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Oceans and fisheries

Sustainable ocean finance

Sustainable blue economy finance principles provide a framework for financing a sustainable ocean economy.


The largest ecosystem on earth, the ocean is the lung of the planet, providing the oxygen for every second breath we take. It provides the main food source for almost half of the world’s population and plays host to an estimated 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. Major industries such as shipping, fishing, aquaculture, and coastal tourism depend upon ocean health.

With an annual economic value estimated at USD$2.5 trillion, equivalent to the world’s 7th largest economy, the blue economy is increasingly attracting investors, insurers, banks, and policymakers as a new source of prosperity. A rapid and unsustainable growth, however, can lead to environmental risks and losses in natural capital, eroding the ocean’s resource base and creating regulatory, market and physical threats. The finance and investment community has a strong role to play in driving sustainable investment, but needs guidance on how to act in a complex environment which intrinsically carries significant business risk.


The sustainable blue economy finance principles

To guide banks, insurers and investors in this crucial role, the sustainable blue economy finance principles provide a framework for financing a sustainable ocean economy. They were developed by the European Commission, the WWF, the World Resources Institute and the European Investment Bank in 2017. In 2018, the final report of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance recommended their adoption and implementation by the finance community.

These principles, elaborated in consultation with private and public financial institutions, intend to

  • promote the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 14 (Life below water)
  • set out ocean-specific standards while avoiding to duplicate existing frameworks for responsible investment
  • comply with IFC Performance Standards and EIB Environmental and Social Principles and Standards.

Our ambition

Our aim is to build an international coalition of financial institutions which endorse the sustainable blue economy finance principles on a voluntary basis, apply them to their investment decisions and thereby show their support for healthy oceans and for the development of a sustainable blue economy.

Hosting the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

With funding from the European Commission, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) hosts the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative.

We invite financial institutions and organisations to join this leadership initiative and help shape the future of the industry. We work to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable use of the world’s ocean, seas and marine resources by developing practical actions and outputs for insurers, lenders and investors.

By joining, you will have access to a global community of practice, peer-to-peer learning, blue finance resources and knowledge base, and help shape guidance to deliver a sustainable blue ocean economy. We will help you find cutting edge new solutions, amplify success, and catalyse change, with a dissemination power at a global level.


Read the latest news on sustainable ocean economy.