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Coral reef – lots of fish

The ORRAA News – Q1 2023

Our Ocean Conference, Panama
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Fiji (left) Karen Sack, Executive Director, ORRAA (middle) acting permanent representative to the United Nations Filipo Tarakinikini and Office of the Prime Minister permanent secretary Pita Wise (right).

March 30

Dear ORRAA members and friends  

Welcome to the latest edition of The ORRAA News!

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently published its AR6 Synthesis Report, making clear the urgent need to address the escalating climate crisis.  As IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said: “What happens with our oceans will profoundly and inevitably influence what happens to our planet and how liveable it will be in the not-so-distant future.”

The IPCC report makes absolutely clear, as it has since it issued its first report in 1992, that half measures and baby-steps are simply insufficient to address the climate crisis. The gist of the report is summarised succinctly by UN Secretary General António Guterres, who said “The climate time-bomb is ticking…But today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity. Humanity is on thin ice – and that ice is melting fast…Our world needs climate action on all fronts – everything, everywhere, all at once.” 

Leaders need to act and listen even more closely to the voices of Small Island Developing States as they respond to this report as well as those arguing that meeting the 1.5-degree Paris target is (becoming) unachievable. Vanuatu’s Minister of Climate Change, the Hon. Ralph Regenvanu has said it most clearly in a recent article in the New Statesman: “In 2023 we need to see countries recommit to the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation and agree, finally, to phase out all fossil fuels. Our country was the first to call for a global treaty to phase out fossil fuels. Vanuatu has already committed to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. It will be hard but we are determined to lead, even if the bigger global economies are not. If we can commit to this, tell me why all G20 countries can’t do the same?”

Meanwhile, in the world of ocean policy, the first quarter of this year has been full of meetings – and some progress. The fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) in Vancouver in February brought practitioners together to focus on implementing and financing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and ensuring Indigenous and community voices are heard. The Economist’s World Ocean Summit in Lisbon at the end of February focused on blue finance, science, and data. Early March began with the 8th Our Ocean Conference in Panama with significant commitments made to ocean health.

These international gatherings also coincided with negotiations at the United Nations in New York that concluded the new high seas biodiversity treaty. The UN treaty – two decades in the making – will be critical to meeting the 30×30 Global Biodiversity Framework target and recognises the critical links between a healthy ocean and stable climate, bridging the artificial legal separation that has divided these critical Earth systems for generations. Hope Springs Eternal

Could this be hope? Well, in the context of everything else going on in the world, we are going to say that it is a glimmer. It is also an opportunity to power forward, regenerate ocean life, and build coastal resilience.

Need more hope? Read our 2022 Action Report, spotlighting ORRAA and our members’ work over the past year to drive innovative finance and insurance solutions that build resilience in climate vulnerable coastal communities. Also read on to see the very welcome news of the new Neptune Fund that we launched with Synchronicity Earth and Aurum; and welcome with us two new ORRAA Inc. Board members, Ted Janulis and Lesley Ndlovu and some amazing new members:    Full Members: Fiji; the United States; Whale and Dolphin ConservationIberostar GroupHowdenPlanet Ocean FundMinderoo FoundationUniversity of California Santa Cruz, and WildTrust. And new ObserverReefy

We are also incredibly excited that the ORRAA Secretariat team is growing with Ariane Steins-Meier joining as our Innovation and Scaling Director, Karen Ancillai as Chief of Staff and Chief Development Officer, and Tânia SalvaterraBarbara Favaro and Erin Skoczylas joining the programme team!

As always, if you have any questions or would like to set up a call to catch up with the team, please do let us know.  

Karen & the ORRAA team 

BREAKING NEWS – We will be announcing a new, exciting Call for Proposals backed by the UK’s Blue Planet Fund in the coming weeks. Please share with your networks once it is announced.

Our Ocean Conference, Panama
President Surangel Whipps Jr. Palau (second to right) with Bridge Thomas Palau (right) meets with Simon Dent (left) and Karen Sack ORRAA (second to left)

Our Ocean Conference Side Event hosted by The Minderoo Foundation on “Increasing Oversight of Fishing Vessels by Their Flag States – Considerations for a Reform Agenda” (From left to right): Eleanor Partridge TMT, Chris Wilcox Minderoo Foundation, Karen Sack ORRAA 
Karen Sack, ORRAA (middle) meeting with our new member Iberostar Group, Gloria Fluxà Thienemann, Chief Sustainability Officer (left) and Erika Harms, Coastal Health Strategy Director (right)

Quarterly Highlights

1. Coastal Climate Resilience Symposium, 16 March 2023, University of California Santa Cruz, California 

Chip Cunliffe, ORRAA’s Programme and Risk Director spoke at a symposium hosted by University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), California Department of Insurance, US Army Corps of Engineers and the California Ocean Science Trust. 100 experts gathered to discuss ways to integrate nature into risk science and insurance solutions. ORRAA members AXA, WTW, Swiss Re, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and ORIC 2022 finalist, Save the Waves participated.
Chip met with Professor Mike Beck, Director of UCSC’s new Center for Coastal Climate Resilience, one of ORRAA’s newest members. Mike and Post-Doctoral Fellow, Pelayo Menendez, lead ORRAA’s Coastal Risk Index work on understanding the social vulnerability and risk exposure resulting from coastal ecosystem degradation.

2. High Seas Treaty – 5th Session of the Intergovernmental Conference, 20 February – 3 March, New York

After almost two decades of negotiations and final around the clock talks, late on Saturday night, 4 March 2023, at the UN in New York City, countries around the world agreed the first ever treaty to protect marine life in the ocean outside national boundaries.  The High Seas Treaty provides a crucial legal framework for protecting and conserving marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, requiring prior environmental impact assessments and regulating the use of marine genetic resources. Financing was one of the topics of discussion and some commitments have been made, but work remains on a sustainable financing mechanism for the new treaty as well as how to ensure that once high seas MPAs are established, they are effectively monitored and implemented.

3. Our Ocean Conference 2023, 2 – 3 March 2023, Panama – the 8th OOC

Our Ocean has always been a wonderful opportunity for the ocean community to meet, confer, and develop new ideas, as well as pledge new commitments. Participants this year were thrilled as Panama pledged to protect over 50 per cent of its waters. Side events and the plenary focused on everything from combatting illegal fishing to blue carbon opportunities, meeting the 30×30 MPA targets, green shipping, and the next big ocean treaty: plastics. 

Three G7 countries – the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – confirmed their multi-year commitments to building ocean resilience through ORRAA amounting to USD$22 million. 

Following U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry’s announcement of U.S. support for ORRAA at last year’s Our Ocean Conference in Palau, ORRAA is pleased also to confirm that the U.S. has become a full member of the Alliance and will sit on our Steering Council.

Canada confirmed as part of its CAD$9 million grant to ORRAA, that it will invest in projects that build coastal resilience in the Global South through innovative finance and insurance solutions. 

The UK confirmed it is investing GBP£12 million through its Blue Planet Fund, to further support ORRAA’s mission. The first project that the UK will be supporting, announced at Our Ocean, is work to further develop Vessel Viewer, a tool for insurers driven by data that builds a picture of a vessel’s profile and behaviour to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

ORRAA in turn committed to deliver on these investments.

We were thrilled that one of the youth delegates, Edwin Superius, who works with one of the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge finalists, AFO Tanzania, made it to Panama City and was selected as one of the ocean solutions sprint winners. Well done Edwin!

Karen also spoke at/facilitated the following events:

  1. Global Fishing Watch event on “Transparency, Technology and Innovation” in their Sessions: Political Will and Government Action”
  2. Minderoo Foundation event: “Increasing Oversight of Fishing Vessels by Their Flag States – Considerations for a Reform Agenda”
  3. The Stimson Center event: “Assessment to Action: Strengthening Climate Resilience in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal Least Developed Countries (LDCs)”
  4. Waitt Institute and ORRAA event: “Sustainable Financing for 30×30”

The next Our Ocean meeting will take place in Greece in 2024.

Our Ocean Conference, Panama

Karen Sack, ORRAA meets with Edwin Superius, Aqua-Farms Organization (AFO) Tanzania. ORRAA is proud to support AFO through our Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge.  

Edwin and AFO also won the Our Ocean, Ocean Solutions Sprint award, congratulations!

4. The Economist Impact’s 2023 World Ocean Summit, 27 February – 1 March 2023, Lisbon, Portugal 

The ORRAA team in Lisbon included Karen, Chip CunliffeTorsten ThieleNate Matthews (Global Resilience Partnership CEO and ORRAA board member)and Ted Janulis, (Investable Oceans and a new ORRAA board member, welcome Ted!)
Karen spoke on the “Closing the finance gap to meet SDG14 targets” panel. The event was moderated by Martin Koehring, World Ocean Initiative and included Lisa Kurbiel, Joint SDG Fund, Keith Lawrence, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Karine Measson, European Investment Bank as co-panellists.
A big focus of the panel discussion focused on how to build the investable project pipeline and tackle the challenge of the ‘missing middle’ when it comes to financing ocean investment – both challenges ORRAA is trying to address through our work.
Karen also had the pleasure of announcing the Neptune Fund, in collaboration with ORRAA members Synchronicity Earth and Aurum. Already capitalised at USD$500,000, the Neptune Fund will provide a source of vital, targeted funding for critical yet overlooked and underfunded marine conservation challenges in Small Island Developing States and Coastal Least Developed Countries. The Fund is an expendable endowment fund enabling donors to supply regular long-term support to locally led grassroots organisations working at the forefront of ocean conservation. Hedge fund investment specialist and ORRAA member, Aurum, is providing financial and institutional support.
Chip spoke on a panel on ‘How should cities engage with the ocean to mitigate climate change’. Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy, from the Resilient Cities Network moderated the event bringing out different perspectives from Caroline Douglass, UK Environment Agency and Kobie Brand, Africa Secretariat of ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability).
Torsten, ORRAA’s Senior Advisor on Blue Finance moderated a panel event focused on ‘Why investors should pay attention to nature’. The panel included Jessica Smith, UNEP Finance Initiative; Isabelle Combarel, Swen Capital Partners; Rachel Delhaise, Convex; and Lucy Holmes, WWF USA.

World Ocean Summit, Lisbon, Portugal
(From left to right): Chip Cunliffe, ORRAA, Kobie Brand, ICLEI Africa, Caroline Douglass, UK Environment Agency, and Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy, Resilient Cities Network speaking on The Economist Impact’s 2023 World Ocean Summit panel ‘How should cities engage with the ocean to mitigate climate change’.

5. International Marine Protected Areas Conference 5, 3 – 9 February 2023, Vancouver, Canada

IMPAC5 brought practitioners from around the world together to focus on best practices for implementing marine protected areas. ORRAA and several of our members joined the discussions. We were able to brief the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Blue Economy on opportunities for investment and an assessment of the blue finance space. We also participated in the Leadership Forum finance roundtable which was  facilitated by Torsten and Kate Brown (Global Island Partnership and ORRAA member) and included representatives from a number of ORRAA members including: Rt Hon Lord Benyon, Minister of State (Minister for Biosecurity, Marine and Rural Affairs) at the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Steven Guilbeault, Canadian Minister for Environment and Climate Change; Melissa Garvey from The Nature Conservancy; Matt Rand from Pew; as well as Karen, on how to finance effective MPA implementation. We also had the pleasure of meeting with Commonwealth Secretary General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC and Nick Hardman-Mountford, who leads the Commonwealth Blue Charter Initiative.

IMPAC5, Vancouver
Rt Hon Lord Benyon, UK Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with Karen Sack  

Melissa Garvey, TNC’s Global Director, Ocean Protection, Torsten Thiele, ORRAA’s Senior Advisor on Blue Finance and Karen Sack

Maldives Minister of the Environment Climate Change and Technology, Shauna Aminath with Karen Sack

One of ORRAA’s key pillars is Financial Innovation. We are working from the ground-up, nurturing and scaling the development of community-led finance and insurance products that build coastal and ocean resilience. They lock in sustainable financing, are locally led, and are climate, nature, and gender positive. One of the ways in which we do this is through the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge 2023 – or ORIC23!

  • Launched in 2020, ORIC has run two Challenge rounds to date, supporting solutions that deliver genuine impact in local communities, while also mitigating ocean and climate risk
  • The Challenge calls for community-led novel and scalable finance and insurance solutions that build coastal resilience and reduce ocean risk for people who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods
  • Challenge finalists receive tailored mentoring and support in developing and promoting their solutions and connecting with potential investors. Selected finalists who graduate from the Challenge, and meet pre-agreed criteria, can receive next-stage funding of up to USD$50,000 to scale their initiatives and improve investment readiness
  • The third wave of ORIC was launched in January 2023 with an open and competitive call for proposals. It ended on Friday 10 March 2023. The new cohort of ORIC projects will be announced in April
  • ORIC23 is supported by the Swiss Re Foundation, the United States Department of State and the UK’s Blue Planet Fund

BREAKING NEWS – We have received a record 50 submissions to ORIC23 from all around the Ocean. We look forward to sifting through these exciting projects in the coming weeks. Watch this space!

Welcome Aboard!

We are excited to announce that Fiji, Palau, and the United States will be joining ORRAA’s Steering Council. The Steering Council represents the voices of our members and ensures we are collectively driving towards ORRAA’s mission by 2030 to positively impact the resilience of at least 250 million climate vulnerable people in coastal areas around the world. See the elected representatives of our Steering Council which meets twice a year to help guide the Alliance’s work

Ariane Steins-Meier will join the ORRAA team from April as Innovation and Scaling Director. Ariane joins us from Rare where she was Vice President for Global Development and Executive Director for Rare Europe. She has also previously worked at The Nature Conservancy on their efforts around the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as with the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in Bonn.

Karen Ancillai will be joining ORRAA full-time from April as our Chief of Staff and Chief Development Officer. Karen A. (also known as ‘the other Karen’) has been a part of ORRAA’s journey from the start at Ocean Unite and previously worked as Senior Director for Philanthropic Partnerships at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

ORRAA Inc’s Board of Directors has also grown. Ted Janulis, the Founder and Principal of Investable Oceans, has joined as a Board member and brings his valuable experience in the financial world to ORRAA. We’re also delighted to welcome Lesley Ndlovu to the Board. Lesley is the CEO of the African Risk Capacity (ARC) and has a decade in the insurance sector. 

Our Programme team is also growing with Tânia Salvaterra joining to work on the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, Barbara Favaro joining as a programme associate and Erin Skoczylas as a senior associate working on programme communications.

Upcoming Events

Please let us know if there are additional events in which your organisations are taking part:  

  1. G7 Leaders’ Summit, 19 – 21 May 2023, Hiroshima, Japan
  2. UNFCCC Climate Change Conference – meetings of Subsidiary Bodies, 5 – 15 June 2023, Bonn, Germany
  3. World Ocean Day 2023, 8 June 2023
  4. Bermuda Climate Summit, 26 June 2023, Bermuda
  5. G20 Leaders’ Summit, 9 – 10 September 2023, New Delhi, India 
  6. New York Climate Week, 17 – 24 September 2023, New York, USA  
  7. UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 28), 30 November – 12 December 2023, Dubai, United Arab Emirates  

Should you have anything that you would like us to add to the next newsletter, please send it to Please also let us know if you have any questions or would like to set up an individual video conference to catch up.

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