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Strengthening Ocean and Community Resilience to Climate Change

06/20 GIB Asset Management

Katherine Garrett-Cox, CEO of GIB Asset Management joined a panel of distinguished leaders to discuss ways to strengthen ocean and community resilience to climate change, as part of the Virtual Ocean Dialogues (1-5 June 2020).

Other panellists:

Karin Kemper, Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, The World Bank.

Jennifer Morris, Chief Executive Officer, The Nature Conservancy

Fiorenza Micheli, Co-Director, Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions

The session was moderated by Richard Black, the Director of Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. Opening remarks were provided by Carlos Alvardo Quesada, the President of Costa Rica, and closing the session was John Murton, the UK’s COP26 Envoy.

“The world has had a massive wake-up call from this crisis. It has made all of us think more about the health of people, but also our planet and our oceans.”

Katherine Garrett-Cox

The session opened with Carlos Alvardo Quesada setting out the importance of protecting and enhancing coastal resilience, and explaining the work being undertaken across Costa Rica to work towards a sustainable approach for ocean management. He emphasised Costa Rica’s commitment to a blue economy transformation – one where coastal communities, including women and the youth, share in the benefits of the transition to a sustainable approach to oceans.

Katherine began by highlighting that the finance community has made significant progress over the past 10-15 years in enabling sustainable development, in part driven by increasing investor demand for sustainable solutions. Increasingly, investors want to have both a financial return from their investment and a positive impact. She noted, that, to date however, there has been relatively little focus on sustainability issues relating specifically to oceans. For example, in a recent survey by Responsible Investor,[1] only 21% of impact investors said that they target SDG14 - Life Below Water. But she explained that there of signs of that changing, with nine out of ten institutional investors in the same survey saying that they were interested in investments related to the sustainable ocean economy.

Katherine noted that the Virtual Ocean dialogues had been helpful in raising awareness of the economic benefits of ocean activity and investment. Goods and services from the ocean amount to around USD 2.5 trillion each year, making the ocean the seventh-largest economy in the world in terms of gross domestic product. Indeed, a study by the OECD estimated the growth prospects of the Blue Economy to be twice that of the land-based economy over the next decade.[2]

In order to mobilise solutions, Katherine emphasised three key factors. First, the need for more data, which has already been a key enabler for investors with respect to climate change. Second, the importance of engagement – where finance providers work with investors, corporates and, most importantly, communities to drive lasting change. Finally, she explained the importance of finding ways to scale solutions and the critical role of multi-stakeholder engagements in enabling innovation. This latter point was picked up by other panellists, with the comparison highlighted between the green bond markets and the nascent equivalent for blue bonds. Further, the need to design blended capital solutions was highlighted, being honest where commercially-viable returns exist and where they do not.

“We need to put in place approaches for the benefit of future generations”

Katherine Garrett-Cox

A major theme of the panel was how to use the crisis as a spur to positive change – driving a Blue Recovery. Examples were given of designing crisis stimulus packages with green and blue priorities at their core. For example, a criterion for crisis loans being that recipients have committed to implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosures. However, it was important to recognise that loans extended to many would never be repaid and that high debt burdens at a country level would make wider fiscal action challenging.

A call for action was made for each of us to change our everyday lives in support of the Blue Recovery. Katherine highlighted that she was excited about the mainstreaming of blue issues.

The session closed with John Murton, UK COP26 Envoy. He emphasised the wide ambitions for COP26, encompassing ocean action as well as climate change and biodiversity.

GIB Asset management’s vision is to scale and mobilise significant capital in support of sustainable development.

“Whether it is green, oceans or air: we are so dependent on all of this for living”

Katherine Garrett-Cox

[1] https://www.esg-data.com/blue-economy

[2] The Ocean Economy in 2030. OECD, 2016

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