On March 8, 2018, at the World Ocean Summit taking place in Mexico, the European Commission launched in partnership with the European Investment Bank, the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and WWF, the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles.
“These are voluntary principles that will guide responsible investments to counter the many stresses that oceans are subject to, from overfishing and rising sea levels to plastic pollution. Earlier this year, the EU High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance had recommended in its final report that the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles be adopted and implemented by the finance community. As a result, initial commitments have already been made by Althelia Ecosphere, Aviva Investors, the BPCE Group, Seventure Partners, Willis Towers Watson and the World Bank. In signing up, investors and organisations commit to mainstream these principles in all new investment decisions.”
The launch is in line with the EU Commission’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan announced the previous day on March 8. The latter – among others – includes actions such as Incorporating sustainability in prudential requirements (the EC “will explore the feasibility of recalibrating capital requirements for banks (the so-called green supporting factor) for sustainable investments, when it is justified from a risk perspective, while ensuring that financial stability is safeguarded”) and “enhancing transparency in corporate reporting.”
According to OECD projections, by 2030, the ‘Blue Economy’ — defined as all economic sectors which have a direct or indirect link to the ocean — could outperform the growth of the global economy as a whole, both in terms of value added and employment. In the coming decade, marine energy, marine biotechnology, coastal tourism, transport and food production sectors could offer unprecedented development and investment opportunities. However, there is increasing evidence that losses in the ocean’s natural capital resulting from unsustainable economic activity is eroding the resource base on which such growth depends.
“We will make information available on our investments and their social, environmental and economic impacts (positive and negative), with due respect to confidentiality. We will endeavour to report on progress in terms of implementation of these Principles”
The 14 principles — listed below — include one specifically committing to “transparency”, a topic dear to Seafood Intelligence… Signatory parties also commit to taking a science-led and precautionary approach (“The precautionary principle will prevail, especially when scientific data is not available” […] “More broadly, we will endeavour to share scientific information and data on the marine environment.”).
The 14 Principles for Sustainable Ocean Finance can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/sites/maritimeaffairs/files/declaration-sustainable-blue-economy-finance-principles_en.pdf
Today (November 30, 2017), the High Level Group of the Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism has published (dated Nov. 29) a new 80-page scientific opinion on ‘Food from the Oceans’ titled “Food from the Oceans – How can more food and biomass be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits?”. The advisers were asked to look at how more food and biomass can be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits.
“The scientific evidence unambiguously points to sustainable “culture” and “capture” at lower trophic levels (i.e. levels in the ocean food web below the carnivore levels currently mostly exploited) as the way to bring about such an increase. Furthermore, the greatest and most feasible potential identified for expansion globally lies in mariculture (i.e. marine aquaculture) – notably of herbivore filter feeders (e.g. molluscs) for direct human consumption or, together with cultivated algae, as a more ecologically efficient source of feed for farmed marine carnivores (e.g. finfish, shrimp, etc.). At the same time, much still needs to be done to improve the management of capture fisheries in order to preserve this vital source of nutrition and livelihood for a significant proportion of the global population.”
The 80-page scientific opinion is available online here: http://ec.europa.eu/research/sam/pdf/sam_food-from-oceans_report.pdf