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Mangroves Orpheus Island Australia Credit Matt Curnock Ocean Image Bank
Mangroves, Orpheus Island, Australia. Credit: Matt Curnock / Ocean Image Bank

The ORRAA News – Q4 2023

19 December 2023 – Updated

Dear ORRAA members and friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of The ORRAA News.

COP28 came to a close last week. ORRAA had a team on the ground in Dubai and it was a pleasure to see and work with so many of our members while we were there. The presence and engagement of the financial sector was particularly noticeable in what has otherwise been described as the ‘trade fair’ environment of the Expo Centre.

While governments reached a final agreement, after 30 years of COPs, their agreed words are quickly being overtaken by the floods, fires and storms being experienced around the world as the climate and biodiversity crises manifest. Existing and emerging science is clear: we need to move so much further faster. The message to negotiators from across the Blue Zone was clear too: the phase-out of fossil fuels, the fundamental role of nature (including recognition of the critical role of the Ocean), and significant additional finance, are essential to achieving the Paris 1.5° target. This trifecta must be the focus of concerted action moving forward.

The reaction of Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Country leaders express some of the high levels of frustration at the outcomes:  

Samoa representative Anne Rasmussen on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States said: “We have come to the conclusion that the course correction that is needed has not been secured. We have made an incremental advancement over business as usual, when what we really need is an exponential step change in our actions.”

Senegal’s climate minister, Madeleine Diouf, on behalf of the bloc of Least Developed Countries said: The agreement “highlights the vast gap between developing country needs and the finance available, as well as underscoring rapidly dwindling fiscal space due to the debt crisis. Yet it fails to deliver a credible response to this challenge.”

Despite these immense challenges and frustrations, the margins of the COP saw growing support for the Ocean Breakthroughs – with 21 countries joining the Mangrove Breakthrough which ORRAA has been engaged with since inception. We also made some key announcements during the COP, aligning with the Alliance’s three-prong strategy of building from the ground up, tackling the “missing middle” and delivering a Sea Change from the top down, to channel our combined energies towards where we can have an impact and deliver implemented outcomes.

  • We announced, with the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, twelve new supported projects in the Global South, each of which will receive up to USD$500,000 to either pilot or scale finance or insurance products.
  • We have been selected as the anchor partner for USAIDs Coastal Resilience, Carbon, and Conservation Finance initiative (3CF) which encourages the flow of private sector capital into coastal resilience and blue carbon projects.

Through the Sea Change Impact Financing Facility:

  • We are developing an “Octopus Desk” – a blue marketplace platform connecting eligible blue resilience project developers with investment partners seeking environmental, social and financial returns. It is currently in development, with the latest phase being undertaken with ORRAA member Investable Oceans;  
  • We have completed the scoping of an Ocean Guarantee Company and our partner, the Development Guarantee Group is moving forward to establish the Nautilus Ocean Guarantee Company, a protective shell to de-risk sustainable blue economy investments through guarantees; and,
  • The Outrigger Ocean Impact Fund, which is designed to tackle the ‘missing middle’ USD$1-10m ticket size financing gap for SMEs in SIDS, is now in the establishment phase, working towards a first close and is currently engaging with cornerstone investors.  

And last but certainly not least Deutsche Bank, which has EUR€1,407 billion of assets under management, became the first bank to endorse ORRAA’s #BackBlue Ocean Finance Commitment which ensures a sustainable and regenerating Ocean has a seat at the table in finance and insurance decisions.  I wanted to pay particular recognition to the efforts of leaders within Deutsche Bank, including Claudio de Sanctis and Markus Müller for their personal efforts and the intensive process undertaken for the bank to join this commitment. Deutsche Bank joins AXAWTW and Palladium

Our work as an Alliance would not be possible without the engagement and partnership of our members. As we look back at 2023, we would like to appreciate and thank all our members and everyone that we’ve collaborated with to deliver ambitious discussions at COP and other Ocean finance fora, to surface and implement new projects and solutions, and to work together to build resilient coastal communities and support a regenerating Ocean.

We look forward to continuing to engage with all of you in 2024 to accelerate this work. We wish you all a joyful and festive end to 2023, and regenerative and peaceful 2024!

ORRAA will be “going to the beach” (that is our offices will be closed) from 25 December 2023 – 1 January 2024. We look forward to ramping up our action and impact again with all of you in 2024.

Karen & the ORRAA team  

Pictured above HM King Charles III, talking with ORRAA Executive Director, Karen Sack, and others at COP28.

Pictured above The High-Level Climate Champions event at COP28.

Pictured above ORRAA Programme and Risk Director, Chip Cunliffe (left) shaking hands with UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP at COP28.

Pictured above Ariane Steins-Meier, ORRAA Innovation and Scaling Director (centre) at the Rare/ORRAA side event during COP28.

Earthshot Prize – Singapore

The 2023 Earthshot Prize in November celebrated the fantastic 15 finalists, including an ORRAA supported project and an organisation that we nominated for the prize – ABALOBI. Based in South Africa, it is working to build more resilient and sustainable small-scale fishing communities globally, through the application of data. ABALOBI’s ‘Fish With A Story’ service combined with a smartphone app provides customers with premium quality, local seafood, harvested and produced responsibly by small-scale fishers using low-impact fishing methods that is fully traceable. ORRAA is supporting their work to build financial products into their app to enable savings accounts and loans for the fishers.

We first started working with ABALOBI through our Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC), then they ‘graduated’ to receive grant funding through ORRAA from Canada, and we then nominated them for the 2023 Earthshot Prize.

ABALOBI, was one of three finalists in the Reviving Our Oceans category, alongside Rare’s Coastal 500 network and the winner this year: the WildAid Marine Program. Congratulations to all the finalists on this huge achievement. ORRAA has been and continues to be excited to be a part of ABALOBI’s journey. Read about ABALOBI’s experience through Earthshot here.

We are now busy working on Earthshot 2024 nominees, so watch this space!

Pictured above Dr. Serge Raemaekers, Founder & Director, ABALOBI.

Investor Forum

Earlier this autumn, in September, ORRAA hosted an Investor Forum in New York City, where potential investors met with innovative entrepreneurs from the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC). More than 60 people attended to hear about innovative financial products that aim to create more resilient coastal communities, with 10 exciting pitches asking for a total of USD$12m to take their work to the next level. The forum was made possible, thanks to support from Swiss Re, the Government of Canada, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, and the United States Department of State. Now, a detailed report on the Investor Forum is available online here.    

While we reported on the event in our September edition of The ORRAA News, you can now watch a video from the event here.      

Solution Labs

ORRAA’s Solution Labs bring together members, partners and stakeholders to problem solve and innovate to accelerate our work.

  • Swiss Re x Iberostar x Reefy Solution Lab: Risk Management and Nature-based Solutions – October This Solution Lab brought together 30 experts from across insurance, the tourism sector, academia, and civil society to workshop how the benefits of nature can be incorporated into risk management. The Lab focused on practical application, insurance pricing considerations, measuring risk reduction benefits of nature, and the investment journey for companies implementing Nature-based Solutions.  
  • High-Quality Blue Carbon Solution Lab – November   ORRAA with partners Salesforce, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Friends of Ocean Action, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and Meridian Institute, developed the High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance which was launched at COP 27 in November 2022.      

Exactly a year later, ORRAA hosted a Solution Lab to further share, understand and address barriers to the adoption of the High-Quality Principles and Guidance in blue carbon projects. With speakers from both the project development and investment sides, the Lab highlighted case studies that exemplify the challenges and opportunities inherent in developing high-quality blue carbon projects and coordinating efforts across the supply chain.  We are also excited that one of the new projects being supported by the Blue Planet Fund is the development of a Practitioner’s Guide for the applications of the Principles and Guidance. Its development is being led by Conservation International.

Should your organisation wish to get involved in applying the Principles or shaping the new Guide, please sign up here.  

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) Impact Forum, October, Copenhagen  

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) Forum brings together more than a thousand impact investors from around the world and invited Karen Sack to speak at a plenary session on the Sustainable Blue Economy along with Philippe Cousteau Jr, and Ted Janulis (Investable Oceans and ORRAA board member) highlighting the urgent need for investment to build coastal and Ocean resilience.

The panel event was introduced by Sir Richard Branson, a dedicated advocate for Ocean and coastal risk and resilience. The key question Sir Richard posed was “How do we invest for both financial return and positive impact?” He said: “The answer lies in the Earth’s most valuable but under-appreciated asset, our magnificent Ocean. When we support projects that boost Ocean health and resilience, we’re also supporting local economies and industries. We’re feeding innovation and driving growth. We’re building a sustainable future that’s not just environmentally sound, but also delivers financial returns, and that’s where ORRAA comes into play!”    

WATCH the introductory video featuring Sir Richard here.      

Thank you to GIIN for the opportunity to bring the Ocean “into the room” on impact investing.  

Pictured above video message from Sir Richard Branson at GIIN.

Pictured above ORRAA Executive Director, Karen Sack, (centre), on stage speaking at GIIN.  To Karen’s left is Ted Janulis, Founder of Investable Oceans and a member of ORRAA Inc.’s board of directors. To Karen’s right is Philippe Cousteau, Filmmaker. Explorer. Ocean Restorationist and Impact Entrepreneur.

1. Race to Resilience Second Progress Report. ORRAA is a proud member of the Race to Resilience and contributes to their goal to build the resilience of 4 billion people by 2030. In their 2023 Progress Report, Race to Resilience highlights work underway by members, including ORRAA, to build resilience in vulnerable communities around the world.    

2. Building resilience in Asia: insurance initiatives across the region. The Insurer examines some of the initiatives implemented across the Asia Pacific region to improve access to insurance against natural catastrophes, highlighting ORRAA member WTW and their work on innovative parametric insurance, The Insurer. 31 October 2023    

3. Pilot users tout value of innovative vessel history tool across sectors. In this blog by Global Fishing Watch, learn more about our work with them on pilot testing the innovative Vessel Viewer tool with insurers to help deter illegal fishing. Vessel Viewer was piloted by 16 insurance companies and has now been released for commercial use. 26 October 2023.

4. Strengthening the Front Lines in the Fight Against Climate Change: A Call for Investment in Coastal Communities’ Resilience. In this article written by ORRAA member Palladium, they highlight the importance of investing in community-led projects to build coastal resilience. 18 September 2023.

5. WWF urges insurance companies to take responsibility for their underwriting business. In a ground-breaking report with Deloitte, WWF highlights the historical impact of insurance exacerbating biodiversity loss and examines how insurers are reversing this trend through a new approach to underwriting. 13 September 2023.    

6. Commonwealth Secretariat and Stimson Center extend ground-breaking climate assessment to Dominica and Mauritius. Read more about this innovative project led by two ORRAA members to develop a new rapid assessment protocol for assessing climate risks in coastal communities. 14 August 2023.

7. Karen Sack on our duties to the Ocean. In this interview, Karen discusses why investment into Small Island Developing States for coastal resilience is key to regenerating the Ocean, Lux Magazine, Summer 2023 edition.  

In 2024, ORRAA will be engaging in the following key fora and events in Q1 and Q2 2024 to follow the conversation on Ocean, resilience, nature, and climate:

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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