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Developing a robust marine natural capital market for the UK

January 31, 2024

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Blue carbon was brought to the forefront of climate change conversations at COP 26 in Glasgow when the UK Blue Carbon Forum was created. The forum was formed by several NGO partners (Blue Marine Foundation, WWF, The Wildlife Trusts) to address the important role of blue carbon in mitigating the current ecological and climate emergency. In support of the UK Blue Carbon Evidence Partnership, we are working to progress the evidence base on blue carbon habitats in UK waters and help understand the science needed to fill evidence gaps and develop new policy recommendations. 

Alongside supporting the growth and visibility of the blue carbon space, Blue Marine believe the UK has an opportunity to set the benchmark for establishing equitable, transparent and standardised markets for marine natural capital. We have collaborated with The Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland, Finance Earth and Pollination, with support from CVC Capital Partners and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, to develop a shared roadmap for establishing high-integrity marine natural capital markets in the UK. 

We know there is growing interest in developing natural capital markets that yield a flow of benefits to people, in marine and coastal environments, biodiversity and climate. It will not be possible to deliver on public targets for protection, restoration, and regeneration of coastal ecosystems without private investment.  

By developing a framework for high-integrity natural capital markets in the UK we can enable significant and consistent flows of money into projects where restoration supports communities and nature over a long period of time. 

In recent months, we have collaborated with partners on events focused on both blue carbon and marine natural capital markets. These have been used as an opportunity to build conversations between key stakeholders and grow consensus on the path forward. It has never been more important to invest time and resources into understanding our greatest natural assets. 

UK Blue Carbon Forum event 

On 18th October 2023 Blue Marine sponsored an event that brought together the UK Blue Carbon Forum along with the UK Blue Carbon Evidence Partnership and Scottish Blue Carbon Forum for the first time.  

The event, hosted in the Royal Geographical Society London, brought together members of the blue carbon community from across the country for a series of workshops and panels. Delegates discussed the recently published Evidence Needs Statement as well exploring key themes for the sector such as avenues to policy making, barriers to progress and defining priorities. 

The event opened with a keynote speech from Alicia Gibson, Director at Finance Earth, who touched on the importance of data and evidence in developing a high integrity blue carbon market. The importance of unlocking additional finance for marine ecosystem recovery was the topic of further conversations throughout the day. 

Photo caption: Alicia Gibson (Finance Earth) addresses delegates.

The group then heard introductory remarks from the Chairs from the Evidence Partnership (Prof. Graham Underwood) UK Blue Carbon Forum, (Emeritus Prof. Hilary Kennedy) and Scottish Blue Carbon Forum (Prof. Bill Austin) before partaking in a panel titled ‘What is next for the Evidence Needs Statement.’ Delegates had the opportunity to engage with members of the Blue Carbon Evidence Partnership and understand their key challenges for the sector.  

The afternoon session saw workshops to understand how the community can align across shared goals and overcome obstacles to achieving them.

Dan Crockett, Director of Ocean and Climate, Blue Marine Foundation, said ‘The ocean remains critically underfunded, and philanthropy alone simply will not change this picture. But in the marine natural capital space we suffer from a profound lack of clear data. We were delighted to bring together these important groups for the first time. The conversations highlight the need for open dialogue between NGOs, scientists and policy makers. We look forward to collaborating in future to deliver the science and policy recommendations needed to progress our common goals and unlock a new level of support for marine conservation and restoration.’

If you would like to become a member of the UK Blue Carbon Forum please email secretariat@ukbluecarbonforum.com

High-integrity marine natural capital workshops

Blue Marine have been collaborating with The Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland, with support from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to create a shared roadmap for establishing high-integrity marine natural capital markets in the UK.

As part of this work, Finance Earth, Pollination and the UK Seascape Restoration Research Network had the privilege of hosting two lively workshops in Cardiff and London. Stakeholders from a broad range of sectors gathered to consider the actions needed across policy, finance and science in order to unlock vital investment in the restoration, conservation and sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems.

Discussions covered key issues from Welsh and English contexts including devolved policy and legislation, the importance of community engagement and research challenges. Thank you to everyone who came for their valuable inputs.

If you would like to contribute to the final development of the roadmap, please email: hello@finance.earth

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