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The ORRAA News – Q1 2024

28 March 2024

Dear ORRAA members and friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of The ORRAA News.

It is already the end of March 2024! Time is flying by and, with it, news of another month of extreme heat and, in particular, a heating Ocean. The statistics are scary.

The reality in the water, as one of our members who just visited a site near the equator said, ‘is like diving into a warm bath’; and the outcomes are worrying. Earlier this month on a call with coral biologist Callum Roberts, I had to catch my breath as he described the impacts of the bleaching event currently underway and what it could mean for the world’s corals, their marine life, and the coastal communities that depend on them for their livelihoods. The latest landmark English Law legal opinion on the relevance of nature-related risks to a company’s financial success and directors’ legal duties, underscores the corporate liability risks in what is happening too.

We have no time to lose as we redouble our efforts towards building coastal and ocean resilience – and given this past month marked International Women’s Day, we have been celebrating the role of women as entrepreneurs and innovators, investors and civil society leaders. Over the next 18 months, we will mark each quarter with a theme. Coming up next, given Earth Day in April: investing in nature as an asset class.

Speaking of time, I was provided with the grace of a month of slow and measured strategic thinking thanks to the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation. I spent February as a Rockefeller Resident Fellow at the Bellagio Centre on the banks of Lake Como in Italy. My focus: how we can collectively build a world where a regenerating and sustainable ocean is an investable proposition, and where investing in the resilience of coastal communities in the Global South is considered business as usual.

I focused on the action that ORRAA can take to help drive the build-out of a capital market for the Ocean. I then had the pleasure of sharing this thinking with the ORRAA Steering Council, looking forward towards the 2025 Blue Economy and Finance Forum (BEFF) meeting being hosted by Monaco just before the France and Costa Rica-hosted Third United Nations Ocean Conference in Nice. More soon on all of this.

The need to both accelerate our mission and meet our ambition means that our team needs to grow, and it is a pleasure to welcome five new Secretariat staff (see below for details). To prepare for this year, we also held two great planning sessions. The first saw the senior management team come together in Washington DC in January. Then, following my “gap month” during which Chip ably stepped-up to the helm, we held our annual in-person full team meeting at the beautiful Oceanário de Lisboa in Lisbon in March.

We cannot thank our hosts, the Oceano Azul Foundation, enough, for the wonderful venue that allowed us to get stuck into developing plans for the year ahead as well as for bringing our expanding (and otherwise entirely virtual) global team together. If you get an opportunity to visit the Oceanário, the otters are truly amazing!

All of which brings me back to how quickly time is passing and how much we have to do. If you missed our 2023 Action Report, click here to see how we are collectively driving positive change.

Please MARK YOUR CALENDARS for SEPTEMBER 25TH in NEW YORK FOR THE NEXT ORRAA MEMBER MEETING. More info on this coming soon! We’re also looking forward to the upcoming Our Ocean Conference in Athens, Greece and the release of some fascinating information from work with Minderoo Foundation and Callund Consulting on developing a Blue Bond Incubator – and don’t forget to catch up on additional SCIFF (Sea Change Impact Financing Facility) updates at

In the meantime, take a deep breath, pour a cup of tea, grab a biscuit and read on!  

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

The ORRAA team at our annual meeting in Lisbon.

Monaco Blue Initiative (MBI), 17-18 March, Monaco 

Each year, invited representatives of governments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the scientific community come together under the leadership of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco to discuss and promote the protection of the marine environment.
This year marked the 15th anniversary of the MBI and saw a focus on lessons learned from ocean action over the past decade and a half, updates on key issues in play this year, and a focus on the Mediterranean. It also discussed how we can build a regenerative and sustainable blue economy. The meeting was also an important marker towards the Blue Economy and Finance Forum (BEFF), a special meeting to be hosted by Monaco in June 2025 immediately before the UN Ocean Conference in Nice. HSH Prince Albert II summarised the path forward as “reconciling nature’s imperatives with our needs.”

Karen Sack spent time in Monaco at the MBI and then working with colleagues on the BEFF. This included speaking at a special breakfast hosted by Monaco and France where the initial focus of the Forum was outlined, with partners from France, Palau, the Monaco Oceanographic Institute Prince Albert Foundation, World Resources Institute and World Economic Forum. Look out for more events outlining the focus of the BEFF and seeking input in the weeks and months to come.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco giving a welcome address at Monaco Blue Initiative.


Economist Impact World Ocean Summit 2024, 11-13 March, Lisbon, Portugal 

ORRAA attended the eleventh annual Economist Impact World Ocean Summit in Lisbon. “How to” workshops were hosted by ORRAA members Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank. Karen had the opportunity to represent ORRAA at these alongside Oliver Withers, Biodiversity Head at Standard Chartered, Kate Hansen Schweigart, Vice-president, innovative finance, Rare, Dennis Fritsch, PhD, Blue Economy Associate from the Minderoo Foundation and Markus H.-P. Müller from our lead global banking partner, Deutsche Bank. Chip Cunliffe, ORRAA’s Programme and Risk Director spoke during the plenary at a session, focusing on the Alliance’s Product Pipeline and the Coastal Risk Index.  

ORRAA Executive Director, Karen Sack (right side) speaking at a Standard Chartered “How to” workshop at the Economist Impact World Ocean Summit in Lisbon.

ORRAA Programme and Risk Director, Chip Cunliffe (far left) speaking on a panel entitled, ‘Developing blue nature-based projects’ at the Economist Impact World Ocean Summit in Lisbon.


Ocean Innovation Africa Summit, 20-22 February, Cape Town, South Africa 

In February, ORRAA was in Cape Town visiting our project partner and Earthshot Prize Finalist ABALOBI, before attending Ocean Innovation Africa.

Jack Stuart had the opportunity to visit ABALOBI’s offices with Dr Serge Raemaekers and his team alongside Earthshot CEO Hannah Jones. ABALOBI’s work has been supported through grants from ORRAA. We also nominated them for the 2023 Earthshot Prize where they featured as a finalist in the ‘Revive Our Oceans’ category. It’s always a pleasure to make a visit and see the positive impact they’re having on the ground. ABALOBI’s work is to build more resilient and sustainable small-scale fishing communities globally, through the application of data and technology for good.

Hannah’s keynote speech at the Innovation Africa Summit highlighted the fantastic work that ABALOBI does for small scale fisheries. In a fireside discussion, one of ORRAA’s Senior Advisers Torsten Thiele, alongside Dr Arthur Tuda and Dr. Nassim Oulmane, talked in depth about carbon and biodiversity metrics in the development of the sustainable blue economy.

ORRAA Senior Associate, Jack Stuart (centre) visiting ABALOBI’s fish processing site in South Africa.


New Team Members

ORRAA is growing! We are thrilled to announce that in the last quarter we have brought on Stephen Meyer as Chief Operating Officer, Norm Greene as our Deputy Chief Operating Officer focused on finance, Elise Hockley, our new Communications Director, Lindsay Wylie, a Senior Associate working with Karen on all things ORRAA, and Winnie Mwea new Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning lead. Welcome aboard all!

Stephen Meyer, Chief Operating Officer

Norm Greene, Deputy Chief Operating Officer

Elise Hockley, Communications Director

Lindsay Wylie, Senior Associate

Winnie Mwea, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning lead


The power and strength of our Alliance is our members.  We achieve more together than we do alone.

 At the end of last year and over the past quarter, ORRAA welcomed several new members. These include:

We’re also excited to welcome seven new Project Delivery Partners:  

Conservation International – High Quality Blue Carbon Practitioners Guide

Building out from a Solution Lab we convened last November, Conservation International and partners are now developing a Practitioners Guide for High-Quality Blue Carbon Projects which ORRAA is  supporting through the UK’s Blue Planet Fund.

As a complementary effort to the High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance launched in 2022, the guide outlines how to achieve high-quality blue carbon credit investments by emphasising the role of various stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, local residents, NGOs, project developers, potential buyers, and investors. Should you wish to learn more please see it here.  


WTW – Parametric Insurance policy in Fiji

WTW, a signatory to ORRAA’s  #BackBlue Finance Commitment, announced in February the placement of a new parametric insurance policy in Fiji that will help protect the coral reef system of the South Pacific Ocean’s volcano-formed Lau Group of islands, one of the most vulnerable and isolated places on Earth. This programme will allow pay-outs to be made in the immediate aftermath of extreme storms and help and effectively manage natural resources to ensure the resilience of the ecosystems themselves.


Rare launches the World’s First Small-Scale Fisheries Impact Bond

Rare recently unveiled a first-of-its-kind small-scale fisheries (SSF) Impact Bond, focused on increasing the sustainable, community-led management of coastal and marine resources, as well as improving the livelihoods and formalization of the small-scale fisheries sector. With ORRAA’s support through the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, this project aims to mobilise USD$3.6m in investment to unlock USD$9.7m in grant capital in its first cohort (2024-2025), support 70,000 people, and establish five Managed Access with Reserves (MA+Rs) areas in Sulawesi Indonesia – a system for artisanal fishers that balances sustainable use and protection through reserves.


Blue Alliance and UBS Optimus Foundation create partnership to transform marine conservation

Blue Alliance announced a partnership with the UBS Optimus Foundation, through their first marine-focused impact performance loan, empowering the Marine Protected Area network in the Philippines. The funding will allow Blue Alliance Philippines, to enhance the management and protection of coral reef ecosystems and develop sustainable revenue mechanisms for the MPA network through reef-positive businesses in responsible ecotourism, blue carbon credits from mangrove conservation, and community-based aquaculture projects, while increasing marine biodiversity and enhancing livelihoods.

Look out for our next quarterly ORRAA News to learn more about the in-kind projects that ORRAA’s members are bringing forward to build our collective product pipeline.

In 2024, ORRAA will be engaging in the following key fora and events to amplify the conversation and discuss solutions in the Ocean, finance, resilience, nature, and climate space.  

 Will your organisation be at any of these events over the next quarter or attending others? Reach out and let us know! In the meantime, join us at these side events:

During the 2024 UNESCO Ocean Decade meeting in Barcelona, Spain (10-12 April), ORRAA is hosting a side event on Blue Finance with the Grantham Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics on 12th April at 8:30am CEST. Please contact to RSVP.

During the World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C. (19-21 April) with USAID, ORRAA will be hosting a Blue Finance Deal Room event on 19th April to connect projects and investors and drive financing into the sustainable blue economy. Please click here for registration.

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 a call to catch up.
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