Blue Finance Begins
As the oceans reach a crisis point, private capital must be deployed to fund sustainable solutions. Given that the seas are equivalent to the world’s seventh largest economy, finance is more aligned with the deep than has been previously recognized. A handful of bankers and investment managers are leading the way, but success will require a collective effort from across the financial industry.
The problems appear insurmountable. Underwater videos depict divers swimming through plastic bottles and waste in Indonesia; photographs from marine biologists on the Great Barrier Reef reveal haunting scenes of once brightly coloured coral now grey and dead; and documentaries show fishermen in the Philippines returning with empty boats. The images are upsetting. The statistics are horrifying: 75% of the world’s fishing resources are in advanced decline; by 2025 there will be one tonne of plastic residue in the oceans for every three tonnes of fish; by 2030 about 90% of coral reefs will be under threat of extinction, while many species of sharks, whales, turtles, rays, coastal birds and mammals may already be gone.
Our oceans are under attack on every front: climate change, plastics, pollution, over-fishing, oil spills, acidification, excessive boating activity and coastal development. But it is not too late to reverse the trend. And, unlike forests that can take hundreds of years to regenerate, scientists have shown that oceans can recover in short amounts of time if the right measures are taken.
Beyond altering our own individual behaviour, those measures need two things in particular – political will and capital. Awareness has dawned in other areas of the environment that government funding and philanthropic donations alone cannot provide enough money. And the same realization is dawning for the health of the 70% of our planet that is blue. Just as green finance has emerged in response to deforestation and carbon emissions, so too now people are looking to the capital markets and to the investment community for answers for our oceans.
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