The European Investment Bank and WWF hosted a conference in the margins of the 2021 virtual Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund to discuss how to enhance financing for the sustainable blue economy. The event focused on the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles and newly launched supporting guidance Turning the tide: how to finance a sustainable ocean recovery which provide a practical toolkit for financial institutions to lead a sustainable ocean recovery.

EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix kicked off the event, moderated by EIB Director Werner Schmidt, by reminding the importance of oceans for climate action and stressed the challenges threatening them. To ensure that ocean-related investments are sustainable, multilateral action and individual efforts are essential, he said.

EIB Vice-President Mourinho Félix highlighted the leading role that the EIB played in the launch of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles and the bank’s ambition to support clean and sustainable ocean. Through its Blue Sustainable Ocean Strategy, the EIB committed to double its lending to sustainable ocean projects to €2.5 billion over the period 2019-2023 and expects to mobilise at least €5 billion of investments that will contribute to improve the health of the oceans and their resources.

Finally, he congratulated Portugal, represented by Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of the Sea Republic of Portugal, for endorsing the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles and welcomed the EBRD and the Asian Development Bank as recent signatories of the Principles.

In his keynote address, Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, highlighted the urgent need for ambitious transformative action to move to a net zero economy by 2050 and for increased investment in nature based solutions. He also encouraged governments and financial institutions to adopt the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles.

The event was followed by a high-level expert panel moderated by Margaret Kuhlow, Global Finance Practice Leader at WWF, which gathered Eric Usher, Head of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, Karin Kemper, the Global Director for Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy at the World Bank, Adonai Herrera-Martinez, Environmental Funds Director at EBRD and Bernhard Fries, Director for Maritime Policy and the Blue Economy at the European Commission.

With over 50 members and signatories and representing over US$6.9 trillion in total assets, the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles are the foundational keystone to invest in the ocean economy. Launched in 2018, they are the world’s first global guiding framework for banks, insurers and investors to finance a sustainable blue economy. They promote the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 relating to Life Below Water, and set out ocean-specific standards, allowing the financial industry to mainstream sustainability of ocean-based sectors.

The EIB is one of the founding partners of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles, alongside the WWF, the European Commission and the World Resources Institute (WRI). The Principles are now hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

More information on EIB’s activities for Sustainable oceans and blue economy (eib.org)

Clean Oceans and the Blue Economy Overview 2021 (eib.org)