial activities and…


Including social equity considerations in investment decisions and processes is critical for the blue economy to deliver its full potential in addressing global challenges. In this episode, we look at the human dimension of the sustainable blue economy, focusing on the role of financial actors. Five experts from the academic, NGO and finance communities join the conversation, giving insights on how organisations can finance a blue economy that is sustainable, economically viable, and socially equitable.

Dennis Fritsch, Sustainable Blue Finance Lead at UNEP FI and Dorothee Herr, Oceans & Climate Change Manager at IUCN discuss ocean health, its role in regulating the global climate, its economic value and the role that financial institutions can play in restoring this vital ecosystem. In this compelling conversation, they also introduce us to UNEP FI’s Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles and IUCN’s Blue Natural Capital Financing Facility, helping financial institutions and project developers take part in a sustainable blue economy.


External Resources

Sustainable Blue Economy

Guidelines for Blue Finance
ICMA Group| 2022 | This document identifies eligible blue project categories to guide IFC’s investments to support the blue economy, in line with the Green Bond Principles and Green Loan Principles. The market has been seeking guidance on project eligibility criteria, translating general Blue Economy Financing Principles, such as the Sustainable Blue Economy Principles and the Sustainable Ocean
Principles, towards guidelines for blue bond issuances and blue lending

Financing Nature-based Solutions for Coastal Protection
IUCN NL & Wolfs Company| 2022 | This market study explores blended finance mechanisms with carbon credits for financing nature-based solutions projects. It reviews the financing landscape for nature-based solutions, the risks associated with setting up projects, and the relevant stakeholders that invest in projects with blended finance models, providing practical guidelines on how to develop a business model for nature-based coastal protection projects.

Blue Growth and Blue Justice
Bennet et al., UBCOceans| 2020 | This paper reviews past evidence of the social injustices that can result from ocean-based development and highlights 10 injustices that can be produced by blue growth. It concludes that a commitment to ‘blue justice’ – including recognitional, procedural, and distributional concerns – needs to be at the core of the blue growth agenda.

Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy
Bennet et al., Nature Sustainability| 2019 | The global rush to develop the ‘blue economy’ risks harming both the marine environment and human wellbeing. Bold policies and actions are urgently needed. This paper identifies five priorities to chart a course towards an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable blue economy.
Value at Risk
WWF| 2021 | This ground breaking research shows that a business-as-usual trajectory entails great risk to our economies, with a cost potentially reaching up to US$8.4 trillion over the next 15 years. But the ocean also has a great capacity to regenerate. If we take immediate action, we can reduce this damage to US$3.3 trillion. By repairing damage to the ocean, we revive one of the world’s greatest resources and one of the world’s largest carbon sinks.Blueprint for a Climate-Smart Ocean to Meet 1.5°C
United Nations Global Compact| 2021 |This Blueprint lays out six key steps to unlock a climate-smart ocean to meet 1.5°C, from innovative ocean management and human-centred policies, to harnessing blue finance and leveraging the ocean-climate nexus in political processes. The blueprint is the outcome of the UN Global Compact Blue Road to COP 26 multi-stakeholder workstream.Sovereign Blue Bonds: Quick Start Guide
ADB| 2021 | ADB published a comprehensive guide to developing green bonds that is also suitable for blue bonds. This quick start guide highlights frequently asked questions and provides a summarized look at pre-feasibility and first steps to develop a sovereign blue bond.Proposing a regulatory-driven blue finance mechanism for blue economy development
ADBInstitute | 2020 | This paper provides a conceptual understanding of the concept of blue finance and explores the potential of using legal and institutional mechanisms to increase investment in ocean development programs.Financing a sustainable ocean economy
Nature | 2021 | This paper identifies the key barriers to financing a sustainable ocean economy and suggests how to mitigate them, to incentivize the kind of public and private investments needed for topnotch science and management in support of a sustainable blue economy.Blueprint for a living planet: Four Principles for Integrated Ocean-Climate Strategies
WWF| 2021 | This report proposes four principles to guide integrated ocean and climate action to strengthen the mitigation, adaptation and resilience potential of marine and coastal ecosystems – and everything and everyone that depends on them. It offers practical guidance to countries and partners on how to effectively address ocean and climate ambition and action in a synergistic manner.The Second World Ocean Assessment
UN | 2021 | The Second World Ocean Assessment is the major output of the second cycle of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the States of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects. It is the newest outcome of the only integrated assessment of the world’s ocean at the global level covering environmental, economic and social aspects.Unpacking the UNFCCC Global Stocktake for Ocean-Climate Action
IUCN | 2021 | This paper provides a broader understanding of the crucial interlinkages of the whole ocean as part of the climate system and the role of ocean, coastal and marine Nature-based Solutions as part of The Global Stocktake set out by the Paris Agreement. It explores the Global Stocktake as an avenue for information and raising the ambition of countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions in relation to ocean ecosystems and climate change.New approach for a sustainable blue economy in the EU
EU | 2021 | The European Green Deal and the Recovery Plan for Europe will define the European economy for many years, or even decades. It is hence fundamental that the EU’s blue economy meets the EU’s environmental and climate objectives. To fully embed the blue economy into the Green Deal and the recovery strategy, the Commission has adopted a new approach for a sustainable blue economy, covering oceans, seas and coasts in the EU.Sustainability criteria for the blue economy
EU | 2021 | The need to develop and promote sustainable blue economy activities has become critical. It is necessary to develop a common understanding of the activities and practices that contribute to it at international level. This study is a contribution towards the establishment of such a common understanding by developing a set of criteria to assess the sustainability of blue economy activities.

Ocean Finance: Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Ocean Economy
High Level Panel for A Sustainable Ocean Economy | 2020 | Overview of the current ocean economy and the multiple stressors and how ocean finance can aid in changing this trajectory. Explains the barriers and opportunities in financing and how more investment is needed to transition to a sustainable ocean economy.

Unsustainable Finance in the Blue Economy: Where Does the Money Come From?
EU | 2020 | How to shift investment towards sustainable oceans this report includes insights and recommendations for policymakers and investors. Published by the European Commission, this is a must-read for investors dealing with the blue economy.

Investors and the Blue Economy
This high-impact research project measures investor interest in ocean-related investments, and opportunities around the sustainable Blue Economy. Surveying leading global investors on the ‘investability’ of ocean-related sectors, the research provides unique insight into the present and future state of investor action on SDG 14.

The EU Blue Economy Report 2020
European Commission | 2020 | The report highlights the need to preserve marine ecosystems to optimise potential benefits of ecosystem services and marine and maritime economic sectors.

The Ocean Finance Handbook
Friends of Ocean Action | 2020 | A guide that seeks to demystify the investment landscape of the sustainable blue economy.

A sustainable Ocean Economy in 2030: Opportunities and Challenges
The Economist Group | 2020 | In this report, The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative assesses the challenges facing key sectors in the ocean economy including seafood, shipping, tourism and renewable energy.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020
UN FAO | 2020 | This report provides technical insight and factual information on the fisheries & aquaculture sector, highlights major trends and emerging areas relevant to sustainable development.

Can Blue Bonds Finance a fish stock recovery?
Planet Tracker | 2020 | It is clear that ocean fishing is on an unsustainable course of rising demand and falling supply but could recover if the reset button is pushed. Restrictions on catch, along with a proper debt financing vehicle, would assist in creating a financially viable transition scenario to sustainable oceans. A blue bond provides a more profitable route than the business-as-usual scenario, over the long-term.


Fishing and Aquaculture

World review of capture fisheries and aquaculture insurance 2022
Anrooy, Córdova, Japp, Valderrama, Gopal Karmakar, Lengyel, Parappurathu, Upare, Tietze, Costelloe, Zhang | 2022 | This world review of capture fisheries and aquaculture insurance presents the findings of five regional and four national reports conducted in 2020. This review contains information on the capture fisheries and aquaculture insurance market, the prevailing underwriting practices, perils covered, policies in force, risk management and claim handling procedures. Additionally, it offers a series of recommendations for increasing insurance service provision to the fisheries and aquaculture industries.

Investor Memo: The case for seaweed investment in Europe
Secretariat of Seaweed for Europe | 2022 | This paper aims to: (i) demonstrate that there is a solid pipeline of innovative seaweed companies in Europe; (ii) help investors better understand the seaweed space in Europe and (iii) demonstrate that the seaweed industry in Europe has already attracted investment and is open to a range of investments. It addresses public and private investors regardless their experience level in the blue economy.

Leverage points in the financial sector for seafood sustainability<a
Jouffray; Crona; Wassénius; Bebbington and Scholtens | 2019 | This research paper explores how financial institutions can contribute to seafood sustainability. Given the projected growth of seafood markets and the magnitude of social and environmental challenges associated with seafood production, this topic is of increasing concern and importance.

Seafood Stewardship Index
World Benchmarking Alliance| 2021 | The Seafood Stewardship Index is publicly available and measures the world’s 30 most influence companies in the seafood industry on their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Index assesses companies across four measurements areas: Governance and Strategy, Ecosystems, Social Responsibility and Traceability and IUU.

Do you IUU?
Planet Tracker| 2021 | This report presents an actionable toolkit to asses to risk of actionable Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in investors’ portfolios.

Planet Tracker IUU Fishing Detection Toolkit
Planet Tracker| 2021 | To help investors assess the risk of IUU fishing by listed entities, Planet Tracker provides an IUU Detection Toolkit which allows investors to check for potential IUU red flags. The online interactive toolkit helps investors compute an IUU score for any listed fishing company.

Environmental performance of blue foods
Gephart et al., Nature | 2021 | Fish and other aquatic foods (blue foods) present an opportunity for more sustainable diets. Yet comprehensive comparison has been limited due to sparse inclusion of blue foods in environmental impact studies, relative to the vast diversity of production. This paper provides standardized estimates of greenhouse gas, nitrogen, phosphorus, freshwater and land stressors for species groups covering nearly three quarters of global production.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020
UN FAO | 2020 | This report provides technical insight and factual information on the fisheries & aquaculture sector, highlights major trends and emerging areas relevant to sustainable development.

Seafood and Fish Tracker Initiative
Planet Tracker’s Seafood Tracker Initiative investigates the impact that financial institutions have in financing global wild-catch fisheries and seafood trade. Includes insightful reports on blue bonds finance, global aquaculture market trends and innovative sustainable finance solutions.

Leverage points in the financial sector for seafood sustainability
Jouffray et al., Science Advances | 2019 | Can finance contribute to seafood sustainability? As more capital enters the seafood industry, this report identifies three leverage points to redirect capital toward more sustainable practices; loan covenants, stock exchange listing rules, and shareholder activism.

Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge
UNEP FI | 2019 | Cigarette butts are one of the largest contributors to ocean pollution, causing irreversible damage to ocean wildlife. Sign the pledge and join leading financial institutions to implement tobacco-free finance policies and encourage other institutions to follow suit.

Sustainable Seafood and Responsible Investment
Aviva Investors, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership & PRI | 2018 | Looking across both wild caught and farmed fish, this report looks at why investors in the seafood businesses need to consider sustainability issues.

Empty Nets – How overfishing risks leaving investors stranded
Fish Tracker Initiative | 2017 | Identifies 228 companies listed on the world’s stock markets with exposure to seafood production. This begins the process of linking overfishing with the companies’ revenue exposure and how they are managing key risks, such as overfishing.


Nature-based Solutions

Coastal Risk Index
AXA XL Ocean Risk Initative| 2021 | The Coastal Risk Index (CRI) provides an innovative, interactive tool that allows users to assess coastal flood hazard and quantify the potential risk reduction benefits of marine ecosystems for coastal communities, national, regional and city planners, investors, risk managers, insurers and more. It models coastal flooding at different levels of severity in current conditions and projected to 2030 and 2050.

Reducing Caribbean Risk: Opportunities for Cost-Effective Mangrove Restoration and Insurance
The Nature Conservancy | 2021 | Explains the important role insurance companies play in coastal protection. Mangrove forests can help dissipate wave energy and lower flood risk. Mangroves are under threat from man-made factors and insurance can provide a unique market-based mechanism that can cost-effectively protect and restore these coastal habitats.

Insurance for Natural Infrastructure: Assessing the Feasibility of Insuring Coral Reefs in Florida and Hawaii
The Nature Conservancy | 2020 | A case of natural infrastructure in Florida and Hawai’i. Natural infrastructure like mangroves and coral reefs can reduce storm surge heights and aid in mitigating natural disasters. Parametric insurance can help provide a new source of funds to support post-event reef repair to support coastal risk reduction.



Quick Links

BlueInvest platform

The Economist World Ocean Initiative

Friends of Ocean Action

Investable Oceans

Ocean Risk Alliance ORRAA

Planet Tracker

UN Food & Agriculture Organisation – Fisheries