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Global Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge names finalists

World Oceans Day 8 June 2022 – A global competition which identifies and nurtures financially innovative, community-led projects that build coastal resilience and reduce ocean risk, today announces it has selected nine finalists to go through to the final selection phase.

Currently in its second wave, the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC), which is led by the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA), acts as an incubator by providing mentoring, leadership training and, for some, funding to help promising projects scale up.

At COP26 in Glasgow, The UK Minister for the Pacific and the Environment at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Rt Hon Lord [Zac] Goldsmith, announced that the Swiss Re Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Blue Planet Fund (BPF) would contribute more than USD$500,000 to the running of the Challenge throughout 2022 and 2023.

As part of the programme, the projects benefit from the support and tailored guidance of a mentor and a three-day Leadership Academy to refine their business plans and hone their skills.  ORIC also connects projects with potential investors to help bridge the gap between locally led innovation and investment, to accelerate their growth and wider positive impact.

“The Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge is designed to ensure a healthy pipeline of scalable projects, which are developing financial and insurance products. This a locally-led programme, delivering positive impact when it comes to building coastal resilience and protecting vulnerable communities from the effects of climate change,” comment Karen Sack, Executive Director, ORRAA. “We were impressed with the calibre and innovation of the applications. Together, with the support of our partners and members, we aim to grow and scale promising projects by connecting them with potential investors to achieve positive outcomes for the Ocean and the communities who depend on it.” 

After reviewing all the applications, the nine finalists are:

Abalobi, South Africa – A social enterprise seeking to develop thriving small-scale fishing communities in Africa and beyond. Through its technology, Abalobi can connect small-scale fishers directly with consumers ensuring a fair, transparent income for the fisher, and fully traceable “Fish With A Story” for the consumer. They are based in South Africa, but their projects are located across Africa.  The envisaged financial product will allow fishers to save towards pre-defined targets (such as repairing or replacing fishing equipment).  They can contribute as much or as little as they like and at different times. Fishers will be able to elect to divert a portion of their income into a savings account through the Abalobi Fisher app.  https://abalobi.org

Aqua-Farms Organization (AFO), Tanzania – A youth-led, non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Tanzania that aims to create resilient coastal communities by focusing on marine habitat restoration, improving fish markets, as well as innovation and research toward expanding livelihood opportunities while preserving biodiversity. If successful, ORICII will support AFO roll out tubular net seaweed farming technology through helping to facilitate microcredit to purchase equipment such as boats, special nets, buoys, anchors and pipes.  It will also create a village community bank and help mark for seaweed hygiene products such as soap, shampoo and lotions and food products including juice, jam, seaweed sticks, salads, cakes and noodles.  Its goal is to expand the technology through financing 750 farmers through 50 farming groups in 2026.  The seaweed is harvested by trained and skilled women.  https://afo.or.tz 

Barefoot Monsoon, India – This project works with communities to develop high quality nature-based carbon offset projects to sequester emissions while improving livelihoods. It enables partnerships with low emission technology leaders, from development to commercial deployment. Barefoot Monsoon also finances high impact water, climate change and biodiversity projects. Barefoot Monsoon is based in Australia, but the shortlisted project is in India.  This project will use a community incentive structure through concessional micro-finance and insurance that helps grassroot level removal of plastic from mangroves and afforestation. Deploying remote sensing to measure the change in plastic debris as well as increase in mangrove forest cover brings transparency for financiers and the community.   The project will also generate revenue from the sale of high integrity carbon offset credits and plastic credits and from upcycling plastic waste (for example selling pellets for road making and multi-layered plastic used for roof sheets) to name but two revenue streams. https://www.facebook.com/barefootmonsoonrain/ 

Blue Ventures, operating in multiple locations including Indonesia and Madagascar – Blue Ventures is working to restore the world’s oceans and improve the livelihoods of traditional fishing communities. It has an office in the UK, but its projects are in countries including Indonesia and Madagascar. This project will put data at the heart of tackling the financial exclusion of fishers.  It will build resilience and can be scaled up.  It is based on the participative monitoring of natural resource use, coupled with locally led management and fair credit.  It will also be used to drive other nature-based solutions to climate change in vulnerable coastal communities, such as blue carbon. https://blueventures.org 

Engineers Without Borders, Denmark – A technical humanitarian organisation made up of volunteering members who develop technical and sustainable solutions, combined with local engagement and ownership, to improve living conditions in some of the poorest communities in the world. One such project is the Lagoon Clean-up project in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which is establishing a sustainable value-chain on the collection, management, and recycling of ocean-bound plastic waste. The project is developing an innovative three-pronged transitory combination of financial income streams of selling plastic waste as raw material, creating recycled products from hard-to-sell plastic and integrating plastic credits. Through this setup, the project will develop a market resilient, income-generating and scalable model that can circumvent and in time reduce the economic gap for plastic waste collection and its recycling. https://iug.dk/en/ 

The Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge is designed to ensure a healthy pipeline of scalable projects, which are developing financial and insurance products.

INVERSA Leathers, Mexico – This organisation manufactures the world’s first regenerative leather. Made from invasive lionfish, which can destroy local marine life, INVERSA Leathers helps solve an environmental crisis and helps fashion be more sustainable.  INVERSA Leathers is based in Florida USA, but the shortlisted project will build well-equipped fishing cooperatives in Quintana Roo, Mexico, through underwriting fishers’ risk with a 100% catch-to-cash guarantee, financing the upfront re-tooling expenses for fishers to hunt and catch lionfish and offering premium incentives and prompt payment timelines. https://www.inversaleathers.com 

Mesoamerican Reef, Guatemala – The project will establish an innovative financing scheme for the deployment of nature-based solutions for adaptation and resilience in Caribbean Guatemala. This mechanism will leverage commercial bank loans through a de-risking facility and guarantee fund and will allow to leverage a “blended finance” mechanism through partnerships with local coastal landowners and philanthropic fund raising. Through the proposed financial mechanism, the project will be able to finance different Nature-based Solutions, such as natural wetlands wastewater treatment, emission reduction and carbon sequestration, that would be too difficult to finance through traditional financial intermediation and projects.  https://coastalresilience.org/project/mexico-central-america/

Satsense Solutions, India – A start-up that uses satellite remote sensing and geospatial analytics to address the challenges of sustainable development and climate change. Its project de-risks sustainable tourism and supports the economic development of the Sundarbans region in eastern India. They have an office in the UK, but the projects are in India. This project quantifies the risk of coastal erosion and flooding at a local level, enabling insurance companies to develop and design new insurance products. Providing risk mitigation options for property owners and developers. As an example, insurance products can be offered exclusively (or at a lower premium) to properties that have reduced risk, such as those with mangrove cover or similar natural barriers in place. The Sundarbans is an area of extreme poverty that is climate vulnerable. Sustainable economic development in this region could lift tens of thousands of people out of extreme poverty, while also ensuring the natural capital is conserved.  https://satsense.co

Save the Waves, Mexico, Peru, Maldives – An international non-profit dedicated to protecting surf ecosystems across the globe through a unique combination of protected area creation, stewardship and grassroots mobilisation. Save The Waves will work with local surfing communities and economies to incentivise the protection and conservation of surf ecosystems, while creating an innovative insurance model where revenue can be sustained if there is a change or loss in the ecosystem function that creates the surf break, that ultimately pays communities for loss of revenue due to coastal development or climate disaster affecting the surf ecosystem.  https://www.savethewaves.org/

The Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge is part of ORRAA’s goal to drive USD$500 million of investment into ocean Nature-based Solutions, surface at least 50 novel finance products and improve the resilience of 250 million people in coastal areas around the world.

Winners from the first Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, launched last year, include an initiative to empower seaweed farmers in Indonesia through innovation and financial inclusion (MARI Indonesia), and a plastics credit platform in India (rePurpose Global) to reduce waste, support livelihoods and restore natural capital.

Another winner from the first Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge was Marine Change.  ORRAA is currently working with Marine Change to enhance the resilience of tuna fishing communities in Indonesia by supporting the development of parametric climate risk insurance. Marine Change is introducing a parametric insurance product to provide payments to coastal fishers when extraordinary weather events prevent them going to sea. Parametric insurance has been extensively implemented in agriculture, paying out when, for example, there is insufficient or excess rainfall which cut crop yields.


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