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• Winning projects are building resilience in coastal communities vulnerable to climate change, reducing ocean risk through financial innovation
• Incubator and innovation support provided to companies spanning Central and South America, Africa, and South-East Asia
• Challenge backed by the Swiss Re Foundation, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund and the U.S. Department of State

New York, Wednesday 20 September 2023 – A global challenge which identifies and nurtures some of the most financially innovative locally led projects that are building coastal resilience and reducing ocean risk in the Global South has unveiled the winners of its latest search.

The four projects ranging from The Philippines to Colombia were announced during an Investor Forum hosted by the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) at Climate Week NYC 2023. The latest Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC) – which is led by ORRAA and backed by the Swiss Re Foundation, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund and the U.S. Department of State – provides mentoring and leadership training and then connects projects with potential investors to help bridge the gap between locally led innovation and investment, to accelerate their growth and wider positive impact. These winning projects will receive up to USD$50,000, to help them scale up.

The ORIC23 winning projects have been selected from amongst 50 submissions from around the world, ranging from digital tools building financial security for small-scale fishers to parametric insurance solutions for coastal communities and are being implemented in Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Philippines.

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 towards achieving ORRAA’s mission to activate at least USD$500million of investment into coastal and ocean resilience by 2030 and, in so doing, help build the resilience of at least 250 million climate vulnerable coastal people in the Global South. 

Jesper Hörnberg, ORRAA’s ORIC lead said:

“These four brilliant community-led projects will deliver positive impact by building nature-based coastal resilience that protect vulnerable communities. And they will do so in ways that, over time, have the potential to become financially self-sustainable.

We will help these projects, with strong roots in local communities, grow and scale by providing them with mentoring and by connecting them with potential investors to achieve better outcomes for the Ocean and the communities that depend on it.

“I would like to thank our backers – the Swiss Re Foundation, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, and the U.S. Department of State – whose support has brought the latest instalment of this vital incubator and innovation programme to life.”

Stefan Huber Fux, Director, Swiss Re Foundation said:

“Both the recent UN Conference of Parties on biodiversity and climate change – COP15 in Montreal and COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh – recognised that a resilient, net zero and economically secure world is not possible without a healthy, regenerating ocean. While everyone agrees that oceans are important, we must do more to strengthen this ecosystem. We at the Swiss Re Foundation are proud to continue to support ORRAA’s ORIC programme, in their third cycle, as it is an initiative that is making a real difference in the nascent ecosystem of nature-based solutions to strengthen coastal resilience, a key focus area of the Swiss Re Foundation. We congratulate the four newly selected projects of this edition, and firmly believe in their offerings in nature-based solutions that conserve or restore natural assets sustainably. We look forward to seeing the transformative impact they will bring to fruition.”

The four winning projects are:

1) Acari LLC, Colombia and Mexico – This project is building a network of small-scale fishers to capture and process the invasive lionfish while creating a market for their use as pet food. Acari LLC provides a market guarantee to fishers by purchasing 100 per cent of the production and paying upfront. As a result, fishers are incentivised to catch invasive species and help native fish populations to thrive while improving coastal incomes.  

2) Servicios Digitales por la Pesca Sostenible, Mexico –This project seeks to scale the PescaData App which improves data collection, communications and financial decision-making among small-scale fishing organisations. Through the App, fishers can record and share data (such as costs, daily catches, gear types, bycatch), access weather forecasts, and implement community-based solutions for ocean sustainability without relying on traditional intermediaries such as such as NGOs and governments. The software can ultimately accelerate peer-to-peer knowledge sharing – so action can scale rapidly.

3) Pula Advisors, The Philippines – Pula Advisors is developing a parametric insurance product that covers typhoons, floods, and droughts in the Philippines, guaranteeing a predictable and timely response to populations who have suffered damage to their crops or coastal farms. This insurance aims to proactively protect rather than reactively compensate those who are affected by seasonal typhoons. Moreover, it is more affordable, and contains quick and transparent pay-outs, compared to traditional indemnity products.

4) SLL Fisheries (Sahabut Laut Lestari), Indonesia – SLL Fisheries is developing a mobile phone application so small-scale fishers in Indonesia can log fishing data, with the goal to improve fisher operations and increase fisheries’ traceability. The Perahu App places artisanal fishers at the centre of the solution by integrating systemic catch information (fishing grounds, fishing gear, landing data) with economic records (fisher to buyer transactions). If the catch complies with the global market’s requirements for traceability, fishers gain a secured value for their catch. By tracking business operations, the app provides a financial record that fishers can use to apply for bank loans and government grants.  The Perahu App can be used by small-scale fishers and local suppliers to comply with government and global market requirements surrounding legality and traceability to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing products entering the supply chain.

Winners from the first ORIC round, launched in 2021, 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; winners from ORIC II, launched in 2022, include a start-up in India that uses satellite remote sensing and geospatial analytics to address the challenges of sustainable development and climate change (SatSense Solutions), and a South-Africa-based social enterprise seeking to develop thriving small-scale fishing communities in Africa and beyond (ABALOBI).

Pictures from ORRAA’s first ever Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC) Investor Forum the Explorers’ Club in New York City – where this year’s winners were announced:

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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