Today, Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and Barclays are pleased to announce a new three-year, £5 million partnership to promote a stable climate through marine conservation. The first initiative of its kind, it also marks a new era for BLUE as the charity turns ten years old on 30 July 2020. BLUE will be able to increase its ambition in securing world-class marine reserves, combating some of the worst examples of overfishing, proving the value of carbon-capturing marine habitats and restoring vast tracts of sea as part of a four-pronged joint programme.
The announcement forms part of Barclays’ wider plan to tackle climate change and supports BLUE’s ambition, now shared by the UK government and others, to protect at least 30 per cent of the ocean – the minimum amount recognised by scientists as essential to the recovery of ocean biodiversity and the maintenance of a stable climate – by 2030.
BLUE will use well-developed models of protection to expedite this “30 by 30” target, starting with the UK Overseas Territories. In Ascension, BLUE is working with NGO partners, the island’s Council and Conservation Team to create the biggest no-take marine protected area in the Atlantic, which will be supported by an endowment fund. Closer to home, BLUE’s Protection Programme, funded by Barclays, will take steps to strengthen marine protected areas and create new ones around the British Isles to safeguard important marine habitats.
In some areas, degradation of the ocean is already so far advanced that protecting what is left is not enough. BLUE’s Restoration Programme aims to build momentum towards widespread rewilding of UK seas, return European sturgeon to UK waters and prove the importance of “blue carbon” marine habitats that help to capture and store atmospheric carbon. In the Solent, BLUE will restore oyster beds and essential blue carbon habitats such as seagrass and saltmarsh. The programme will also collaborate with the expanding offshore windfarm industry to unite habitat creation with offshore wind installations.
In addition to seeking to protect 30 per cent of the world’s ocean, BLUE wants to see a dramatic improvement in the way the other 70 per cent is managed. The Sustainable Management Programme, funded by Barclays’ donation, will use a combination of bottom-up working examples and top-down policy engagement to target destructive fishing practices and encourage small-scale, sustainable fisheries. In addition to working with local communities to support sustainable fishing in areas such as Lyme Bay and Sussex, BLUE will also combat the industrial overfishing of globally important stocks such as tuna.
BLUE will use part of the funding provided by Barclays on its programme to better connect people with the sea, initially through the creation of a network of Marine Parks that have the potential to increase awareness and support for marine conservation and to bring economic uplift to deprived coastal communities. BLUE will also develop an ocean climate education platform to connect younger generations around the world with this critical issue.
Charles Clover, BLUE’s executive director, said: “BLUE’s vision of a healthy, abundant ocean full of life and free from overfishing, to promote a stable climate, is more urgent than ever before. The interplay between ocean biodiversity and climate is widely underappreciated, and many of our projects address these twin concerns. We will attain our vision considerably faster with partners like Barclays and are incredibly grateful to them for their support.”
Barclays has made a firm commitment to align its entire financing portfolio to the goals of the Paris Agreement, and has set an ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050. In addition to committing to play its part in combatting climate change, Barclays is significantly increasing its existing targets for green financing, investing in green innovation – and helping protect and sustain the world’s largest carbon sink – the ocean – through this partnership with BLUE.
Elsa Palanza, the Global Head of Sustainability and ESG at Barclays, said: “As a bank, if we are to take the climate crisis seriously, we must be responsible for our own financing activities, but we also have the opportunity to support and strengthen the natural ecosystems that are best positioned to regulate our climate, and provide critical resources for human health and livelihoods. We are delighted to have forged this unlikely and exciting partnership with BLUE to protect the ocean, which will support the health and resilience of the climate and all life on earth.”