The Ocean Post – Editorial Oct-Dec 2021
Funding the Blue Bioeconomy
The oceans cover around 70% of our planet’s surface and alongside our soils, forests, sky, fauna and flora consist in the world’s stock of natural capital. The oceans also regulate climate and support vital ecosystems both in sea and land. They are undoubtedly a vital natural asset and an important source of goods and services but yet that asset is threatened by pressures related to the very human activities carried to take advantage of those goods and services, which threatens the planet and humanity survival. That threat encompasses a shift from the urgency of using the vast natural resources from the oceans – estimated in an annual economic value of around 2 trillion € – to a widely agreed concern of turning overuse of those resources into more sustainable practices, with the rise of the so-called Blue Economy which is increasingly attracting capital and policy as it places the ocean as one of the sources of opportunity and prosperity to tap.
Although a healthy ocean that supports a sustainable Blue Economy requires adequate financing vehicles that generate, invest, align, and more important, account, to achieve sustained ocean health and governance. In contrary, the rapid unsustainable growth that occurs nowadays might and will lead to environmental risks and losses in that natural capital, eroding the oceans’ resource base and creating civilizational risks, as well regulatory and market pressures. Within that shift comes the good news, too, namely that the financial system is finally waking up to the idea that its decisions have a sizeable impact on the health of the oceans. As the main financier of ocean-related sectors such as shipping, fishing, coastal tourism, biotech and renewable marine energy, among others; the responsibility of building sustainable blue finance practices into their decision-making processes brings a unique opportunity to steer oceans industries towards sustainability and in the long-run, keep taking advantage from that asset.
However, the current gap is large: the historical mismatch among nations, corporations and local communities’ objectives regarding ocean-related economic activity; or the current operational subsidies’ schemes that stimulate overexploitation; prevent the three main enabling conditions to the Blue Economy capacity: environmental sustainability, resource availability and economic viability. The latter nowadays lack mainly infrastructure and talent, significantly increasing financial risks to that sectors. Mitigating those risks would pass through the use of public funds: R&D and innovation incentives for science and business, in order to enhance technology adoption and attract talent that will boost private investment and make Blue Economy thrive.
Director of R&D Projects at Sonae MC
Vice-President of B2E CoLAB