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Mobilising finance for ocean resilience set to accelerate after landmark meeting at COP26

Glasgow, 5 November 2021 – A first-of-a-kind meeting on Ocean Action Day at COP26 in Glasgow today brought together the private sector, governments and civil society from around the world to commit to investing into coastal and marine environments to accelerate the finance essential for building resilience, protecting nature and tackling climate risk.

The importance of the Ocean as a planetary life system – and especially its impact on some of the most threatened communities on Earth – was the focus of a round-table co-hosted by the UK COP26 Presidency and the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA).

Major commitments announced today include:

  • ORRAA is leading an initiative to help design a blue resilience clearing house to help grow the project pipeline for investment and provide a forum for those wishing to invest in verified marine and coastal natural capital, to find investment opportunities. It is hoped that this will provide the framework for millions of dollars of investment over the next decade. The design process is being led by ORRAA member, Palladium and in collaboration with WWF, Bank of America and Convergence Finance.
  • The Government of Canada reaffirmed its long-term support of ORRAA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed this week at COP26 a $9m commitment to the Alliance. This follows the initial $2m seed funding which underpinned the setting up of ORRAA.
  • Google announced a US$2m commitment on behalf of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to ORRAA for its work with partners to develop an innovative risk assessment tool to help insurers combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a critical threat to the ocean’s health and capacity to cope with climate change. It is being developed by the international non-profits, Global Fishing Watch (GFW), Ocean Unite and Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT).
  • The UK reaffirmed its investment into ORRAA through the Blue Planet Fund and announced that part of its contribution will be invested into ORRAA’s Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC), which seeks to surface new, locally-led finance products which can be scaled to benefit coastal communities across the world. The UK and Swiss Re Foundation’s financial contributions will amount to more than $500,000 to support the Challenge over the next two years.
  • AXA, ORRAA’s global lead insurance partner committed US$1.15m in support of ocean risk research as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science and launched a new, publicly available Coastal Risk Index, which for the first time, showcases the importance of mangroves and coral reefs in reducing flood risk.
  • Deutsche Bank, a founding member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance and the first bank to join ORRAA as a full member, announced the launch of the Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund dedicated to ocean conservation and coastal resilience.  The bank is committing an initial $300,000 to launch the fund and aims to raise up to $5m from clients and other stakeholders within the next five years. The first initiative to be supported by the fund will be the Future Climate Coral Bank, a research project led by the Maldives Coral Institute (MCI) that is designed to identify coral species that are resilient to climate change and conserve them in a living gene bank.
  • Willis Towers Watson, AXA and Palladium are all founder signatories of the BackBlue Ocean Finance Commitment, which is UN-backed and is designed to incorporate the Ocean in finance and insurance decisions, especially with its importance in the fight against climate change.

Karen Sack, Executive Director of ORRAA said: “A step-change in investment levels is critical to protect the welfare of the Ocean, its ecosystems and the three billion people across the world which depend on it for food security and economic and social resilience, from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developing Countries (LDCs) to those living in megacities.

“Today’s commitments show the growing momentum behind investment into coastal and ocean focused, nature-based solutions to build resilience and reduce risk. A new global ocean finance architecture is needed to enable the significant scaling of investment into this space from the 10s and 100s of millions into the billions and trillions. Today was a welcome first step.”

The co-hosted COP26 Presidency event was the culmination of dialogue and events held throughout 2021, including ORRAA’s Solution Series labs and showcases, and endorsement by the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers.

International Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “The UK is proud to have co-hosted this Blue Finance roundtable alongside ORRAA. It’s hugely encouraging to see such ambitious commitments and the level of support for achieving blue economies, as well as investment in new initiatives that will benefit our ocean from the participants – including the significant announcement from Canada.

“Our shared ocean is critical to the economic, social and environmental well-being of people and the planet. We must find collaborative solutions to improve ocean resilience and I look forward to seeing this momentum continue.”

Other elements of ORRAA’s work supported by the UK’s Blue Planet Fund include a partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the U.S.-based think-tank, Stimson Centre, focusing on building the resilience of cities based in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This was announced by Baroness Scotland, the Commonwealth’s Secretary-General. WWF also announced a supported project that will build coastal resilience with the South West Indian Ocean country partners.

Additional Blue Planet Fund investments will support other ORRAA projects, including work with non-profits Rare and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund which support the development of insurance products for small-scale fisheries in the Philippines and in the Mesoamerican reef respectively, to improve the social, economic and ecological resilience of coastal communities and their environments.