New report unveils innovative approach to saving global oceans

14 Dec 2012

imagePhoto: A. Chetvergov / UNDP

As little as US$5 billion in public funds could catalyse action and financial flows to reverse ocean degradation, UNDP-GEF report says

Washington, D.C.— Concrete actions must begin now to mitigate or reverse grave threats to the world’s oceans, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) experts said today at the launch of a new report on how strengthened markets and policies can better protect oceans and coastal areas. The report shows how sustainable ocean management could become a legacy of today’s decision-makers if proven ocean planning and policy instruments are scaled up.

“It is very reassuring to learn from this report that an initial public investment on the order of $5 billion over the next 10 to 20 years could be sufficient to catalyze many hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private finance,” said Dr. Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF.  “We now have the right tools to identify and remove those market and policy failures which have unfortunately sped up the degradation of marine environments.  Our goal is to help both the public and private sectors create clear incentives and policies which will serve to protect the world’s oceans,” she added.

The world’s oceans and coastal areas are the source of a variety of life-sustaining goods and services—including food, transport, oil and gas, tourism, and minerals.  Marine and coastal resources directly provide at least US$3 trillion annually in global economic output.

“Oceans are an integral part of life on earth, regulating our climate and producing oxygen for the planet, yet they are under serious threat due to pollution, over-exploitation, habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change,” said Andrew Hudson, Head of UNDP’s Water & Ocean Governance Programme. “We need to improve the way we manage the oceans, before the damage is irreversible,” he said, adding that ocean degradation threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, primarily in the world’s least developed countries.

Catalysing Ocean Finance: Transforming Markets to Restore & Protect the Global Ocean, issued jointly with the GEF, shows that the accelerating degradation of the marine environment stems primarily from market and policy failures, leading to the over-exploitation of fisheries, skyrocketing hypoxic (low oxygen) zones in coastal areas, continued introductions of destructive alien species, and increased ocean acidification. 

These market and policy failures have led both the private and public sectors to under-invest in environmental protection measures, such as wastewa­ter treatment and coastal habitat protection, and over-invest in activities detrimental to the marine environment, including over-fishing and chemically intensive agri­culture.

Over the last two decades, UNDP and the GEF have successfully developed a suite of ocean strategic planning tools that have proven successful at creating enabling policy environments to catalyse investment for restoring and protecting the marine environment. 

From reversing the Black Sea’s enormous ”dead zone” to reducing the risk from invasive species in ship ballast water, to moving forty percent of the world’s tuna fisheries in the Pacific towards sustainability, Catalysing Ocean Finance documents the tangible impacts of these instruments and approaches.   

Using 20 years of UNDP-GEF experience on costs and impacts of ocean protection efforts as proxies, the report estimates the costs of scaling up these tools at a global level to address key ocean threats comprehensively. Catalysing Ocean Finance demonstrates how a modest investment of public finance can scale up proven ocean planning and policy tools, leverage financial flows, transform ocean markets, and reverse the global decline in ocean health.

Contact Information

UNDP : Sarah Jackson-Han, Tel. : +1 202 674 7442; sarah.jackson-han@undp.org

GEF: John Diamond, Tel.: +1 202 458 795, jdiamond@thegef.org; or Christian Hofer
Tel.: +1 202 458 0936,
chofer@thegef.org