It is a great pleasure to join you here today for this Return on Ocean Investment Roundtable.
Healthy oceans, seas and coastal areas are vital for economic and societal well-being. To quote just one crucial statistic, they capture 90% of the excess heat generated by greenhouse gas emissions.
The impact of climate change and biodiversity loss, the rise of energy and food prices are hampering the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. A healthy ocean holds solutions to many of these challenges.
However, oceans are under threat. And that in turn endangers human health and local economies. According to the UNDP, the annual socioeconomic cost of ocean mismanagement is 1 trillion US dollars.
Global warming irreversibly changes the ocean and the cryosphere. It alters living conditions for ecosystems and people. Sea levels are projected to rise and the ocean to warm throughout the century, under any emission scenario.
We face an “Ocean Emergency,” and the tide must be turned. Of all the SDGs, number 14 (Life under Water) has received the least support.
Financial institutions must lead the way in investing in sustainable ocean economies for food or renewable energy. We must invest in more protection for the oceans by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. We must cut ocean pollution and build climate-resilient coastal infrastructure. Financial markets and institutions play a pivotal role as catalysts for private finance. The EIB supports a Sustainable Blue Economy through lending, advisory services, and key partnerships.
As the EU’s climate bank, we address the threat to marine and coastal ecosystems through our Climate Bank Roadmap, which recognises the role of oceans and the need for additional investment to treat increasing challenges such as pollution and loss of biodiversity. We support low-carbon marine solutions, coastal resilience to climate change, preservation and restoration of the ocean’s natural capital, and innovation, education and public research linked to the ocean. Since 2018 our sustainable blue economy lending amounts to €6.7 billion, sparking €23.8 billon of investments. We are also developing tailored financial offers targeting SMEs, key players in developing solutions for a sustainable blue economy and in driving innovation.
Dear colleagues and Friends,
Collaboration is key to changing the way humanity misuses the Ocean. In 2017, the EIB co-founded the Sustainable Blue Economy Financing Principleswith WWF, the European Commission, and the World Resources Institute. The Principles provided the first global framework to guide public and private sector financing of the ocean economy along the most sustainable development pathways. In 2018, we launched the Clean Oceans Initiative to fight ocean plastic pollution together with other European partners. In 2022, we doubled the Initiative’s objective to 4 billion euros. Earlier this month, we initiated with the Agence Française de Développement the Public Development Banks Call to Deliver Positive Action for the Ocean. This has been joined by eight public development banks. We will soon launch a new Blue Economy Partnership for the Mediterranean Sea, with the EBRD, the Union for the Mediterranean, and the European Commission.
In the build-up to the UN Ocean conference of 2025, the EIB is ready to play its part. Let’s work together for healthy oceans.