Ecosystems > Sustainable Blue Economy > The Principles

The Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles are the gold standard to invest in the ocean economy. Launched in 2018, they are the world’s first global guiding framework for banks, insurers and investors to finance a sustainable blue economy. They promote the implementation of SDG 14 (Life Below Water), and set out ocean-specific standards, allowing the financial industry to mainstream sustainability of ocean-based sectors.

The principles were developed by the European Commission, WWF, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) and are hosted by UNEP FI as part of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative.


Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

1. Protective
We will support investments, activities and projects that take all possible measures to restore, protect or maintain the diversity, productivity, resilience, core functions, value and the overall health of marine ecosystems, as well as the livelihoods and communities dependent upon them.
2. Compliant
We will support investments, activities and projects that are compliant with international, regional, national legal and other relevant frameworks which underpin sustainable development and ocean health.
3. Risk-aware
We will endeavour to base our investment decisions on holistic and long-term assessments that account for economic, social and environmental values, quantified risks and systemic impacts and will adapt our decision-making processes and activities to reflect new knowledge of the potential risks, cumulative impacts and opportunities associated with our business activities.
4. Systemic
We will endeavour to identify the systemic and cumulative impacts of our investments, activities and projects across value chains.
5. Inclusive
We will support investments, activities and projects that include, support and enhance local livelihoods, and engage effectively with relevant stakeholders, identifying, responding to, and mitigating any issues arising from affected parties.
6. Cooperative
We will cooperate with other financial institutions and relevant stakeholders to promote and implement these principles through sharing of knowledge about the ocean, best practices for a sustainable Blue Economy, lessons learned, perspectives and ideas.
7. Transparent
We will make information available on our investments and their social, environmental and economic impacts (positive and negative), with due respect to confidentiality. We will endeavour to report on progress in terms of implementation of these Principles.
8. Purposeful
We will endeavour to direct investment to projects and activities that contribute directly to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (“Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”) and other Sustainable Development Goals especially those which contribute to good governance of the ocean.
9. Impactful
We will support investments, projects and activities that go beyond the avoidance of harm to provide social, environmental and economic benefits from our ocean for both current and future generations.
10. Precautionary
We will support investments, activities and projects in our ocean that have assessed the environmental and social risks and impacts of their activities based on sound scientific evidence. The precautionary principle will prevail, especially when scientific data is not available.
11. Diversified
Recognising the importance of small to medium enterprises in the Blue Economy, we will endeavour to diversify our investment instruments to reach a wider range of sustainable development projects, for example in traditional and non-traditional maritime sectors, and in small and large-scale projects.
12. Solution-driven
We will endeavour to direct investments to innovative commercial solutions to maritime issues (both land- and ocean-based), that have a positive impact on marine ecosystems and ocean-dependent livelihoods. We will work to identify and to foster the business case for such projects, and to encourage the spread of best practice thus developed.
13. Partnering
We will partner with public, private and nongovernment sector entities to accelerate progress towards a sustainable Blue Economy, including in the establishment and implementation of coastal and maritime spatial planning approaches.
14. Science-led
We will actively seek to develop knowledge and data on the potential risks and impacts associated with our investments, as well as encouraging sustainable investment opportunities in the Blue Economy. More broadly, we will endeavour to share scientific information and data on the marine environment.

Founders of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

The founding partners developed and launched the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles and continue to provide an advisory role to the Initiative. For more on the background and history of the Principles click here.


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