23 October 2019

Neglected by policies for too long, in spite of its vital importance for the planet, the Blue Economy is one of today’s critical themes for achieving sustainable development. Oceans are critical to sustaining life on Earth. Billions of people depend both directly and indirectly on the oceans for livelihoods, food security and economic development. The blue economy generates multiple benefits such as jobs and social capital, but the overall contribution generally differs from sector to sector. According to OECD, ocean-based industries’ gross value added could double in size in the next 10 years, from about USD1.5 trillion today to USD 3 trillion in 2030.

However, oceans are facing unprecedented pressures, from pollution to climate change. And these pressures are only projected to rise in the future. The need to balance the preservation of a healthy ocean and ever-increasing economic activities requires new approaches, including a new wave of sustainable investment in various sectors of the blue economy.

Finance for Impact, in a consortium with Ecorys, is conducting a EU-funded research project examining the investment sources of those maritime activities that risk leading to unsustainable outcomes. The goal is to identify and describe the financial practices in the blue economy that support unsustainable activities, in particular those which harm the ocean environment and local communities; and which expose companies, financial institutions and investors from the private and public sector to stranded assets, reputational risks and economic losses. Ultimately, we will provide recommendations to investors and policymakers to steer blue economy investments from such unsustainable activities to sustainable ones that can foster economic development of the blue economy in a responsible manner. The results from this study are expected to support the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development, by encouraging alignment of financial flows with a pathway towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.