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New Wave of Global Ocean Resilience Innovators Unveiled

  • Challenge backed by the Swiss Re Foundation, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund and the U.S Department of State 
  • Locally driven projects building resilience in coastal communities vulnerable to climate change and reducing ocean risk through financial innovation 

Washington D.C., Wednesday May 10, 2023 – A new wave of locally driven projects building resilience through innovative financial products in developing country coastal communities vulnerable to climate change, are announced today. 

The nine finalists of the latest Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC) – which is backed by the Swiss Re Foundation, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund and U.S. Department of State, have been selected from 50 submissions from around the world. These include solutions ranging from digital tools that build financial security for small-scale fishers to insurance solutions for seaweed farmers. Finalist innovators are from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines, and Tanzania. 

In its third wave, the 2023 Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC23), which is led by the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA), helps incubate locally led resilience innovators to accelerate their growth. These early-stage projects are helping seed the development of a larger pipeline of novel and scalable finance and insurance products that drive investment into coastal and ocean ecosystems and achieve ORRAA’s mission – to deploy at least USD$500m of investment and build the resilience of 250 million climate vulnerable coastal people by 2030. 

ORIC23 provides mentoring, leadership training and funding to help promising, locallyled innovative projects scale-up. The programme provides tailored support from experienced entrepreneurs, project implementors and ocean specialists, including leadership training, support in developing a strong value proposition, and presentations for investors and potential partners. The ultimate aim is to improve the projects’ potential to scale, to strengthen the start-up ecosystem, and to secure additional investment. 

This follows calls for solutions that invest in nature to be a critical part of climate resilience and adaptation, including recognition at COP27 of the importance of ocean-based action for achieving climate goals, and the recent IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report.  

The most promising five projects from the ORIC23 cohort can receive up to USD$50,000 in the next phase of the programme. 

Stefan Huber Fux, Director, Swiss Re Foundation said: “Over the last years, we’ve come to realise that investable ventures in the sector of nature-based solutions are lacking. The privilege of philanthropic actors is to absorb the high risk associated with early-stage projects with an intention to help make such initiatives investable. As a network of insurers, banks, government, multilateral entities, academia and civil society, ORRAA is ideally placed to identify, nurture and scale nature-based solutions through an ecosystem approach.” 

The UK’s Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “It is incredibly important that we continue to manage our oceans sustainably and strengthen the resilience of the marine environment, while driving forward our mission to protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030.  

“Our £500 million Blue Planet Fund is helping countries around the globe tackle issues that have a huge impact on the world’s oceans, and I’m pleased to be supporting this new wave of innovative, locally driven projects that will deliver for vulnerable coastal communities and our marine environment.” 

United States Deputy Special Envoy for Climate, Sue Biniaz said: “By supporting the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, the United States is backing innovators on the ground who are a key part of the action we need.” 

Jesper Hörnberg, the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance’s ORIC Lead said: “ORRAA is incredibly grateful for the support from the Swiss Re Foundation, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund and U.S. Department of State – without which our 2023 incubator and innovator programme would not be possible. ORIC23 is designed to ensure a healthy investable pipeline of projects, which is a key element of our strategy.  We will help these community projects grow and scale by connecting them with potential investors to achieve better outcomes for the Ocean and the communities which depend on it.”   



The nine ORIC23 finalists: 

  1. PescaData App: Enhancing data-driven decision making for sustainable fishing practices, Mexico – This social enterprise provides a software solution which improves data collection and communication among small-scale fishers and fishing organisations in Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, and Peru. Through the PescaData App, fishers can record and share data used on fishing trips (gear types, daily catches, expenses, bycatch), access weather forecasts, and implement community-based solutions for ocean sustainability. The software allows users to discuss and implement solutions without relying on traditional middlemen, thus accelerating peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and action.
  2. Building risk management tools for climate vulnerable communities, Bangladesh – This research seeks to build more climate-resilient fishing communities along the coastal belt of Bangladesh by developing risk management tools that restore and conserve coastal habitats, including introducing risk recovery insurance for fishing communities; and developing early warning and climate advisories targeting coastal communities. The successful implementation of these risk management tools could contribute to reducing the vulnerability of those who are at high risk of disasters like cyclones and storms.
  3. Community-based microinsurance for small-scale seaweed farmers, Tanzania – Bahari Remedies is working to innovate microinsurance products that reduce risks for small-scale seaweed farmers. The innovative products, which include business interruption insurance coverage caused by extreme weather or illness, are designed and implemented for local communities. This approach lowers the costs of administering insurance and can mitigate the consequences of crop failure, natural disasters, market fluctuations, and health problems. Alleviating these challenges would strengthen economic activity for seaweed farmers, the majority of whom are women and young people. Since seaweed farming is one of the most important sources of revenue for these coastal communities, a financial safety-net allows farmers to contribute to aquaculture practices with lower environmental impact.
  4. Seaweed Farm as a Service (SFaaS), Kenya – This business model rents farming equipment and supplies, offers maintenance and repair services, and provides training to seaweed farmers for a fixed period. The project developer guarantees the purchase of the seaweed produced, which creates a reliable source of income for the farmers, most of whom are women and young people in East African coastal communities. At the end of the period, ownership of the equipment is transferred to the farmers. This project will start with two pilot farms in Kenya, with plans to scale across the country, as well as to Tanzania.
  5. Empowering smallholder farmers with financial solutions for marine ecosystem restoration, Tanzania – Germark Holdings Limited aims to develop finance solutions for farmers to support coastal restoration while generating a stable source of income for them. This project will create a platform that develops a pipeline of blue carbon projects along coastal Tanzania. While attracting carbon finance at scale, the platform will link farmers – many of whom are women – to financiers, in the form of grants and debt funding that will use impact data (such as CO2 sequestration and employment generation) as a basis for evaluating the projects.
  6. Planet positive treats: Building a microprocessor network to mitigate invasive species, Mexico – Acari LLC is building a network of small-scale fishers in the states of Quintana Roo and Tabasco to catch and process two invasive species, lionfish and armoured catfish, and to create a market for their use as pet food. As a result, fishers will be incentivised to catch invasive species, improving coastal incomes while mitigating harmful species invasions and restoring native fish populations. Acari LLC will provide financial safety and a market guarantee for fishers by purchasing 100% of the production and paying upfront.
  7. Perahu Apps: Advancing fisheries traceability and financial inclusion, Indonesia – Sahabat Laut Lestari (SLL Fisheries) will scale up a technology application that allows small-scale fishers and local suppliers to comply with local government and market requirements while preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) caught fish from entering the supply chain. The App integrates catch information with economic records and provides verified traceable products with financial transaction records. The App will also report their catch to fisheries databases that can then support more data-based stock assessments and catch allocations. The product is designed to help small-scale fishers overcome the lack of regulatory compliance, electronic traceability, and financial inclusion.
  8. A traceable, sustainable, and inclusive blockchain-driven seaweed marketplace, Kenya – Mwani Blu will scale up a seaweed marketplace through a platform that uses blockchain to reward sustainable, inclusive, and gender-sensitive production strategies that are fully traceable. Buyers will have access to information on farming methods including cultivation, harvesting, processing practices and biodiversity data. Sellers will have access to a safe marketplace that pays a fair income. The project will also use an ocean mapping tool that helps farmers identify the best places to grow seaweed and scale up sustainable production.
  9. Creating a hybrid disaster risk insurance product for coastal communities, The Philippines – Pula Advisors plans to develop a parametric insurance product that covers cyclones, floods, and droughts, guaranteeing a predictable and timely response to vulnerable or affected populations who have suffered damage to their crops or coastal farms. This insurance is more affordable, and contains quick and transparent pay-outs, compared to traditional indemnity products.

About ORRAA  

ORRAA is a multi-sector collaboration connecting the international finance and insurance sectors, governments, non-profits, and stakeholders from the Global South to pioneer finance products that incentivise investment into coastal and ocean Nature-based Solutions. Our goal, by 2030 is to activate at least USD$500million of investment into this space, and in so doing, help build the resilience of at least 250 million climate vulnerable coastal people.

About the Swiss Re Foundation 

The Swiss Re Foundation reflects Swiss Re’s social and humanitarian values. To help build resilient societies, the Foundation offers its partners tailored grant financing as well as access to expertise and collaborative networks to create measurable, lasting impacts at scale.

About the Blue Planet Fund 

The UK’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund supports developing countries to protect the marine environment and reduce poverty. The Fund, financed from the UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget, is an important part of the UK’s global leadership on marine issues which puts tackling climate change and the loss of biodiversity as the UK Government’s highest international priority.

About the U.S. Department of State   

The U.S. Department of State’s mission to protect and promote U.S. security, prosperity, and democratic values and shape an international environment in which all Americans can thrive.  Leadership: The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser. The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department, which includes the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and U.S. Agency for International Development. The Deputy Secretary of State serves as the principal deputy, adviser, and alter ego to the Secretary of State; and assists the Secretary in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy and in giving general supervision and direction to all elements of the Department.


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