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Split shot of the oceans and some cliffs
Split shot of the sea and some cliffs

The rocky desert coastline of the northern Red Sea. Sea levels around the world are rising and coral is being bleached by acidification due to increasing CO2 levels

Amid much scepticism about whether the global climate summit COP28, taking place in Dubai over the next few weeks, will actually bear any positive results, there are rays of hope. Ted Janulis, investor, entrepreneur and founder of Investable Oceans, outlines the reasons he is feeling cheerful in the run-up to an event that needs to change the way we think about and deal with climate change

In just a few days, 70,000 people will convene in Dubai to attend COP28 (the 28th annual “Conference of the Parties”), where delegates from countries all around the world will discuss how to address the climate crisis. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – tasked with finding ways to reduce emissions – will track member states’ progress on emission reductions and negotiate further collective action, alongside business leaders, climate scientists, journalists, and others in attendance. Major topics will include how vulnerable communities can adapt to climate change and how to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

We’re at a critical juncture for our climate and oceans, so this COP is particularly important. While increased commitments provide grounds for some optimism, our oceans and climate face continuing serious challenges. We’re not on course to stay within the 1.5C increase above pre-industrial levels scientists warn is required to avoid serious environmental and human consequences, and in addition we’re falling far short of the $150 billion per year cited by recent research needed to achieve the goals of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water by 2030. The bottom line, as former president of Ireland Mary Robinson eloquently put it: “We cannot afford to have a bad COP”.

A camel walking by the sea

Desertification and coastal erosion are major issues facing the world

Despite these daunting circumstances, we’re looking forward to seeing oceans having a substantial presence at COP28. This is a continuation of a theme that has gained momentum throughout 2023: there is growing recognition that the oceans, the world’s largest carbon sink, will play a pivotal role in providing solutions for climate change.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This year’s Climate Week NYC in September was a clear demonstration of this progression, as the number of events, announcements and real outcomes increased substantially from previous years. Amy Novogratz, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Aqua-Spark, asserted that: “Climate Week is feeling very Blue this year, finally!”

External shot of an ocean pavilion

The Ocean Pavilion at the 2022 COP in Sharm el-Sheikh. The 2023 Pavilion features ten ocean themes

A substantial increase in investable opportunities has added to this marine momentum. At least 10 new blue economy dedicated funds have launched over the past year, bringing the total count to over 30. A major focus of these funds is how to measure the environmental impact of sustainable ocean investing. In other recent news, a variety of blue bonds have come to market that involve debt-for-nature swaps, sovereigns and corporations, and Rockefeller Capital Management and KraneShares now offer an ocean engagement themed Exchange-Traded Fund (KSEA).

On the investor side, oceans made their debut on the plenary stage at the GIIN’s annual conference in Copenhagen, where discussions covered the proverbial waterfront, from ecosystem conservation to coastal resilience to blended finance to nuclear sharks. We also saw increased interest in the ocean sector from “terrestrial” investors. For example, sustainable agriculture funds are beginning to look at aquaculture as an attractive adjacent opportunity to their core focus.

Coral reef under the sea

A towering Acropora coral, one of the hundreds of coral reef species that help support up to 25% of all marine life

The upcoming COP28 will seek to capitalise on this surge of ocean interest and activity. Notably, oceans will be included in the COP28 thematic programme for the first time, with a special focus on 9th December. Together with an array of ocean events, gatherings and presentations at different pavilions, this represents a substantial increase in the ocean’s presence in global climate conversations and solutions.

Read more: Baroness Scotland and Markus Müller: a call for action at COP28

One of the highlights of COP28 will be the return of the Ocean Pavilion, which will bring diverse stakeholders together in a dedicated space within COP’s “Blue Zone” for its second year. The organizing partners, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will lead 32 partners through two weeks of events. The Pavilion programming is structured by ten themes organised under three tracks: Changing Ocean, Climate Consequences, and Future Ocean.

A pod of dolphins swimming in the sea

A pod of charismatic dolphins swimming in the shallows. Overfishing and bycatch are major issues for our oceans

The Pavilion is meant to inspire ocean-focused solutions through 70+ panel sessions, meetings and in-depth discussions. We are particularly excited about the “Blue Economy and Finance” theme, which explores the role that finance can play in ensuring that the ocean can continue to protect and provide for human societies in the coming decades. For example, Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will moderate a panel, Frontloading Equity in Financing Coastal Climate Resilience, exploring questions such as: How can we scale climate finance to reduce climate risks, speed recoveries, and reap the benefits of resilience? And how can our quantification of the financial costs of climate change be redesigned to yield equitable outcomes?

Despite all the headwinds, we are hoping for positive progress over the next weeks in Dubai.

Ted Janulis is Founder & Principal, Investable Oceans

Co-written with Helena Janulis, Business Development and Special Projects, Investable Oceans

All photos by Morgan Bennett-Smith

Find out more: www.investableoceans.com

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Baby whales gathered together in the sea
Baby whales gathered together in the sea

Pilot whales in the Pelagos Sanctuary, which was co-created by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation

As awareness grows of the need for a sustainable blue economy and for ocean restoration around the world, LUX invites thought leaders and experts to nominate their choice of individuals, non-profits and financial and investment wizards, whose efforts are helping save the planet’s troubled waters
A woman holding a jacket over her shoulder

Nathalie Hilmi

Dr Nathalie Hilmi, Senior Researcher at the Scientific Centre of Monaco, nominates:

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
This international non-profit organisation is the only foundation in the world headed by a serving head of state. It was founded by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II in 2006 with the mission of protecting and advancing the health of our planet for future generations, with a focus on biodiversity, climate, renewable energy, oceans and water resources. In addition to funding hundreds of projects, the foundation has set up initiatives to be a driving force in these fields, operating in the Mediterranean Basin, the Polar regions and the least developed countries. It works with scientists, other NGOs and world leaders, and has branches in 11 countries.

fpa2.org

Meri Foundation
I like the work this non-profit foundation is doing for the planet and our environment, promoting scientific research and environmental education on ecosystems in Chile and around the word. It has a vision of inspiring communities to consider a sense of belonging in their ecosystem environment, promoting a society in harmony with the planet. Its philanthropic engagements are stunning.

fondacionmeri.cl

A man wearing glasses and a black suit with a white shirt

Marküs Muller

Markus Müller , Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Chief Investment Officer at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank, nominates:

Anna Katharina Meyer
Anna Katharina identifies global challenges and launches tangible initiatives, with a focus on sustainable finance and accounting, renewable energies and entrepreneurship. Describing herself as a founder, activist and scientist with heart and soul, she combines professional competences with scientific ones and is shaping discourse on a sustainable and inclusive future with expertise.

unitedsustainability.com

trees in a swamp

Heritiera fomes mangroves in Sundarbans, West Bengal, India. Sundarbans is a national park and biosphere reserve; carbon-storing, coast-protecting mangroves are an essential component of nature-based solutions

Rayne Sullivan
Co-Chair of the Youth Advisory Council at Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Rayne represented the US at the inaugural UN Youth4Climate summit in Milan in 2021, advocating for Hawai’i and Oceans. Rayne is also pursuing a JD programme at Stanford, with a focus on the nexus between climate science, responsible AI and traditional knowledge systems, to empower frontline island communities in developing nature-based climate solutions.

soalliance.org

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A woman wearing a necklace and black top

Marie Claire Daveu

Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International Institutional Affairs at Kering, nominates:

Conservation International
This NGO is a leader not only in its science-led work around the world, working on the ground to protect and restore nature, but also for its influence on global policies and within the business community. Its expertise when we set up the Regenerative Fund for Nature together was indispensable and its dedication to achieving a wide-scale impact on nature is to be applauded.

conservation.org

A man wearing a blue shirt holding fruit in his hand standing by a crate of fruit

Hugo Clément, from his docu-series, On the Front

Hugo Clément
The media has a significant role to rally awareness and support for the climate and biodiversity crises. French journalist Hugo Clément has brought these crises to the public through documentaries and investigative journalism, where his pursuit of the truth has uncovered corporate greenwashing. His long-time activism around animal rights has also brought this often overlooked topic into the spotlight. His dedication is far-reaching and he stands by his principles, which we need in our society today.

@hugoclementk

A man wearing a black top and blazer, with his arms folded

Chris Gorrell Barnes

Chris Gorrell Barnes, founding Partner of Ocean 14 capital and co-founder of Blue Marine Foundation, nominates:

Por el Mar
Martina Sasso, founder of this dynamic new Argentinian NGO, has used creativity and communications to advance a ban on open-net salmon farming in Argentina and delivered extraordinary wins by creating pivotal marine-protected areas in the region. I can see that Por el Mar will deliver outstanding conservation gains for the ocean in the next few years.

A penguin by the sea

Megallanic penguin at the Monte León National Park in Santa Cruz, part of a project supported by Por el Mar

porelmar.org

SyAqua
This, our first investment at Ocean 14, is a platform for our mission to transform shrimp farming. US and Asia-based SyAqua is a leading provider of genetics and tech in shrimp breeding. It provides farmers with virus-resilient broodstock, so reducing environmental externalities and make shrimp farming more sustainable.

syaqua.com

A man standing next to trees and grass wearing a suit

Christian Lim

Christian Lim, Managing Director of Blue Ocean, SWEN Capital Partners and Co-Chair of 1000 Ocean Startups, nominates:

Anne-Sophie Roux
Roux is a young but powerful voice in the global movement against reckless deep-sea mining. She and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance have been instrumental in changing the position of several governments, including in France and Switzerland. As founder and CEO of Paris-based Tenaka, she and her team have worked with partners to develop corporate responsibility programmes and nature-based solutions for ocean conservation.

people standing together weather pink t-shirts

Members of the Tanzanian Fisheries Research Institute being trained in environmental DNA collection for eBioAtlas, as devised by NatureMetrics

tenaka.org

Kat Bruce
In 2014, scientist Kat Bruce co-founded NatureMetrics, the world’s leading eDNA company. Its mission is to democratise measurement of biodiversity for different species through technology, to better align nature and markets. Disclosure: we have invested in NatureMetrics.

naturemetrics.com

A woman holding a microphone doing a presentation

Karen Sack

Karen Sack, Executive Director of Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, nominates:

Whitney Johnston
As the company’s first Director of Ocean Sustainability, Whitney leads Salesforce’s work on sourcing high quality blue-carbon offsets. Based in New Mexico and a climate scientist and oceanographer by training, she is a leader in developing high-quality blue-carbon principles and a key shaper of the Blue Carbon Buyers Alliance, companies committed to purchasing high-quality blue-carbon credits.

salesforce.com

small boats on the sand lined up next to eachother

Traditional line-fishing boats from the southernmost tip of Africa. The non-profit Abalobi supports small-scale sustainable fishing

Serge Raemaekers
Serge is co-founder of Abalobi, a South African non-profit aiming to elevate small-scale fisheries through technology, and empower them for social, economic and ecological sustainability. The name Abalobi means “fisher” in the isiXhosa language, reflecting its fisher-led nature. Abalobi has developed a digital platform connecting fishers directly with consumers, creating a more transparent and equitable value chain. Serge’s vision is to create thriving small-scale fisheries worldwide to feed the world sustainably, provide meaningful livelihoods and contribute to healthy ecosystems.

abalobi.org

A woman wearing a black top

Jessica Hodges

Jessica Hodges, Lead in Investment Management and Wealth ESG at Deloitte UK, nominates:

Net Purpose
Samantha Duncan’s London-based organisation is brilliant and was highly commended in the Finance for the Future Awards in 2021. It is a platform to facilitate impact measurement for investors and make it easy for people looking to invest, by collecting, cleaning and structuring data from thousands of global sources. This ensures a more transparent and rigorous approach to assessing the impact of portfolio companies.

netpurpose.com

A warehouse with good and machinery on the ground

LED lighting for a German warehouse, installed by UrbanVolt and financed by the Solas Sustainable Energy Fund

Solas Capital
Zurich-based Solas Capital is a specialist investment advisory firm founded and managed by Sebastian Carneiro and Paul Kearney, both professionals from the energy-efficiency financing sector. The company’s mission is to support the move to a carbon-neutral society through innovative financing. By understanding both the funding needs of energy-efficiency and self-consumption PV infrastructure projects, and the requirements of institutional investors, Solas Capital bridges the gap between investors and projects.

solas.capital

A woman giving a speech at a podium

Cathy Li

Cathy Li, UN Youth Advisor, nominates:

Klima Action Malaysia
This climate justice NGO was founded by youth activist friends of mine who work on the linkage between human rights and climate change. It promotes a rights-based approach to a just and equitable world and the climate emergency. KAMY works to empower vulnerable communities, including indigenous groups, women and youth, to participate in climate governance and decision-making.

klimaactionmalaysia.org

A woman with a fringe wearing glasses and a black shirt

Jennifer Morris

Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, nominates:

Vizzuality
Data is critical, but unless business leaders, policymakers and society understand it, its ability to drive change is limited. With offices in Cambridge, Madrid and Porto, Vizzuality is working on creating data visualisation and mapping tools. We need innovators like Vizzuality to help tackle the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and we’re excited to see how its work on projects like Trase, which maps global supply chains leading to deforestation, and Marxan, the open-source spatial-planning software, can lead us to a nature-positive, net-zero future.

vizzuality.com

A man wearing a suit and tie

Ted Janulis

Ted Janulis, founder and Principal of Investable Oceans, nominates:

Lea d’Auriol
Lea is founder and Executive Director of London-based Oceanic Global, and she and her team made World Ocean Day a
global phenomenon. Lea has pioneered new programmes and methods of engagement, including Oceanic Global’s Blue Standard, a set of tools to help businesses eliminate plastics. Lea also always reflects light on others to acknowledge their contributions.

oceanic.global

A man underwater wearing scuba diving equipment and a wetsuit, taking notes

Titouan Bernicot, founder of Coral Gardeners, monitoring the health of corals growing in the nurseries. Once mature, the corals will be planted back onto damaged reef to bring back life and biodiversity

Titouan Bernicot
Titouan, founder and CEO of Coral Gardeners in French Polynesia, was drawn to action by seeing coral bleaching as a teen surfer in Mo’orea. He has built a community-based organisation that has grown and planted over 30,000 corals in French Polynesia. Their new goal: engage the public to help plant a million corals, and develop tech to accelerate coral restoration around the globe.

coralgardeners.org

A bald man smiling wearing a suit and tie

Professor Connel Fullenkamp

Connel Fullenkamp, Professor of the Practice of Economics at Duke University, and co-founder of Blue Green Future, nominates:

Partanna
Cement production is a major emitter of carbon dioxide. While some firms are working on carbon-neutral cement products, California-based Partanna has developed a carbon-negative cement from brine – a desalination waste product – that captures carbon while it cures. This makes it possible to build homes in the developing world that generate carbon credits for their owners.

partanna.com

A house with a flat roof and sunshine around it

Rendering of a prototype home in the Bahamas made with Partanna’s carbon-negative cement

Belinda Bramley
Pivoting to environmental consulting from accounting, Belinda brings business sense and the ability to speak the language of companies and markets to a field that needs it. She can analyse the needs of a project, organise it and build the case for funding it. She currently supports Hinemoana Halo Ocean. I predict she will become the chief architect of many sustainability projects.

conservation.org/aotearoa/ hinemoana-halo

Read more: Rapha CEO Francois Convercey on diversity and sustainability in cycling

A man smiling wearing a white shirt and grey jacket

Dimitri Zhengelis

Dimitri Zenghelis, Special Advisor to the Wealth Economy project at the University of Cambridge, nominates:

Kingsmill Bond
I recommend energy strategist Kingsmill Bond for his work on low-carbon transition at the US-based Rocky Mountain Institute. He has always been ahead of the game in predicting the speed with which we will adopt renewables and other clean technologies.

rmi.org

A mosaic style painting in different shades of blue and red

Winds of Change, by Sarah Bond for Rocky Mountain Institute

A man wearing a white shirt, pocket handkerchief and a grey suit

Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, founder and CEO of Alta Capital, an award-winning sustainable real-estate developer based in Hong Kong, nominates:

Eric Ricaurte
Founder CEO of Greenview, Eric is a pioneer in sustainable hospitality, starting in South America more than 25 years ago and building Greenview into a leading consultancy. Through his leadership, he has engaged some of the largest hotel groups in the world.

greenview.sg

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A black and white image of huge waves about to crash into the sea
An underwater vortex of waves in the sea

Photo by Ben Thouard

Creating a sustainable blue economy – meaning we can invest in businesses directly related to the oceans while avoiding negative impact – is one of the most important tasks on humankind’s to-do list. Below, LUX speaks with Muriel Danis of Deutsche Bank about the challenges. Chris Stokel-Walker also speaks to entrepreneurs trying to make a positive impact in the ocean space

Muriel Danis on building investment opportunities in the sustainable blue economy

A woman wearing a white shirt

Muriel Danis

One of the challenges faced by investors interested in the sustainable blue economy is that it is an emerging landscape. “It’s a very nascent space,” says Muriel Danis, Global Head of Product Platforms and Sustainable Solutions at Deutsche Bank’s International Private Bank. “There are few products dedicated to the blue economy. What we see more often, especially in the private markets space, is a broader, impact approach to investing, with a sub-allocation for ocean-based investments.”

Danis is overhauling the products at Deutsche Bank by making sustainability a central part of the tenet. She is incorporating ESG qualitative and quantitative factors into the product development process to meet regulatory requirements and help identify “best in class” managers and solutions. That is easier said than done. Most liquid products available today focus primarily on what Danis calls a “do no harm approach”: they tend to exclude from investment portfolios any sectors or activities that have a materially negative impact on the oceans. However, in private markets there may be more product opportunities able to deliver material and measurable positive outcomes. “We are seeing a number of VC funds that are directly investing in technologies and capabilities that protect marine biodiversity,” says Danis. “By targeting overfishing, ocean pollution and climate change, they are supporting a sustainable blue economy.”

A black and white image of huge waves about to crash into the sea

Photo by Ben Thouard

“We think this will be an expanding universe,” adds Danis. That’s partly driven by investor demand, and partly by increased policy action. A good example is the recent UN High Seas Treaty, which aims to place 30 per cent of the seas into protected areas by 2030. This will support increased finance flows into sectors of the sustainable blue economy impacted by the 30 x 30 agreement. “As the market becomes more mature,” says Danis, “we will see more need for financing to support the transition of business models to what I would call a blue or green model.”

Danis is spearheading that transition by making connections to blue economy pioneers. One such opportunity was the DB x ORRAA Ocean Conference hosted in 2022 in Mallorca. In the first conference of its kind, Deutsche Bank invited a range of companies and their founders, including some of those featured below, to demystify the sustainable blue economy and show how private capital can help achieve positive ocean impact at scale.

Entrepreneurs on creating businesses for the good of the oceans

A new generation of individuals are setting up companies worldwide to radically overhaul how we interact with our oceans, and help save our planet while building a sustainable economy

A woman wearing a black top and glasses

Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz

Replacing ship engines with sails
Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz
Co-founder, bound4blue, Barcelona

Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz always wanted to be a doctor. “I thought the only way to do good in theworld was to save lives,” she says. But a chance conversation with a teacher who suggested engineering changed her path.

Muñoz became an aeronautical engineer, working on planes and space shuttles before pivoting to the maritime industry. That aerodynamic expertise helped when she launched bound4blue with her co-founders. The challenge was to overcome the shipping industry’s fuel-consumption problem – shipping alone accounts for 2.5 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

“I think engineering can help solve today’s hardest problems, make sustainability profitable and be something that can be developed and implemented,” says Muñoz. The company has developed a wind-propelled eSAIL that can reduce emissions by up to 40 per cent, and which it has tested on three ships. “The intention is for around 80 per cent of the global fleet to benefit from this type of solution,” she says.

bound4blue.com

Marine-friendly robotics
Liane Thompson
Co-founder, Aquaai, California and Norway

A woman with long wavy hair

Liane Thompson

As a journalist for The New York Times, Liane Thompson used to travel the world. Once, while she was in South Africa, she reported on an entrepreneur called Simeon Pieterkosky. Little did she know then that she would reconnect with Pieterkosky around a decade later in 2014 to develop Aquaai.

The husband-and-wife’s marine-robotics company builds affordable Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), which it calls Nammu. These are shaped like fish and are used to gather environmental data deep underwater, without intruding on the marine life living there. The AUVs are 3D printed and come installed with off-the-shelf cameras and sensors – deliberately so, says Thompson, so that people can build their own in communities that need them most.

And that need is ever increasing, says Thompson, “given superstorms, floods, the proteins and food sources coming out of underwater farming, and the need to protect marine habitats and corals.”

aquaai.com

Biodiversity-friendly coastal concrete
Ido Sella
Co-founder, ECOncrete, Tel Aviv

A bald man wearing a white shirt

Ido Sella

Marine biologist Dr Ido Sella has been fixated on the impact of coastal construction on the marine environment for more than 20 years. His bugbear? Concrete, as it doesn’t support the same biodiversity as other substrates. In an ideal world, natural reef would mark out ports and create promontories – but that won’t happen. So Sella worked to develop a material that would be better than the concrete used in 70 per cent of coastal infrastructure.

And so, in 2012, ECOncrete was born. A decade ago, the company started experimenting in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The findings were shocking: the mix itself was an issue, as was the surface and the structural strength. ECOncrete solves all three problems: its Admix can be added to regular concrete to provide a better chemical balance for marine life, its texture agents help marine life cling to the structures and their moulds help create ecological niches and strengthen the structures.

ECOncrete is now used in breakwaters and ports globally. “There is a real drive from the industry to look for these solutions,” says Sella.

econcretetech.com

The curve of a wave and the blue sky

Photo by Ben Thouard

Large-scale coral regrowth
Sam Teicher
Co-founder, Coral Vita, Freeport

A man with a beard wearing a white t-shirt and shirt

Sam Teicher

At the age of 13, Sam Teicher gained a scuba- diving certification. “I’ve loved the ocean and nature my whole life,” he says. “As a kid from Washington D.C., I grew up imagining I was going to become a coral farmer.” Teicher studied the environment and climate change in college, then grad school. It was through working at a friend’s NGO between courses that he was first introduced to coral restoration – and it became his life’s work.

Coral Vita, the company Teicher co-founded in 2019, grows coral 50 times faster than it would grow in nature – so it can be replenished as modern life diminishes our reserves of the natural resource. Started with a $1,000 grant from Yale, where Teicher and his co-founder met, Coral Vita is now behind the world’s first commercial land-based coral-reef farm, in Freeport, Grand Bahama, where the coral grown is being used to replenish the reef. In 2021, the company won Prince William’s inaugural Revive Our Oceans Earthshot Prize. “We hope to kick-start the whole restoration economy,” says Teicher.

coralvita.co

Biodegradable packaging and materials
Jack Sieff
Corporate Development Manager, Polymateria, London

A man sitting down with his hands on this lap wearing a suit

Jack Sieff

Plastic waste is a major problem for the world’s oceans, strangling marine life and jeopardising biodiversity systems. There is now an estimated 30 million tonnes of plastic waste in the world’s sea and oceans.

Founded in 2015 by Jack Sieff’s father Jonathan, Polymateria has developed biodegradable alternatives to plastic. In 2020, Polymateria reached a major milestone, achieving certified biodegradation of the most commonly littered forms of plastic packaging in real-world conditions, all without creating the harmful microplastics the world is seeking to avoid. “Since the launch of that standard, we’ve seen a domino effect,” Sieff says, as many countries are adopting similar standards.

Polymateria’s biodegradable materials are now utilised in items such as masks and wipes, along with other uses. The company raised £15 million in its Series-A funding before the pandemic hit, and is about to close out a Series-B round, bringing in a further £20 million.

polymateria.com

Autonomous sailing fleet that creates power
Ben Medland
Founder, DRIFT Energy, London

A man wearing a back suit and white shirt

Ben Medland

Engineer Ben Medland didn’t know how to answer when his eight-year-old son asked him, “Daddy, why is the climate broken? And how can we fix it?” Medland’s son had been reading about a recent COP conference, and had noticed that the nearby wind farm just wasn’t moving. What could be done? Medland vowed to try to change things by turning the 70 per cent of the planet that traditional renewables don’t reach – the world’s oceans – into an energy source. He admits that it is a “crazy” idea, but it is one that works.

DRIFT, founded in 2021, creates sailboats, augmented with turbines, which will go through the water, guided by AI to inform them of the most beneficial route to pick up power. The tides themselves generate energy into the turbine, which is stored onboard as green hydrogen using a process called electrolysis.

Better yet, that onboard green energy can then be used wherever the sailboats end up docking – bringing green energy to the parts of the world that need it the most.

drift.energy

This article was first published in the Deustche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 8 min

Photo by Tim Marshall

Ahead of World Ocean Day, LUX speaks to Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, about his work on the Anthropocene, the blue acceleration, and why saving our oceans must be a collaborative effort
boy in a grey polo neck

Jean-Baptiste Jouffray

LUX: The use of the word Anthropocene has only become widespread in the scientific community fairly recently, but it’s now a key focus of your work. Why is this terminology important?
Jean Baptiste Jouffray: The Anthropocene is often described as this new period or epoch or era where humans have become a dominant force of planetary change, with profound impact on, not just the climate system, but also all sorts of ecosystems and the functioning of the earth’s system. It’s essential to my work as an analytical framework. It’s more than just entering a discussion about whether it’s a geological epoch, which means agreeing when it starts exactly. Does it start after WW2 when we start using radioactivity? Does it start exactly 2000 years ago? Does it start 10,000 years ago when we started to have agriculture and other things? I think it is more important to use it as an analytical framework, rather than focusing on those types of questions. It’s often characterised by unprecedented speed, scale and connectivity across sectors, across people, across regions, across socioeconomic contexts. What do these things mean? How do we make sure we move forward in a more sustainable and equitable way? I think that’s the power of the Anthropocene, in my work at least. Others focus more on the geological aspect of it and the question of whether it is the next geological era after the Holocene or not.

LUX: You say that in your work you use inter- and transdisciplinary approaches, which is a method which is becoming more prevalent across STEM fields. Would you say that this is particularly important when researching sustainability?
JJ: Absolutely. That’s because I think sustainability is a different kind of science. It has been described as a science for which the real test of success will be implementing its knowledge to solve the big societal challenges. So, in that sense, I think sustainability science is about translating knowledge into action. It’s not just about creating knowledge for the sake of it, but really creating knowledge, and ideally co-creating knowledge amongst multiple stakeholders to solve the problems we’re facing. Sustainable science is often said to be problem-driven and solution-oriented, and in that sense you need more than just one discipline. You have to synthesise knowledge across academic disciplines.

Beyond academia, you also need to engage with different societal actors, be it governments, NGOs or the private sector, for instance. It’s true that the coproduction of knowledge should also lead to co-operation in the designing of solutions and their implementation. If it’s just a top down thing, scientists in their ivory tower and the rest of the world, it’s not going to work.

Photo by Ivan Bandura

Photo by Ivan bandura

LUX: You have been involved with SeaBOS, the organisation involved in creating a dialogue between corporations and experts in sustainability. Obviously businesses are becoming more engaged with science, but how are they really doing this and do you think we have a long way to go?
JJ: Yes we do. But it’s good that we have started somewhere. I think SeaBOS is an example of what I just described, it’s scientists coming together with businesses and trying to co-produce knowledge, agreeing on what the challenges are and discussing what the possible solutions could be. It’s really that kind of science-business dialogue that has been a really fascinating experience. I think this is because, ultimately, it is a dance between those two entities; you have to compromise somewhere. For example, scientists usually like to see more results or ambitious time goals, and then the business side also have to deal with the reality of their own operations and what is feasible. You have to adapt to the other side, and this is a really exciting prospect.

We need collective and collaborative action across the whole supply chain. It’s not just miscellaneous companies and scientists: we need the financiers involved, we need governments to set up the right regulatory landscapes to incentivise better practices, and consumers need to be aware of it as well. So it is really that collective and collaborative approach that can accelerate sustainability.

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LUX: Is it realistic to expect consumers to understand the science and the environmental impacts behind their purchases? Do they need to?
JJ: They need to understand it in order to add another dimension of pressure in what I just described in terms of collaborative and collective action. I think consumers have a role to play, but whether they should have the sole responsibility, I don’t think so. In an ideal world, as a consumer you would enter a grocery store and only have sustainable products to choose from, you wouldn’t have to choose between a sustainable version and an unsustainable version, often with a price premium for the sustainable one, which brings more difficulties.

I think for this question it is a yes and no. Yes, they do have a role to play, and we’ve seen it in boycott or buycott campaigns which have had a really strong influence on industry. One of the most widespread mechanisms used by companies is certification or labelling of products, and we do see that it has an impact, but also limits. If you do a survey and show maybe half a dozen labels to a random, average consumer or customer in the grocery store, they will recognise some that do not exist. This was actually done in the context of seafood when consumers were presented with labels; they were recognising some of the legit ones as well as some that were totally made up.

Photo by Ivan Bandura

LUX: How do you see the relationship between science and governmental policy and what role do you think researchers should play in shaping policy and decisions?
JJ: Speaking from my own field of sustainability science  I think scientists have a really big role to play. This goes back to this example of staying in your ivory tower and publishing papers and then moving onto the next one, without really caring what happens next. I think that model of operating – again, for sustainability science, I want to make that distinction because I think there are a lot of applied or fundamental sciences that are different and that we need for the sake of them. But in the context of sustainability, it has to operate with the ambition to translate that knowledge into action, and that means communicating it to different stakeholders, like the private sector, but certainly to governments so that policy decisions are evidence based. That’s really what the IPCC is about in the context of climate change.

On the other hand, however, this doesn’t mean we always need to wait for science to act. I think there is a double-edged sword to big organisations like the IPCC, and that’s why several of the scientists who have been engaged for years in the IPCC and various reports, have publicly said this will be their last report. They will not contribute anymore because it gives the impression that we need to wait for the next report to have more information to act upon, when in fact we have all of the information we need to know in terms of the urgency of the situation and to know the solution to it, and therefore we need to act.

LUX: Can you explain what is meant by ‘blue acceleration’ and what this means for our oceans going forwards?
JJ: The term blue acceleration is something we coined very much in the spirit of the Great Acceleration idea and concept by Will Steffen, who recently passed away and was a giant of science. He used the term of the Great Acceleration to describe an exponential growth. The growth usually starts in the Industrial Revolution, but it really takes off in the mid-50s after WW2. You see across economic and socio environmental variables with population, GDP, deforestation, CO2 emissions across the board, you see that really rapid, exponential growth. Of course, it has its consequences, and it’s often one of the most iconic illustrations of the Anthropocene.

If we go back to the notion of the Anthropocene, how do you visualise, how do you embody the Anthropocene? It could be with those graphs of the Great Acceleration and our work focused on how that relates to the ocean specifically. If we take that lens and look at what happens in the ocean, it looks very similar. So that’s the interesting parallel, that’s why we called it the blue acceleration, because you see a rapid increase across a wide range of sectors. There are multiple increasing uses of the ocean for food, for energy, for materials, and for space as well.

If you look at marine aquaculture or agriculture for instance, it’s one of the fastest food production sectors in the world. If you look at shipping, the volume of goods transported by containers has quadrupled over the past 20 years and more than 1,000,000km of submarine cables have been laid on the sea bed. Undersea cables account for 99% of all international telecommunications that are happening in the world; it’s cheaper, more reliable, faster and safer than satellites.

Offshore wind is another example, one of the most promising marine renewable energies and the only one so far to have been scaled up commercially. It has increased 500 fold in the past 20 years. What the blue acceleration is, in essence, is a new phase of humanity’s relationship with the ocean that is characterised by this rapid increase at the onset of the 21st century, so very recently.

Photo by Danny Copeland

LUX: Can you tell us about the Ocean 100 project?
JJ: The Ocean 100 really speaks to the blue acceleration. If you acknowledge that acceleration and that growth across all sectors, you see that there is a scramble for the sea. Then the question is, who is racing? Or, if you look at it another way, who is left behind?

The Ocean 100 is looking at the big companies, particularly in the private sector, who are involved in ocean based industries. What you see is that a handful of companies often control a really large market share of the sector. For instance, the top ten oil and gas companies in terms of offshore production are responsible for more than half of total offshore production. If you look at the 10 largest companies in cruise tourism, they are 93% of the global market share, so really highly concentrated in terms of revenues. We look at those companies within sectors, and we look at it across sectors just by revenues, to see who are the largest of the largest across ocean industries. That’s the Ocean 100. The 100 largest companies by revenues.

What’s striking is that 47 out of the 100 are oil and gas companies, and 9 of the top 10. It’s a reality check because there is a mismatch between the aspiration of a blue economy, a sustainable and equitable ocean economy, and the reality of today’s extraction where oil and gas is by far the largest industry in the ocean today. The project identified who they were and in a subsequent effort, tried to engage in dialogue. So similar to what SeaBOS has managed to do within the seafood industry, they engaged in dialogue with some of those industries to see what they could do together across industries that they couldn’t do alone within their own sector.

Read more: Markus Müller on the links between the ocean and the economy

LUX: You recently completed your PhD. What is next for you?
JJ: I’ll keep doing it, I’ll keep going at it! I’m just starting a position at the Stanford Center for Ocean Solution, whose mission is to translate knowledge into impact across a series of initiatives. I’m very keen to keep looking at the ocean economy and trying to look at how we make sure it becomes a blue economy. It’s often used synonymously; people think of the blue economy as the ocean economy. I like to make a distinction. The blue economy right now is very aspirational, it would be a sustainable and equitable version of the ocean economy. But the reality that we’re dealing with today is very much a dark blue ocean economy.

I will be looking at the ocean economy, trying to make sense of it, increasing transparency, but not just for the sake of transparency. Transparency on its own is not enough. What you need is accountability as well. Trying to identify the levels of accountability in ocean economic sectors and leverage points to change. Who can set the right incentives? I believe the financial sector has really strong power to create incentives for industry, as do governments. You need a regulatory landscape. It’s not going to happen out of altruism as much as we could wish for this, it’s not how we operate. You need the regulation to be in place to incentivise better practices, and we’re going back to collective action. I think diving into that is something that I’m really keen on.

Photo by Danny Copeland

LUX: In 10 years’ time what changes do you hope to see in the world as a result of your research and the initiatives that you’ve worked on?
JJ: In 10 years’ time we’re past 2030, so we’ve either delivered or not on the Sustainable Development Agenda. So far it doesn’t look that good to be entirely honest, I don’t know if we are on track for delivering.

But I hope we will have got to a point where governments have been bold enough to set in motion the policies that will enable change. We can’t just stick to business as usual with a few incremental changes here and there, or a couple of long term targets that make everyone feel good.

More specifically, when it comes to the financial sector, I really like to think of financiers as either enablers or gatekeepers in terms of their potential influence. I would like to see them enable capital to flow towards sustainable activities. What’s striking in the ocean domain is that SDG 14 is the least financed goal of all of them. The SDG 14, life below water, the ocean SDG, is the least financed over the past ten years. Only 1% of the total value of the ocean economy has been invested into sustainable activity. In 10 years’ time I would hope they do more to fill that gap and enable more sustainable investment.

At the same time, regardless of that ocean finance gap, you have that blue acceleration that is exponentially increasing. This means that capital is going to those sectors, one way or another. That’s where I think of financiers as gatekeepers. Ideally financiers would take the sustainability criteria into consideration in their financial decision. It’s not the norm, but I hope it will be in 10 years’ time. Loans by default should be sustainability linked instead of the other way around, because suddenly that means companies have an incentive, a very tangible incentive to perform from a sustainability perspective.

Find out more: stockholmresilience.org/jouffray

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a blue wave crashing
a blue wave crashing

Image by Ben Thouard

With Ocean Week upon us, LUX speaks to Karen Sack, a leading voice in the ocean economy, about how only action and investment from the Global North can allay the effects of global warming on the world economy – and its most valued nations
A woman with short short hair wearing a necklace and t-shirt

Karen Sack

LUX: What is the fault line between the Global North and the Global South?
Karen Sack: If we look at the world from an ocean perspective, the most biodiverse areas today are in the developing world. They are around the coasts of developing country waters, and, in particular, the waters of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These are also the countries that have created the most Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). So there is a stress between these countries and those that support other activities, such as subsidising vessels that exploit distant waters, going to faraway places and fishing in destructive ways.

LUX: What about the societal effects of climate change?
KS: This is a growing concern for developed countries, as they see the impact of climate change through the migration of people who are leaving these vulnerable coastal developing states and SIDS. These people are at risk because their livelihoods are compromised – there are no more fish to catch. They move to cities, but the cities don’t have the infrastructure to support them. This leads to international migrations, as we see with Central America up to North America, Africa into Europe, and in Asia, too. Suddenly, these issues are beginning to have international implications. It will be far more cost-effective for developed countries to invest in coastal and ocean resilience in developing countries and SIDS, than to leave it and have to deal with the consequences of the climate crisis.

Lots of white and green small fish in the sea

LUX: How can this investment be driven?
KS: The issue of broader investment is where we at Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) are focused. There is a huge challenge in driving investment towards a sustainable blue economy into these countries of the Global South. Transactions are often too small for private-sector companies, and there’s risk because of the credit status of the countries or because of climate events. So we’re not seeing the investment that’s needed to help fundamentally shift the way developing countries are able to work. For example, many SIDS in the Pacific have to sell their fishing resources to foreign fleets so they can earn foreign-exchange dollars to pay for diesel fuel, so they can power their economies.

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There’s this constant vicious cycle, and there are huge emissions, both transport emissions and direct emissions from burning fuel. If we shift all those islands to renewable energy, we break existing dependencies, and it doesn’t cost that much money. One Pacific island estimated it will cost $180 million to shift completely to renewables. They cannot find the money because they don’t have the credit rating and they don’t have the in-house resources. You have to break all those cycles to work forward quickly, and I hope that’s what we can do through ORRAA. As a multi-stakeholder alliance, with multilateral banks, private banks and insurers on board with us, as well as civil society, academics and countries themselves, we can get people around the table to solve problems. We can help develop de-risking mechanisms, such as insurance or public-sector guarantees, to incentivise private-sector banks to invest into countries, which could help reduce or eliminate their dependence on fossil fuels.

blue sea

LUX: Do we in the media have a role to play?
KS: Of course. We all work in silos, where we don’t join the dots between our functions. So we need to join the dots and think about how important it is to shift to renewables from fossil fuels, how that helps to build resilience, and how that incentivises investment and credit ratings, building biodiversity-positive outcomes and climate resilience for 250 million climate- vulnerable people. We must change our mindsets.

LUX: Is government regulation required?
KS: Government action is essential, but for the private sector to wait for that is not in its long- term self-interest. We need to see action now. For example, in the US, the development of a natural-capital accounting methodology is being worked on, so businesses can account for their impacts on natural capital and disclose those impacts, and then investors can think about what that means for investment portfolios. The same is happening in France and China.

LUX: What needs to happen next?
KS: First, we need to get some of the largest banks and asset managers to sit down with the multilateral banks and organisations like the US government’s Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and talk about what is key for them in terms of de-risking their investments. Is it a guarantee, business- interruption insurance or another mechanism? The multilateral banks need to step up and provide those mechanisms, so we can crowd more financing into these sectors. The second thing is building capacity in these countries to enable the establishment of laws and regulations that will create a stable investment environment, so that these types of financing mechanisms can emerge. The third ingredient is for the private sector to recognise that we need to finance the “missing middle” – investments from $2 million to $10 million in small island countries where entrepreneurs are doing all they can to build sustainability, but cannot move from seed funding into product development or into the next stage of evolution of their companies.

a ribbed brown coral under the sea with the sun shining through the water

LUX: Aren’t the interests of, say, the Maldives different to Brazil’s?
KS: When we speak about Least Developed Countries and SIDS, I think they speak with one voice. They are all looking for these types of opportunities. When we look at countries further up the development chain, such as Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, there are different incentives. However, entrepreneurs in those countries have the same challenges, and that is something we need to focus on.

Read more: Markus Müller on the links between the ocean and the economy

LUX: What can happen this year?
KS: There’s a major opportunity, given the change in leadership at the World Bank, to focus on the biggest challenges facing the Global South, and there is no question that the two biggest challenges are the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, both underlined by the unsustainable debt crisis. The private sector also needs to focus on investing in sustainable blue- economy opportunities – feeding that missing middle. At ORRAA, we’re working with some of our partners to develop a fund to deploy $150 million into investable opportunities in developing countries to build that sustainable blue economy. The third piece is we have to think outside the box to finance the landmark Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at COP15 in Montreal in December 2022. How do we protect 30 per cent of the planet by 2030? What kind of finances can be mobilised to do that, so that countries are not going into debt to build back biodiversity? We have to break the log jam around the climate-finance issue in terms of loss and damage. And we have to do it now.

Karen Sack is Executive Director of Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA). She was speaking to Darius Sanai

This article was first published in the Deustche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 6 min
waves crashing in the sea and rocks on the sea floor
waves crashing in the sea and rocks on the sea floor

Fishes, 24 March 2019, Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Ben Thouard

Markus Müller discusses how the ocean, biodiversity, the global economy and the world of finance are inextricably linked – and proposes what should be done now to make business fit for a nature-compliant future
A man wearing a suit

Markus Müller

Economics is deeply bound to nature. Portfolio managers in finance often think they invented the idea of diversification. I hate to disappoint them, but it was created by nature first. Nature, like economics, invented diversification for risk protection and to provide the breeding ground for development. If everything stayed the same, there would be no development – this is true for nature and true for economics.

According to some estimates, half of global GDP is directly attributable to nature. Some industries, such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing, use nature’s output to create economic output, and are therefore heavily nature-dependent. The biodiversity of nature is also essential to economics, because the wide assortment of living things provides crucial ecosystem services to the economy. These services range from providing fresh air and clean water to producing food. Nature provides everything that humans consume.

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The ocean plays a big part in biodiversity, as two-thirds of our planet is covered with water and more than 95 per cent of that is ocean. If we allow our ocean ecosystems to be depleted, we create risks for nature, for humanity, for the economy and for social stability. Human life is heavily dependent on ocean ecosystems and, if we let them deteriorate, the services we need to live and thrive will not be there. We would lose the critical services the ocean provides, such as the natural governance of carbon sequestration and temperature regulation. It is all one connected chain.

There are a myriad of links between nature and economics. The ocean is a great example of this, and an example of how we undervalue nature in our economic thinking. For instance, do we really understand the financial impact of having 40 per cent of the global population living near the coast with the threat of rising sea levels? Have we really taken into account how vital water is for our livelihoods and do we have an economic model that accounts for this?

 orange coral underwater

Although our understanding of ocean economics has developed, there is still a long way to go. However, we do know enough to start taking action. Some may ask, why is it important to finance the blue economy? The real question is, how do we use finance to transform our current non-sustainable and non-equitable blue economy into a sustainable and equitable one? First, we have to be clear about the goal: to have a sustainable and equitable blue economy and a nature-compliant economic model. Creating such a model is the equivalent of the economics behind building and operating a railway infrastructure. To build a functioning train network first requires a railway system, which is too expensive for private markets to install and is the kind of cost that only a government can afford – but the trains can be provided and financed by private companies.

We need to enable the ocean to deliver its ecosystem services. Many ocean assets need to be protected in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and they are unlikely to generate an investment return. This means assets in MPAs are not suitable for a market system; rather, it becomes a governmental and societal responsibility to protect them and ensure they are not being depleted or overused. Governance is key for this to be successful.

Finance can be a tool that then helps achieve the goal for a sustainable and equitable blue economy. Global financial markets can play a role by providing a premium to companies that operate in the blue economy. In time, these companies that account for the impact that the ocean has on their economic activity can become more profitable and have more stable profit generation than other businesses. Those businesses that do not account for the ocean may find they are at risk: a reputational risk, a physical risk, even a liability risk. Financial markets can also provide indirect support to sustainable companies that understand how their value chains are impacted by the ocean. This is also part of ocean finance.

fish swimming around coral in the sea

In this new economic model, firms link self-interest to the health of the natural machine. CEOs understand their dependency on the ocean and are therefore aligned for protection. This happens through transparency, disclosure and data flow. Regulation provides a framework, which can be supplemented by the private sector if needed, as regulators can’t do everything. The risk to watch out for is using key performance indicators (KPIs) that are not globally or locally accepted in financial markets. Here again, regulation is an enabler.

Companies that are directly involved in the blue economy should employ local people and redistribute the accrued margin to the local communities, based on the understanding that nature needs time to recover. This would be both sustainable and equitable. Self-interests will drive this and it will happen at the local level, bottom up, before eventually forming global coalitions. An economy, or society, works from an agreement of self-understanding. Thus, if humankind can reach an agreement that fossil fuels are not the way forward, then society will find a way to abandon fossil fuels. However, if there is not such an agreement, then global treaties will not be signed.

Read more: 3Sun Gigafactory’s Eliano Russo On The Clean Energy Transition

Literacy in the systemic value of natural capital is incomplete, especially in financial markets. It follows a similar path to the understanding of climate change from the past 40 years. But it is growing. We must now act on propositions such as those outlined here to build the nature-compliant economy of our future.

Markus Müller is Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Chief Investment Officer at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank

Find out more: deutschewealth.com/esg

This article was first published in the Deustche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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blue wave splash
blue wave splash

Marine biologist Matt Sharp was awarded the Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year in 2020 for his incredible images, such as this one of a wave breaking in the Maldives in 2019

Marine life is threatened by climate change, pollution and overfishing. And depleted oceans risk collapsing the whole global ecosystem. A new generation of business startups is aiming to reshape the ocean economy, making it both truly sustainable and profitable. Michael Marshall reports

The blue economy is gaining momentum. Hundreds of startup companies around the world are aiming to protect, and even restore, the oceans, while making a profit. They want to get food and other essential resources from the sea in ways that benefit marine life – or at least don’t harm it. What’s more, there are plenty of organisations that aim to support these startups, whether with money or expertise or both.

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“We are not going to save the oceans if we don’t change the economy,” says Tiago Pitta e Cunha, the CEO of the Oceano Azul Foundation, a Portuguese non-profit that supports a variety of initiatives designed to stimulate the growth of the sustainable blue economy. The good news is that the business case for ocean conservation is real and growing. “There’s a wonderful opportunity for startups and new companies to develop business models,” says John Virdin, director of the Oceans & Coastal Policy Programme at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in Durham, North Carolina.

The ocean certainly needs our help. It faces three big problems – overfishing, pollution and climate change – that “tend to make each other worse”, says Nancy Knowlton, a professor of marine biology and Sant Chair in Marine Sciences at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. However, she adds, there have been some real success stories for ocean conservationists in recent years. Take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), for example. These are regions of the ocean in which extractive industries are either banned or tightly regulated, and they have proven highly beneficial when implemented fully. In 2020, fully implemented MPAs covered 5.3 per cent of the ocean, and this area is growing every year. As a result, some animals that were once considered on the brink of extinction have increased in numbers, including many whale species.

At the moment, the blue economy is dominated by “a few really big fish”, Virdin points out. In 2021, he co-authored a study that found 60 per cent of all revenues obtained from the ocean came from just 100 companies, almost half of which were from the oil and gas industry. Such companies have “rigid processes in place, for good reasons”, says Alexis Grosskopf, the founder and CEO of OceanHub Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, an accelerator for ocean impact startups. Those processes “could not be disrupted smoothly and quickly enough, without blowing up or imploding”.

This is where startup companies come in. Small outfits with radical technologies and new ways of doing things can overthrow existing practices, if they’re successful enough. And in the blue economy there are now hundreds aiming to disrupt a variety of industries, from fishing and aquaculture to renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and waste management. Some want to take an existing industry, such as fishing, and do it better, causing less harm to the ocean ecosystem. Others are aiming to restore and repair, actively improving the marine environment while also making a profit.

As with all startups, the challenge is to survive long enough to build a customer base and break even. A startup company may attract an initial burst of funding on the basis of a good idea, which enables it to start operations. But they then face ‘death valley’, when they risk running out of money before they start earning any.

seaweed shot under water

Intertidal seaweed beds on the west coast of Jersey, UK, in 2020

To address this challenge, a number of incubators and accelerators have been established in recent years to help ocean startups become profitable. These include Katapult Ocean in Oslo, Norway and OceanHub Africa in Cape Town, South Africa. Another is Blue Bio Value, which was set up by the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2018 to “help entrepreneurs create commercially viable and sustainable businesses” and thereby “accelerate the transition to a global and sustainable blue bioeconomy”. It is now on its fish set of startups.

Previously, the Oceano Azul Foundation – which owns the Lisbon Oceanarium – had focused on ocean education, but its leaders decided this was not enough. “We thought that, as a credible foundation, we need to also put our money where our mouth is,” says Pitta e Cunha. “We only accept startups that, through their production, will ease decarbonisation of the planet or high consumption of natural resources.” Many of these startups are led by scientists, he explains, who have essential specialist knowledge but little experience of markets or running businesses.

Alongside the accelerator, the team has also created an ideation programme to link academic researchers and business leaders, to encourage the formation of new businesses. “We are trying to manufacture new startups, because they are needed,” Pitta e Cunha says.

With so many funders, incubators and accelerators entering the ocean economy, the challenge for the owners of a new startup is how to navigate this business world. Several organisations have now been set up to organise everything and help startups find their way.

At Investable Oceans, in New York, the co-founder and principle, Ted Janulis, likes to say he was “born with an ocean gene”, which means he “can’t walk past a body of water of any type without jumping in and splashing around”. Several decades in finance convinced him that there were market-based opportunities all over the ocean economy. But the investors were scattered and disconnected. “The people who invested in plastic mitigation weren’t necessarily the people investing in better fisheries or aquaculture,” he says. So he set out to create a single platform where people could come and learn about investment opportunities in the blue economy across all asset classes and sectors. “We’re not an incubator, we’re not an accelerator, we’re not a fund and we’re not a broker dealer,” he says. “Our goal is to connect people.”

Plastic pollution along the beach– knee-deep in some places – in the Maldives in 2019

More recently, an umbrella organisation called 1000 Ocean Startups was launched in May 2021 to accelerate ocean impact innovation by bringing together “incubators, accelerators, competitions, matching platforms and VCs supporting startups for ocean impact”. Its members include Katapult Ocean, OceanHub Africa and Investable Oceans and so far it has backed 168 startups: 115 focused on sustainable use of ocean resources, 33 addressing pollution and 20 tackling climate change. “We’re still in the infancy stage,” says Grosskopf. The aim is to back 1,000 startups by 2030.

The challenge for all these companies will be to compete against existing ocean businesses that are not making efforts to be sustainable, and therefore have lower operating costs. Some consumers are prepared to pay extra for sustainable products, but many will not or cannot, so the startups must compete on price to attract mass-market consumers.

Fortunately, there are many routes to success, says Janulis. “Some of it might be that it’s a standalone company that becomes really big,” he says, but startups can also be absorbed by larger companies that see their methods as an opportunity.

Janulis says there is also “a rising sensibility and more awareness”, a point echoed by many. “I was born as a digital native,” says Grosskopf. People from the generation below, he says, are “sustainable natives”. “The consumers of tomorrow, the employers of tomorrow… they have sustainability in their DNA.”

It will soon be impossible for companies to behave unsustainably, Virdin suggests. “These issues of sustainability of ocean ecosystems and communities, they’re not luxury issues,” he says. “These are core issues to the future of the business model, whether it’s social licence to operate or whether it’s risks to your operating environment in the coming decades.”

Scottish coastal waves

Duncansby Stacks last year, on the exposed north- east coast of Scotland, where seals and seabirds thrive

Knowlton cautions that it’s unlikely startups alone can fix the marine environmental crisis. “The problem is that we’re kind of in a race against time,” she says, so there will need to be top-down action as well. “The role of government is really important because it can motivate change quickly.” However, she acknowledges, startups are where creative ideas can be brought to fruition quickly. “I think you have to encourage entrepreneurship – and much of it will fail, but some of it will work.”

Read More: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on benefits of the blue economy

In other words, it’s not a choice between buccaneering startups and rules-based government. To save our ocean, both will have to work together.

Savvy Ocean Startups

Pesky Fish: Many of the fish that are caught at sea, particularly by trawlers, are wasted. Because they aren’t fashionable, they are discarded as ‘bycatch’. The British company Pesky Fish aims to change that by allowing fishers to sell directly to consumers. It has a rapidly updated online shop and overnight delivery service.

Recyglo: Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems facing the ocean ecosystem. Today most plastic enters the ocean from east Asia, where waste management systems are poor. Recyglo is aiming to change that by bringing modern recycling to the region. It already has branches in Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia.

Cascadia Seaweed: Farming seaweed has enormous potential to feed the growing human population, remove carbon dioxide from the air, and restore the ocean by providing habitat for marine animals. Canadian firm Cascadia Seaweed is turning kelp into food for people and farm animals. It is working in partnership with First Nations groups.

This article appears in the Deutsche Bank Supplement of the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 8 min
swordfish in the sea swimming to a swarm of fish
swordfish in the sea swimming to a swarm of fish
Is it possible to make money out of our oceans while preserving and even enhancing them? Chris Gorell Barnes thinks so. The Co-founder of Ocean 14 Capital and Blue Marine Foundation speaks to LUX Editor-in-Chief, Darius Sanai about the possibilities in the blue economy

LUX: What is the focus of Blue Marine Foundation going forwards?
Chris Gorell Barnes: The focus is on stopping overfishing – which is undoubtedly one of the worst threats to the ocean. Restoring, regenerating and protecting the oceans and creating large scale Marine Protected areas, all done through innovations and an agile and entrepreneurial approach to conservation.

LUX: How has the foundation succeeded in capturing the public’s imagination where other groups have failed?
CGB: Through actually delivering successful conservation wins and first-of-its-kind innovations for the oceans, and incredible marketing, media and editorial work. (We have a journalist, a filmmaker and a marketer as Co-founders!)

LUX: How important has your background in marketing and content been for Blue Marine Foundation?
CGB: It’s been helpful, coupled with my co-founders’ skills. From the start, we were way ahead with our social media and content approach and have built an incredible media unit to use media to drive significant conservation wins. The film, The End of the Line is in our DNA.

two girls on a boat on the sea wearing wet suits

LUX: How do you persuade corporations to modify their environmental practices?
CGB: By enabling and educating them on the key role the ocean plays in mitigating the climate crisis and feeding the world.

LUX: Are there wealthy individuals who donate with one hand while their investments pollute with the other? What should they do?
CGB: We are very careful with KYC and our donors all share our values and mission alignment.

LUX: What is the highest priority for ocean protection as far as the foundation is concerned?
CGB: End overfishing and ensure 30% of the ocean is fully protected, with the remaining 70% sustainably managed.

Arlo Brady, with Ambassadors of Blue Marine Foundation, Princess Eugenie of York and James Blunt

LUX: You have drawn extensively on celebrity ambassadors for the foundation. Who has done the best job for you, and why?
CGB: From Prince Albert II of Monaco to Simon Le Bon to James Blunt, they have all been incredibly supportive with our initiatives all over the world. And of course Stephen Fry, who narrated the incredible interactive tool we built, The Sea We Breathe. We have also been very smart with brand collaborations such as Christopher Ward, Sunseeker, Moke, Kenzo, and Ralph Lauren.

LUX: It’s 2050: what do you think the oceans will look like?
CGB: I hope that they are thriving: protected, restored, functioning and full of life, ensuring we have a healthy planet and bringing employment, healthy sustainable food and joy to all.

LUX: What and where is the biggest environmental tragedy in our oceans right now?
CGB: Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing is happening all over the world, destroying ecosystems and stealing fish from the most disadvantaged citizens on the planet.

A man standing on a fishing boat wearing an orange jumpsuit and blue top

LUX: How would you explain to an intelligent but distracted business leader that the loss of a seemingly trivial marine ecosystem can have a fundamental effect on people on the other side of the world?
CGB: The ocean connects and carries everything. It is the life source of our planet, providing half the oxygen we breathe and absorbing half the carbon we produce. It also plays a key role in feeding three billion people. We need to protect it everywhere.

LUX: Where does the blame lie for overfishing – consumers, business, or governments?
CGB: The blame is with governments and business. Governments need to stop the ridiculous $22 billion worth of subsidies aiding overfishing; and businesses need to create absolute transparency of the supply chain.

seals in the sea

LUX: Why did you start Ocean 14 Capital?
CGB: We launched the Ocean 14 fund as it was clear that there was a huge need to build the conduit for capital looking at the blue economy. We believe that it is driving necessary positive impact on the ocean and making significant returns for the fund’s investors. Philanthropy is doing an incredible job but we need to attract institutional capital in order to transform the blue economy and this will only come if we create sophisticated impact investment vehicles like the Ocean 14 fund. If we do not create a sustainable and regenerative blue economy, we have zero chance of solving the crisis in the ocean and therefore protecting humanity – this is the most important investment thesis of our time.

LUX: The term ‘impact investment’ can be meaningless. Why is it not in your case?
Chris asked co-founder George Duffield to write the below response.
Because impact is in our DNA. We have spent more than a decade learning how to save the ocean. We work at a company level to build specific impact pathways, that are scientifically accurate and rigorously measured. Only then do we follow those pathways out to high level SDG 14 level goals. In other words, we work from detailed facts, not high-level assumptions. Impact is science, not goodwill.

Poppy Delevigne standing in front of a group of cyclists

Ambassador of Blue Marine Foundation, Poppy Delevigne

LUX: What specific types of companies are you planning to invest in and why will they make a difference?
CGB: The fund’s investment strategy is focussed on ensuring food security and protecting and restoring marine ecosystems. The fund recently closed two transactions: SyAqua is a leading technology and genetics company for shrimp aquaculture, and will help transform the industry to be much more efficient and sustainable. The other company is called AION, who have created a whole new operating model for managing plastics inventory, called Circularity as a Service. This business aims to transform how plastic is managed in big industry – stop plastic entering the ocean and take plastic out of the ocean. We believe that all of the fund’s investments should deliver great returns for our investors and have a positive impact on the ocean.

A man climbing on to a fishing boat from the sea

A man climbing on to a fishing boat from the sea

LUX: Blue finance is still maturing. How can investors be sure that sustainability projects will provide the scale and return they are seeking?
CGB: There is no trade off – we believe it is a win-win. We have the total convergence of drivers in the blue economy – the most valuable companies will be the most sustainable and impactful.

LUX: Why is blue economy investment so underserved currently, and will that change?
CGB: LIke marine conservation, when we started Blue Marine, the blue economy was very misunderstood and overlooked. Governments and businesses have been slow to realise the enormity of the problem and investors have missed the enormous opportunity. But the blue economy is now getting the attention it needs.

mangroves and clouds in the sky

LUX: What will the blue economy look like in five years’ time?
CGB: In 5 years’ time, the blue economy will have matured. Ocean14 plans to launch a larger fund which aims to attract the large institutional investors we need to support the transformation of the blue economy. We believe there will be more funds in the space, and there will be more sophisticated securitisation vehicles for blue carbon and nature-based solutions.

LUX: Do you fear blue washing, and what can be done about it?
CGB: We need to be vigilant, but what we have created is the most sophisticated impact measurement and reporting platform in the blue economy. We need to create and standardise this approach so there is clarity and transparency of what a true impactful business looks like in the blue economy. Then blue washing will have nowhere to hide. There will always be bad actors in the global economy who try to conceal various sins with blue/green washing. But Blue Marine and Ocean 14 are very alert to it, and with the right KYC and due diligence it has no place in our work.

Find out more: 

ocean14capital.com

bluemarinefoundation.com

 

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A man standing on a fishing boat holding a fishing net
A man standing on a fishing boat holding a fishing net

Traditional net fishing from a boat

80% of the earth’s biomass is concentrated in the oceans. But how do we put a value on the deep sea? As the concept of natural capital — putting a price tag on the services nature provides — enters the mainstream, ocean expert and activist Karen Sack tells LUX Editor-in-Chief, Darius Sanai, why valuing nature needs to encompass more than just the dollar sign

Sack has over three decades’ experience in ocean conservation, law and policy, and currently serves as Chief Executive of Ocean Unite (co-founded with Richard Branson and José María Figueres) and Executive Director of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA). Here, she explains why the time has come to incorporate ocean measurements into sustainability metrics, and how nature-based solutions should be at the forefront of any ocean investment strategy

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LUX: The concept of natural capital — of nature having value in and of itself — has historically been ignored. Why is it important?
Karen Sack: I do think it’s important, but we need to be careful not to reduce nature’s value to just a monetary value. The reason we have to put a value on nature is so that we can understand and incorporate it into the economic system that we all exist within. While, for me, this in some ways runs contrary to what we want to do – we want to just value nature in and of itself — we still need to incorporate nature into our valuation system. If we don’t, we will very quickly have to pay the consequences. We already are seeing this in terms of what is happening with the climate crisis.

Purple and brown corals in turquoise water

Fan Corals in Belize Barrier Reef

LUX: Can investment in ocean conservation be furthered by investment in the private sector?
KS: We need to blend together different types of finance to focus on the ocean’s protection. One of the issues that has arisen recently is how we account for the costs of marine protection. We’re focusing a lot on the question of what it costs in terms of potential revenue in terms of fisheries and other lost revenues. Yet we don’t apply that same standard when we think about providing a fishing company with a licence to fish; we don’t price those costs into that fishing licence. The private sector has been very involved in the extractive activities that take place in the ocean, and in some ways have been subsidised quite substantially by the public sector, so that those activities can continue.

The role of philanthropy in the ocean space is oftentimes to kickstart some of these discussions, to act as a springboard for investment from other areas. And oftentimes that’s what we need to paint the picture, so we understand the benefits of investment from the private and public sector.

Sri Lankan fisherman throwing a fishing net in the sea

Sri Lankan fisherman throwing a fishing net near Mirissa

LUX: When people speak of the blue economy, there might be an assumption that it is inherently sustainable. But the term can also encapsulate bottom-trawling and oil extraction.
KS: It has to be further defined. The Stockholm Resilience Centre has coined an interesting term: it talks about the development of the blue economy as a ‘blue acceleration’. If you look at different sectors of the economy that are investing in this space, you can see how lopsided and inequitable some of that development is. For example, small island developing states have protected something like 13% of all marine protected areas, which are in small island developing states. We call them ‘big ocean states’, because they have these amazing ocean real estate areas. That’s huge, yet the investment from other sectors of the economy, for example aquaculture, has been located within those small island development states.

Renewable energy is another example of where there has been a 500-fold increase in investment in offshore renewables over the past 20 years. Not one of those wind shore turbines have been located in a small island developing state. That is just so indicative of the lop-sidedness, because those countries require diesel fuel to be imported and yet are the most vulnerable to climate change.

A whale's head and tale sticking up in the ocean

A Humpback Whale

LUX: Does there need to be consolidation of a single set of rules and definitions for companies, investors and governments to follow?
KS: There needs to be a standardised accounting methodology that’s used, so that when you’re looking to invest in a space, you understand that that standardisation has happened. Otherwise, the opportunity for greenwash or bluewash is very high, and something that we have to guard against. It’s just too easy right now to argue that your investment is sustainable without those standardisations being in place to show that it truly is.

LUX: How does one measure the effect of either one’s donation or investment in sustainable terms?
KS: Right now, it’s very difficult to say there is any kind of comparability between, for example, one scheme that invests in seagrass to capture carbon and promote biodiversity, via another one in coral reefs. It’s what people are most interested in investing into at the moment. We understand the difference between the level of impact from a storm surge that a healthy coral reef can deflect versus a mangrove. But comparing ecosystems with one another is really difficult: it would be the same as comparing the carbon sequestration potential of the Savannah to a cornfield in Montana.

A man holding fish in a net by a lake

A fisherman holding a shoal of big Common Silver Barb

LUX: What needs to happen in terms of legislation and the way large institutional investors behave?
KS: We need to incorporate ocean measurements into some of the tools the financial world now uses when they measure their sustainability metrics. We don’t want to have some completely separate ocean-based metrics. For initiatives like the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TFNFD), we need to incorporate the ocean into that. We need to look at some of the taxonomies that are being created for example by the European Union, and ensure that it is not completely different from whatever is created in the US or in other countries around the world, or in China. And then a focus on innovation, and the types of KPIs that need to be developed. So this is all beginning to happen, it’s a very fast moving space, but right now it requires certainly scientific advice and a lot of listening.

LUX: Will blue economy investment always be a kind of blended opportunity, or is it something that is seen as a P&L play?
KS: With the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, one of the initiatives that we are working on is the development of what we are calling a Sea Change Impact Financing Facility (SCIFF). When, a couple of years ago, we started doing some work on financing, we asked some partners to look at what was needed to increase investment. We found that we needed a whole new ocean finance ecosystem. Spaces that are particularly important include the coastal ecosystems, the seagrass beds, the coral reefs: places that are helping to both be nurseries for biological diversity, sequestering carbon and providing food security for coastal communities. So if you don’t have that surrounding ecosystem, that is literally money down the drain. That will probably require blended finance, and looking at things such as the development of blue carbon credits. Then we need to look at how to drive the big investments into the space, and ask what type of equity capital we need to drive big investments. I mentioned offshore renewables, an amazing opportunity for investment that is still seen as quite risky.

mangroves in water

A mangrove tree in clear tropical waters near Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Thinking about greening shipping, it is a huge emitter of CO2 but 80% of our trade in the world travels by ship. So how do we transform our ports and harbours, so they both have the infrastructure for green shipping? The third piece is what we call the ‘risk wrappers’. These are the public sector guarantees that can lower the risk of some of those opportunities for investment and drive public sector capital into the space. But if we’re looking at developing countries, and small island developing states, that’s not where the private sector is going. So how do we drive investment into some of those projects, and reduce transaction costs? Those are some of the issues we need to tackle as we move this new ocean financial ecosystem forwards.

LUX: Should nature-based solutions be the most important focus of investment currently, or one of many?
KS: From my perspective, nature-based solutions should be at the core of an investment strategy when it comes to the ocean. We’ve got 80% of the biomass, 80% of life on earth is held within the ocean. It doesn’t cost a lot, but the returns are incredible. We should be supporting, particularly for small-island developing states, and developing countries, investments into nature again for the reasons of resilience, food security, biodiversity positive outcomes, and also carbon sequestration. The more life we have, the stronger the carbon carrying capacity is. We also know that these are tested, as nature has been adapting for millennia. We need to learn from nature, and this is where we are seeing the results of that investment into nature being so significant.

Women with traditional hats working in the sea catching fish

Local women working in a fishing village

LUX: Do you see abating ocean industries as all part of the same investment parcel? Is it better for an institution to invest $500 million in a scheme that makes ships more hydrodynamic, or to invest in mangrove planting?
KS: The thing that is impacting the ocean the most right now is our CO2 emissions. So, any kind of investment that gets us to net zero as quickly as possible is helping the ocean. That is key. We must then look at the risk multipliers, for example pollution, whether it’s wastewater or nutrient runoff. These are not sexy things to invest in, but a sewage treatment plant can make the difference between a coral reef that survives and one that does not.

Read more: Melissa Garvey On Saving The Oceans

Bottom trawling is a fundamentally destructive fishing practice. Investments into things like bottom-trawling should just not happen. Offshore oil and gas is another one. So: stopping some investments to begin with. Next, investing in getting to net zero as quickly as possible. Third would then be looking at investments, particularly in coastal areas that are biodiversity positive in terms of their net result, so that we can rebuild those ecosystems.

It’s interesting to look at some of the work that’s now being done on technological solutions to address the climate crisis. We know, for example, that in a marine protected area that’s fully protected, the increase in biomass over 10 years can be 400% or even higher than that. I can’t think of a bank where I would put an investment in and get a 400% return on that investment, but nature gives us that. So, looking at those kinds of investments is really impossible. And that goes back to the question of valuing nature and understanding that that value isn’t just in the dollar value.

Karen Sack is Chief Executive of Ocean Unite and Executive Director of Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA)

Find out more:

oceanriskalliance.org

oceanunite.org

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Reading time: 9 min
turtles ocean

turtles ocean

The health of the world’s oceans is under threat. But the seas can be part of a visionary plan to address climate change and create a more sustainable economy. Andrew Saunders reports on the new science around ocean carbon capture

Photography by Matt Sharp

The power of plants to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow is well understood as a vital tool in the global battle against climate change. But which of the planet’s myriad natural environments does it best? Tropical rainforest? African Savannah? Scottish peat bogs? None of the above – in fact the most carbon-rich ecosystem in the world is not to be found on land at all but in the ocean. Mangrove swamps, such as those found dotted around the coastlines of Indonesia, Brazil and Nigeria for example, are the unsung heroes of carbon storage, locking up no less than ten times as much carbon per kilometre square in their branches, roots and soils than even the densest forest.

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Together with other coastal ecosystems, including sea-grass meadows, tidal marshlands and coral reefs, these so-called ‘blue carbon’ resources highlight that the oceans play a much more prominent role in limiting global warming than has been generally recognised.

“Building the ocean’s resilience to change and helping to rebuild marine-species abundance and diversity are not as fully appreciated as they should be as crucial tools in combating climate change, but there is more and more evidence that blue carbon plays a critical role in maintaining the health of our biosphere,” says Karen Sack, chief executive of Ocean Unite, an international network of experts in the science and ecology of the oceans.

Covering some 70 per cent of the planet’s surface, the oceans are effectively a huge carbon sink which has already absorbed around a third of the excess carbon that has been put into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial era. And more than 50 per cent of the carbon in the ocean is blue carbon, despite the fact that such environments account for only two per cent of the total ocean area. Protecting and enhancing them is at least as important as preserving forests, planting trees and rewilding on land, says Sack. “Mangroves, sea-grass beds, fish and marine mammals play a huge role in sequestering and storing carbon. By protecting and restoring these crucial habitats and species, more carbon will be sequestered and stored, resulting in a healthier planet, which is better for us all.”

seaweed

Rock pools in Jersey

The carbon capture and storage potential of healthy oceans is not limited to coastal blue carbon zones alone, however. Other proposals for boosting the potential carbon sequestering of the world’s seas include encouraging kelp forests – essentially huge seaweed farms – and even microscopic algae called phytoplankton to extract carbon from the atmosphere as they grow.

Such initiatives could not only help climate change but also present new and potentially lucrative opportunities for business and investors, says Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland and a member of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. The panel’s landmark 2020 report, Ocean Solutions That Benefit People, Nature and the Economy, found that a truly sustainable ocean economy could contribute around a fifth of the total carbon reduction required to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement target of a maximum two degrees of climate warming.

Read more: LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai on Effective Climate Action

For example, some phytoplankton species can be a source of valuable low or even zero-carbon biofuels and other industrial products. “Some of my colleagues here in Queensland are working on this. Phytoplankton grow very quickly and they can be processed to produce biofuels and high-value boutique chemicals. It’s potentially very interesting but it still has to be proved at an industrial scale.”

The ocean economy could also help feed the world more sustainably – a study by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies found that each kilo of fish landed in the US requires the emission of just 1.6kg of carbon dioxide, compared with between 50kg and 750kg for a kilo of beef produced on land. And if it can be done sustainably, large-scale ocean aquaculture has the potential added benefit of helping to protect and restore many wild-fish stocks threatened by over-fishing. “Well over half the world’s fisheries are in trouble,” says Hoegh-Guldberg, “because they have been fished down to well below sustainable levels.”

Rethinking the way we catch fish, so that sustainable aquaculture in the oceans becomes more equivalent to sustainable agriculture on land, could help stressed wild fisheries recover, he adds. “We are sophisticated farmers on land but we still have a basically Neolithic culture when it comes to fisheries.”

Creating such a climate-positive ocean economy will require a shift in the mindset of business in general and finance in particular to the point where the environmental impact of commercial activity is given equal weight to considerations of profit and loss, says Ocean Unite’s Sack. “Instead of viewing nature as an unaccounted externality that is not valued, the finance and business community more broadly needs to recognise its value, including the intrinsic value of biodiversity, and account for it. It can then take tried and tested financial products and put them to work with nature to build resilience and deliver bankable returns.”

beach pollution

Matt Sharp visited the Maldives in 2019 (above) where he recorded the extent of the pollution on the beaches

Stressing the urgency, she continues, “We’re at an ‘all hands on deck’ moment. By bringing together our collective knowledge and strengths, we can tackle hazards and vulnerabilities, build resilience and adapt to change at speed and at scale. But we have to have public and private sector financing to do that and partner across sectors to spur the type of innovative marketplace that is needed.”

So, nature and profit can co-exist in a sustainable and carbon-sequestering ocean economy. But what about technological solutions? As far back as the 1970s, Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti was the first to suggest injecting CO₂ directly into the Mediterranean to ameliorate global warming, and since then the oceans have been seen as part of a more tech-led – and more controversial – approach. Subsequent refinements of Marchetti’s original idea include pumping CO₂ captured from industrial plants into the sediment layer on the deep ocean floor. The pressure at such depth would liquefy the carbon dioxide, helping – in theory anyway – to keep it safely locked up, miles down in the mud.

Read more: Markus Müller on the Importance of Global Sustainability Standards

Even set against the current scale of the climate crisis, this looks like last-ditch stuff, says Professor Stuart Haszeldine of the School of GeoSciences at Edinburgh University. “I would much prefer that we didn’t have to: it would be a last-resort type of measure, if we haven’t managed to re-capture our emissions in any other way.”

But all the same, less risky technological solutions may well have a place – and the ocean can be part of that, too. Haszeldine and his colleagues at Edinburgh have come up with an alternative plan that could see the ocean surface turned into a kind of giant mirror to reduce the heating effect of the sun. Autonomous, computer-controlled ships would suck up sea water and spray it into the air as fine droplets, forming a layer of mist to reflect sunlight and cool the waters beneath. “We should have started reducing our carbon dioxide emissions 30 years ago,” he says. “This would be a way of cooling the ocean quickly, to reduce the effects of hurricanes [also caused by rising sea temperatures] and of helping to refreeze the melting arctic ice.” The group is currently looking for funding for a trial project to turn its innovative idea into reality. “We could build a pilot boat for a few million, and if it works then building 300 of those to delay the climate problem is well within the capacity of the global shipbuilding industry.”

rays underwater

Spotted eagle rays in the seas around the islands in the Maldives

The ocean surface could also be a platform for renewable power generation, thanks to the developing technology of floating wind and solar farms, says Hoegh-Guldberg. “Our report concludes that there is enormous potential there, and it is both technologically feasible and acceptable to the public.”

So while the climate clock is ticking ever more loudly, there are grounds to be cautiously optimistic that an alliance between science, government and business will yet provide the framework, the finance and the innovative ideas required to keep global warming within just about tolerable limits, and that oceanic carbon capture and storage will play its full part in the process. In Hoegh-Guldberg’s view, “Government needs to set the rules to encourage science to define the problems and the solutions, but then it should be sitting back as business gets involved.”

Hoegh-Guldberg also warns that if we continue as we are, we will end up with a world that is three to four degrees warmer than the pre-industrial era. “So, it doesn’t look too good as it stands now. But humans are very resourceful and there are lots of opportunities. I think we will keep to under two degrees, though not by a lot. Transitions tend to happen very slowly at first; you have to push and push until you get to the inflection point. Then suddenly you’re rolling downhill on the other side.”

Matt Sharp was awarded the Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year in 2020. He studied marine biology and has travelled and worked around the world, documenting marine life.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue.

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double artist portrait
rashid johnson cover of LUX

The main cover of our Summer 2021 issue, with a portrait of, and logo takeover by Rashid Johnson

Our Editor-in-Chief on the role of media and convergence in sustainability and luxury, from the editor’s letter in the summer 2021 issue
man in a suit

Darius Sanai

A curious thing happened to the media during the first lockdown last year. The media became everything, and nothing.

If you are struggling to make sense of that, consider this. For much of the period when we were forbidden from travelling or engaging in normal everyday activities, would wake up, flip onto WhatsApp and Instagram, login to Zoom and Teams, perhaps while checking out a YouTube video or TikTok feed on another device. In the evenings we might travel somewhere on Amazon Prime or YouTube, listen to stuff on Spotify, play League of Legends, search for a watch or a dress on Watchfinder or Net-a-Porter, or be entertained on Netflix or Apple. We would also use a podcast app to inform and entertain ourselves, maybe while Alexa or Siri read us the headlines from The New York Times.

All of that is ‘media’, which begs the question, what isn’t media?

Twenty years ago, I remember being asked, as a media correspondent for a newspaper, to write and give talks on the then new phenomenon of ‘convergence’, whereby previously completely disparate strands of human existence were starting to overlap and merge into each other. Convergence has now not just happened, but done a kind of backflip on itself. Witness the new armies of ‘creators’, who were once people with social media accounts, but are now investable business platforms leading reverse takeovers of the product lines and sectors they promote, from beauty to entertainment. They are also media, as is Ryan, who earns exclamation dollars a year opening toys on YouTube; and what is a non-fungible art token except the ultimate form of personalised, monetised media?

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All of this has left some of the traditional media in a head spin. Which tail is wagging which dog when a magazine employs a writer who then becomes an advocate for a brand she has written about, and creates a following and business worth more than the magazine that employs her?

Our partner cover for Gaggenau

In a sense, nothing has changed except the players. In this new global ecosystem, ‘media’ refers to curation above anything else – just as it did when Diana Vreeland edited Vogue. An influencer curates brands and looks; a TikToker curates social memes; a Washington Post editor curates the hierarchy and interpretation of what is happening in the world.

Far from being a constraint to traditional media, it is or should be an opportunity. We used to be expert intermediaries, reporting on aspects of the world (news, analysis, business, art) to our audiences. Now, as well as curating, we create: bring to life experiences and ecosystems. We make things happen. We also leverage our existing ecosystems in new directions.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on why tokenisation is the art world’s new frontier

LUX readers were previously defined simply by their demographic. But with wealth comes responsibility, increasingly so in this era, and we are both being inspired by and inspiring our readers, partners and ecosystem to not only help create a better life for our readers, but help them do what they would like to do and adjust the direction of elements of the world for the better. Media has a responsibility to lead.

The summer issue contains a 16-page section in partnership with Deutsche Bank, on sustainability and biodiversity

That is why you will see our 16-page supplement, together with our partner Deutsche Bank, on biodiversity and the blue economy. It is why we have launched our new series on philanthropy online, and given it a manifestation in this issue. Why we are partnering with brands and institutions to create events as diverse as a prize for sustainable art, and a forum for biodiversity. When I interviewed Brunello Cucinelli, our conversation was about the moral duty of those who can help to do so; we barely spoke about the sublime cashmere he makes. Responsible culture has long been our tag line; it is also our call to action.

I hope you enjoy this issue and everything else we do – keep updated at lux-mag.com and on our Instagram.

Read more from our Summer 2021 issue:

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aquarium
man standing on grass

José Soares dos Santos outside the Lisbon Oceanarium

Through his Oceano Azul Foundation and game-changing Oceanário de Lisboa, Portuguese business leader and activist José Soares dos Santos is one of the foremost forces in Europe driving ocean conservation. LUX meets him to find out how he inspires politicians and his fellow philanthropists, business leaders and scientists to create a more sustainable future. By Andrew Saunders

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

We have a responsibility to look after the oceans better, because the oceans look after us. That, in a nutshell, is the reason marine biologist and lifelong ocean-conservation activist José Soares dos Santos established the Oceano Azul Foundation in Lisbon, aiming to look at sustainability “from the ocean’s point of view”, as the foundation’s motto has it.

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Whether it is the huge volumes of plastic that threaten marine life of all kinds, unsustainable fishing or the dangers of climate change-related ocean warming and acidification, dos Santos believes the marine environment is under pressure like never before. However, the crisis does not get the international attention and action that it deserves; it is time for businesses, investors, society and science to get together and spread the word.

“The fact is that the planet is a system, and if we don’t take care of the system there will be no businesses, no families and no proper life as we know it,” he says. “This is a responsibility we have and we had better do something about it.”

aquarium

The central aquarium at Lisbon Oceanarium. Image by Pedro Pina

As executive director of one of Portugal’s largest and most successful business groups – whose Jerónimo Martins food distribution and retail business, chaired by his brother Pedro Soares dos Santos, had approximately €19bn in sales in 2019, with 115,000 employees and more than 4,400 stores – he used his commercial nous and network plus his marine biology training to bring together a group of experts, academics and businesses in 2014 to set up the Oceano Azul Foundation.

Read more: OceanX founders Ray & Mark Dalio on ocean awareness

“Together with my brother, we are at the head of our family group. We are the fourth generation of a very hard-working family,” dos Santos explains.“We have capital to deploy and we can call in interesting people with very good information. We have the means, and we also believe that we have the obligation to act.”

Why focus on the ocean? Portugal does of course have a long and illustrious maritime heritage, but dos Santos is motivated by his concern that the public lacks an awareness of the vital role that oceans play in sustaining life on earth. Even though the oceans cover 70 per cent of the world’s surface, the threats they are facing are poorly understood outside the scientific community. “We are talking about the oceans because there is a lot of curiosity about them. People often ask me questions about the oceans, but I am extremely surprised how little people know about them.”

crowd at aquarium

King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Mathilde at the Oceanarium during their official visit to Portugal, 2018. Image by João Maria Catarino

Dos Santos points out that the oceans are not only home to 15 per cent of all known living species, but also produce over half of all the world’s oxygen, and, in the long term, has the capacity to absorb 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. They also act as a massive heat sink to slow down the impact of global warming. They are an important source of food, resources and jobs – the OECD estimates that the blue economy could be worth $3 trillion by 2030, double its 2010 value. Human beings may live on land, but we are highly dependent on healthy, productive and sustainable oceans to enable us to do so.

Hence the foundation’s successful initiative, RISE UP – A Blue Call to Action. This is a joint initiative involving everyone from local fishing communities, foundations, indigenous people’s organisations and conservation groups, such as Ocean Unite and Environmental Defense Fund. Its campaign agenda was launched in May 2019 and presented to UN Secretary General António Guterres in February this year.

man making a speech

José Soares dos Santos announcing the donation of nautical equipment to the Portuguese National School Sports network by the Oceano Azul Foundation, 2019

Dos Santos was determined that the Oceano Azul Foundation would not be just another politically motivated pressure group pursuing its own narrow agenda, but instead a collaborative platform uniting marine conservationists, science, academia, business and society, as the collaborative and partnership-based RISE UP campaign, with over 400 organisations signed on in support. “We must keep science inside the foundation,” he says, “because we are not politicians and we cannot drift into politics. If we do that, we will be exactly the same as many other foundations and pressure groups. The world needs something different, not just another one of those.”

In particular, his view on the primacy of business and private investment in building a strong and self-sufficient culture of ocean stewardship marks out the Oceano Azul approach to sustainability as something out of the ordinary. “Our philosophy is not to donate money but to invest it. We believe that it is very important to take care of the planet but that we shouldn’t just give all that responsibility to the government.” He continues, “I find it very hypocritical when people say it is up to the government to change things. No! We elect the government, and we should say what we want.”

Read more: Nadezda Foundation’s Nadya Abela on running a children’s charity

Oceano Azul has also teamed up with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to develop the Blue Bio Value business programme, an accelerator scheme to help new and sustainable blue-economy business ideas to grow faster and more effectively. A vibrant blue economy provides jobs and generates returns that can in turn be used to protect the ocean environment. “We believe in investing to create jobs, create value and to create social value,” he points out.

The programme, now in its third year, helps innovative marine biology-based businesses to scale up. Applicants undergo a rigorous due-diligence process that can lead to a prize corresponding to €45,000 awarded to the best start-up or start-ups, as well as access to coaching and mentoring services and valuable business networking opportunities. So far, 28 businesses from 15 countries have benefitted from the programme, ranging from Biosolvit, a specialist in offshore clean-up materials made from discarded biomass, to sustainable aquaculture engineering start-up SEAentia.

sea puffin

The Lisbon Oceanarium studies vulnerable and endangered ocean-dwelling species, including birds such as this Atlantic puffin. Image by Pedro Pina

At the heart of dos Santos’s mission to provide better information and education about the role of the ocean in maintaining a healthy planet lies the Oceanário de Lisboa. The newly refurbished facility is the largest indoor oceanarium in Europe and one of the city’s major attractions. Home to large collections of marine life, it had 1.4 million visitors in 2019.

“The Oceanário de Lisboa is at the heart of what we do,” he explains. “People go there and the effect on them is fantastic. They can see that below the surface of the water, the ocean is a place full of life that we have a responsibility to protect.”

Read more: British artist Petroc Sesti on his nature-inspired artworks

When he is not chairing the Oceano Azul Foundation, dos Santos is heavily involved in the family business. It’s no surprise that he is a staunch advocate of the ability of business owners to move the dial on ocean sustainability. “Business owners can change this,” he says. “I am a great believer in owners because they have a longer term perspective than financial markets.” He is at pains to point out that while he fully appreciates the importance of the financial markets, he is also aware that the long-term view required for sustainability can be at odds with short-term market expectations of publicly owned companies. “You need courage to do this; it’s not always good for your short-term share price,” he says.

men in suits

José Soares dos Santos with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening of an exhibition at the Oceanarium, 2020. Image by Pedro Pina

As an example, he cites his family’s decision to remove all plastic from its businesses’ supply chains. “This is a huge transformation. It will cost a lot and take many years.” A publicly owned firm would struggle not only with the complexities of executing such a decision, but also with shareholders and hedge funds that prioritise short-term profitability. Consequently, such businesses may want to do the right thing, but be unable to follow through, he says.

By contrast, successful privately held family businesses are often built on long-term investment strategies. They appreciate the win-win of sustainable investing, but in turn often lack good quality information about what to invest in. This, too, is where the Oceano Azul Foundation has a role to play. “When we talk to owners, we can see they are worried. But they often do not know what to do. This is the bridge we have to cross – I can go out there and explain the issue, but I also have to provide the instruments.”

Read more: Marine biologist Douglas McCauley on environmental philanthropy

Creating the right framework for sustainable blue economy investment is thus crucial, he says, and the Oceano Azul Foundation’s Blue Azores programme is a model for how this can be achieved. The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, is an Atlantic archipelago that is home to some highly diverse and under-pressure marine environments and ecosystems. In partnership with the Regional Government of the Azores and Waitt Foundation, the Foundation has run two scientific research expeditions, the result of which was the February 2019 signing of a memorandum of understanding for both the conservation of those environments and the sustainable development of resources and fisheries within the area.

As a result of the memorandum, 15 per cent of the Azores Exclusive Economic Zone will be designated as marine fully protected areas, with comprehensive plans for the sustainable development of resources and fisheries within the zone – in line with the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals, among others – to follow.

building in the sea

The Oceanarium building, designed by Peter Chermayeff in 1998. Image by Pedro Pina

Blue Azores is a great example of what can be achieved through a marriage of government, society and business investment, says dos Santos. “The Azores government has an outstanding leader who appreciates the need to take political decisions that will go beyond his term of office. It makes the Azores a very good place to invest, because there are programmes there that you can measure, and you can see making a difference. They will be good for the fishing industry, but also for the preservation of the oceans.”

It’s precisely that kind of win-win that dos Santos believes is key to building a stronger, better understood and more resilient approach to marine conservation and development. It’s a big job, but he has faith that it can be done – and more quickly than you might expect. “I am a great believer in humankind – given the right circumstances, we are capable of achieving extraordinary things and really making a difference to the planet.”

Lisbon Oceanarium

Opened in 1998 and designed by architect Peter Chermayeff, who also conceived the design for the Osaka Oceanarium, the spectacular Oceanário de Lisboa is home to some 16,000 marine organisms representing 450 species from across the globe. The attraction’s centrepiece is a vast tank containing five million litres of sea water, in which approximately 100 species – including sharks, rays and a giant sunfish – swim in near-ocean conditions.

The Oceanario is also the base for dedicated teams of experts in education and ocean conservation, including more than 30 highly qualified marine biologists. Its educational outreach programmes reach more than 100,000 school children every year.

Find out more: oceanoazulfoundation.org

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue.

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uderwater submarine

OceanX’s sub Deep Rover filming for ‘Blue Planet II’ in Cocos Island in the Pacific Ocean, 2015. Image by Ian Kellett.

Once the sea casts its spell, it holds you in its net of wonder forever. So said the legendary Jacques Cousteau, and so it is with Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds. Together with his son Mark, Dalio created OceanX to raise awareness of the seas through exploration, film, media and science. LUX speaks to them about their visionary philanthropic venture. By Sophie Marie Atkinson

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

man in wetsuit

Ray Dalio. Image by Didier Noirot.

In an age when several billionaires have set their sights on a new age space race, Ray Dalio’s heart belongs to a different frontier.

It’s one that, unlike our solar system, has seen untold destruction over the past 50 years alone. Coral bleaching is the devastating result of climate change, chemicals used in agriculture routinely end up in the water, killing marine plants and shellfish, and, according to Greenpeace, a truckload of plastic is tipped into the ocean every single minute.

Fascinatingly, the recent coronavirus pandemic has seen marine life rebound. A decline in the number of visitors to beaches has allowed endangered species of turtles more space to lay their eggs. Quieter oceans have led to incredible footage of marine life resurging around the world, including pods of dolphins and sperm whales off the coasts of Fujairah in the UAE and Sri Lanka. But how do we harness this effect, one of the few positives to emerge from an otherwise devastating situation? Ray Dalio – philanthropist, entrepreneur and founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds – has a few ideas.

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Dalio, who started Bridgewater in his two-bedroom apartment in New York in 1975 before growing the firm into one of the most important private companies in the US, first felt the tug of underwater exploration decades ago. Like many others, his interest was sparked by the father of modern-day diving.

“I watched Jacques Cousteau’s films and documentaries growing up,” explains Dalio, whose personal fortune is almost $19 billion, “and they made me incredibly curious about the underwater world. I’ve always felt this pull towards nature and the wilderness. I started diving in my early 20s, I think. At first, I would charter a boat, then I bought one of my own.” But a yacht, which to many others of significant wealth would be the natural next step, never appealed to Ray, who has given away more than $760 million to philanthropic causes and has called the US wealth gap a national emergency. “I wanted an exploration boat,” he says. Half a century later, Dalio and his converted lift ship, a much-coveted exploration boat, have been central to several high-profile aquatic missions.

So far, MV Alucia has helped capture the first-ever footage of the elusive giant squid; aided in the search for Air France Flight 447; taken Leonardo DiCaprio on a submersible dive for his documentary film, Before the Flood, and travelled to new depths for BBC Earth’s Blue Planet. The last of these was made in partnership with OceanX (formerly Alucia Productions), of which Dalio is Founder and his youngest son Mark is Founder and Creative Director. OceanX’s sole mission is to explore the ocean and reveal its discoveries to the world.

ocean ship

OceanX’s new research vessel OceanXplorer. Courtesy OceanX

But where did this intense desire to educate others come from? “For me,” Dalio explains, “there was an intellectual awareness of the issues, and then there was actually witnessing them first-hand. I would dive in certain places, like the Great Barrier Reef, and then return many years later and see how much had changed. I’d see how much more pollution there was, and how much illegal fishing was going on. I’d see locals trying to eke out a living in the face of these huge trawlers that were decimating underwater life.”

Read more: How ethical blue economy investments support ocean conservation

This had a big effect on him personally. “But I knew that not everyone had experienced what I had,” he continues. “With the ocean, there is of course a surface, and if you don’t penetrate the surface, what you experience instead is a reflection. But when you dive, you go beyond that reflection. You get a glimpse of precisely what’s going on and how this world is changing. You speak to people about how populations of fish are dying. You see and understand the impact of plastic in the ocean and of people treating it like a toilet. Add into this equation the extreme beauty of the sea, and the fact that I had been learning about it through scientists and fellow explorers. So, when my financial circumstances were such that I could truly get involved in a big way, I realised I could not only support explorations, but that I could also start showing them to the wider world.”

two men on the stage

Mark and Ray Dalio at the OceanX launch in 2018. Image by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for OceanX

Mark was working at National Geographic at the time, Ray explains. “We got talking and decided that we needed to bring it back to the world, we needed to share these incredible stories. And so we did.”

On a mission, Ray and Mark began to partner with others who shared their enthusiasm for the ocean. They worked with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on explorations and collaborated with the BBC on Blue Planet II, which was shot on their own ship. They filmed the giant squid for the first time. Slowly, awareness of their work began to spread through their own social media efforts and exhibitions.

“We wanted to get what we had helped produce for Blue Planet II into science centres and museums,” explains Mark. “We partnered with the American Museum of Natural History. We took a lot of the amazing content from the ‘Deep Ocean’ episode and created an interactive exhibit for families and kids to enjoy, featuring a giant screen film that we co-produced. This, too, was geared towards a younger audience.

Read more: Signature African Art’s Khalil Akar on Black Lives Matter

“We didn’t go too heavy on the science, but there were undertones of it. Our vision was that families would watch this series, then go into a museum and have a more in-depth, interpersonal and educational experience.”

“Mark and I became deeply entrenched in these projects,” Dalio continues, “and then we started to get other philanthropists involved. We realised there were synergies between us and those with similar visions. We – Mark and I – knew that we could bring our platform and the ship as well as media capabilities. We sought people who were interested in that offering. That led us to James Cameron.”

Cameron, the director of Avatar and Titanic, is partner of OceanX. Like the Dalios, he’s an ocean advocate and also an avid diver – at one point he was a record holder for his solo descent to the deepest place in the ocean, the Mariana Trench off the western Pacific (his title was usurped by Victor Vescovo in 2019, who, unnervingly, found a plastic bag on the sea floor at nearly 11km). Cameron will head back underwater for Mission OceanX, a series co-produced by OceanX and BBC Studios along with himself for National Geographic. This follows the maiden voyage of the OceanXplorer, the younger sibling of Alucia. “The greatest nature filmmakers in existence will be coming together on our new ship,” Dalio says.

submarine

OceanX’s vessel Alucia while filming in Antartica for ‘Blue Planet II’ in 2017. Image by Ian Kellett

“This is the way I look at it,” he continues. “Oceans are utterly integral to our daily lives. And for me personally, it’s much more exciting than venturing to outer space. I’m not knocking it, by any means, but if you want to see aliens, you’re not going to see them by travelling to Mars. You’re going to see them here.”

As Dalio says, if you compare the ocean area to that of the land, there’s twice as much to explore underwater. “And think how much we’ve unearthed up here,” he continues. “All of the plants and their medicinal purposes – imagine what else we might discover in terms of much needed breakthroughs, cures and vaccines.”

Research and expeditions are expensive, though. Ray estimates that around 200 times more funding goes into space than aquatics, even though the health of our oceans is on a knife edge. Despite this, Philippe Cousteau – grandson of Jacques and an oceanographer in his own right – stresses that it’s not too late to save them from complete destruction. In an interview with Agence France-Presse in June 2020, he emphasised that humanity not only has the tools at its disposal, but, crucially, we already know that they work. He went on to stress the importance of what he believes to be an integral initiative: establishing areas on Earth that are protected. At present, only five per cent of the oceans are officially safeguarded, but there’s a growing movement to ensure that this reaches 30 per cent by 2030.

Read more: British artist Petroc Sesti on his nature-inspired artworks

He believes that the documenting of expeditions and promotion of the work being undertaken is at the heart of spreading that message. “I like to think that we can create change through the stories we tell on television, in classrooms, through social media, on cruise ships – and it’s really all about exploring our world,” he says in an interview with Condé Nast Traveller. “Because what is travel if not telling stories?”

Blue Planet II was a great awakener to this way of thinking. So much so that there’s a term for the impact it had – the Blue Planet effect. It’s reported that a remarkable 88 per cent of people who watched the programme changed their behaviour, from carrying reusable coffee cups to shunning plastic packaging. But, Ray points out, a TV series like this is finite. “You watch it and then it’s over. What we and our partners aspire to is a constant stream of content.” Enter Mission OceanX, which will air on a weekly basis. And as well as the TV show, fans will be able to interact and engage further through social media. Their aim, in fact, is to build a global community.

man looking into fish tank

Mark Dalio

The show, due to air in 2022, will also be character driven, something that will set it apart from previous natural history series. Cameron has even suggested that the format could come close to that of reality TV. As he told Variety, it will get under the skin of the people and the mission. “I want to follow these people. I want to know how they think; I want to understand their passion as explorers and as ocean scientists… that burning curiosity.”

OceanX is, however, wary of coming across as preachy. “Our intention is to inspire a love of the ocean, as well as intrigue and excitement,” says Ray. “That will manifest itself in many different ways – people will be thirsty to explore it and, crucially, protect it. Children will aspire to be marine biologists. And hopefully new and existing projects alike will start to treat it with the importance it deserves.”

Alongside this optimism, Dalio is also aware of how much there is to do. “When it comes to the aquatic world, we simply haven’t scratched the surface yet,” he says. “Not in a way that’s relative to its potential. What we’re currently doing with OceanX is just the beginning of the journey. Our hope is that we can provide an escape that also inspires.”

Dalio is conscious that this must be more than entertainment. “We want to provide people with beautiful content that of course they enjoy, but that also helps them to pinpoint the issues that need to be addressed and prompts them to ask themselves, ‘how can I get involved?’,” he explains. “Those small sparks, that’s what we’re looking for. It’s the Cousteau movement. He inspired so many pioneers and ocean explorers today, like me, and we’re trying to reignite that.”

Find out more: oceanx.org

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue.

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The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, located off the coast of California. Image by NOAA/Mark Norder

Douglas McCauley directs the Benioff Ocean Initiative, the philanthropic organisation created by billionaire Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne. McCauley, a marine biologist, says that philanthropists can do much more to save the oceans than simply write a cheque

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

man holding goggles

Douglas McCauley. Image by Jonathan Little.

We all have an opportunity and responsibility to do something for ocean health, whatever walk of life we are from. The ocean has paid us some service – and this service can be reciprocated.

I grew up in Los Angeles and if you’ve passed through the Greater Los Angeles area you get a sense that there is a whole lot of concrete and man-made change on land. And then you hit the coast and you have this big, beautiful uninterrupted space. So, for me the first debt of gratitude that I have to the oceans is that they were my escape to a world where I could find wilderness and immerse myself in the beauty of the ocean. And there was the practical side: the ocean provided me with my dinner – it gave me employment and income.

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For most people, the debt that they owe the ocean is different. For some people, such as Marc and Lynne Benioff, their identity has been shaped by ocean places such as San Francisco and Hawaii where they’ve lived and raised kids. The ocean has given them a lot of inspiration and beauty and knowledge. To be in a place that is so ancient and to be part of the majesty of the ocean and to experience such a mindful reset, and then to jump back into life on land and manage it successfully, means that you as an individual have drawn some value from the solitude and exaltation felt when by the ocean.

In the arrangement that we forged, Marc and I are each trying to repay some portion of that debt. As an ocean scientist, I can use the tools, our networks and our laboratories to try to be helpful, and Marc uses his resources, his influence, his network, to help create change. These two worlds together are really powerful.

For many people, the oceans feel very remote from us, making it a harder environment as a philanthropic domain to connect with. But there are some very practical ways that the oceans, even if they are remote, do provide benefits to all of us. The most universal of these is that the ocean, as it lives and breathes, as it aspires and photosynthesizes, produces half of the oxygen on the planet.

That means that whether you’re in seaside Miami or in landlocked Geneva, every other breath that you take comes from the oceans. It is a life-support system and certainly enough reason for us to connect to make sure that it continues to be fully functioning and healthy. When you do actually recognise that you have a debt to repay to the oceans, it is important to return the favour to the sea, to repay that debt.

The numbers of people who have made that reconnection to the oceans and have become champions for the seas are relatively few in the world of philanthropy. Statistics estimate that approximately one per cent of philanthropy is dedicated to the oceans. There are so many important causes on the planet that deserve our attention and investment but for a living place that encompasses two-thirds of our planet and provides us with half of our breaths, perhaps it deserves more from us. Each individual’s philanthropic portfolio matters, because each one incrementally will help us move a little bit further north of that one per cent.

bird flying over sharks

Building partnerships with scientists and science can be powerful and create some symbiotic opportunities. Almost all of us have a relationship with a university, and we might be surprised that there are centres and hubs of ocean excellence in many universities, and not just places on the coast. For example, ETH in Zurich, Switzerland is one such hub of excellence.

Read more: How ethical blue economy investments support ocean conservation

Unfortunately, the problems facing ocean health are so large that there has to be a critical mass. No one single university is going to be able to change things. So a lot of what we are trying to do is create a template by which we can activate our colleagues and peers to demonstrate that we can actually make a difference.

For example, when you’re looking at an issue such as plastic pollution, in which you have more than five trillion pieces of plastic in the global oceans, that is too big an issue for any one organisation to solve. So we are trying to create this model to facilitate change by creating open tools that will not only help and but also become replicable in other places.

That is one reason why working with Marc Benioff has been so successful. He is a problem solver who has built a globally successful company. There is much that we have learned from him about the general mechanics of problem solving, and about the many tools that cross that boundary, such as the ones we use in ocean problem solving that originally were designed for industry and technology.

When we started working with the Benioffs, I had the incorrect assumption that we would have a few starter conversations, they would send us a cheque, and we would be off on our own to try to figure this out. But the most valuable thing that they did for us was not send us the cheque. Instead, the most valuable thing that they did for us was to open up their networks and to share their expertise, and to very usefully help match us with people that could have a part of a solution that we needed.

Find out more: boi.ucsb.edu; labs.eemb.ucsb.edu/mccauley/doug/

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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crashing waves

From David Eustace’s series ‘Mar a Bha’, which translates from Gaelic to ‘As It Was’

The investment community is waking up to the opportunities in our oceans. Impactful ethical investments in the blue economy can involve plastic waste prevention, sustainable seafood, maritime transport, eco-tourism and more

Photography by David Eustace

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX 

Robert Goodwin was on a mission to solve Haiti’s cholera problem. For nine years after the island nation’s devastating 2010 earthquake, periodic cholera outbreaks started hurting communities, doing the most damage to people with limited access to clean water and sanitation. The country’s clogged water canals were to blame for spreading the disease. Goodwin, the former CEO of Executives Without Borders, started looking at why the canals were so clogged. “I’m a root-cause guy,” says Goodwin. “I knew that cholera was a water-borne disease and saw that flooding was causing all the transmission. When I looked at the canals and what was causing the flooding, I saw that it was a lot of plastic trash that could have been recycled.”

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Haitian communities could recycle materials such as metal and aluminium, but there was little in the way of plastic recycling infrastructure. So, Goodwin started a business, paying local people to pick up plastic trash and then sort it by colour, weight and type. They were paid cash on the spot. Goodwin’s efforts eventually grew into a new company, OceanCycle, a New York-based social enterprise aiming to help businesses integrate ocean-bound plastics into their products and improve traceability across the supply chain. (Ocean-bound plastic is the waste from areas in close proximity to the coast, where cutting off streams of plastic before they reach the ocean is most critical.) Companies such as OceanCycle are part of the growing blue economy, which the World Bank defines as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem”.

“We want to turn off the tap,” says Goodwin. “Once the plastic has been in the water for too long it breaks down and it’s harder to recycle. If we want to stop the flow of any new plastic into the ocean by 2030 we have to put a value on recycling ocean-bound plastic.” Consumers around the world are more interested in ridding the ocean of plastic than they have ever been. More than 90 countries have placed some kind of ban on plastic bags, straws or other single-use plastics. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicted in 2017 that unless things changed the ocean could contain more plastics than fish by 2050. Consumers wanting to protect the ocean are becoming an incentive to create a now fast-growing market for cleaning up ocean trash. Sportswear company Adidas has teamed up with non-profit Parley for the Oceans to sell trail-running shoes made with ocean plastic, Method makes dish-soap containers from plastic picked up on the beaches of Hawaii, and Patagonia is making jackets from yarn derived in part from fishing nets. But plastic is only part of the new blue economy.

Approximately 70 per cent of our planet is covered by water and the ocean is a critical resource providing food for three billion people around the world. Seaweeds and miniscule ocean plants known as phytoplankton provide more than half of the oxygen we breathe, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are approximately 680 million people around the world living in low-lying ocean areas, and the blue economy, which includes tourism, fishing and shipping, generates $3 trillion of economic output each year, according to the United Nations. All told, the services provided to humanity by the oceans are valued at $24 trillion and create a value of more than $2.5 trillion each year.

Read more: Deutsche Bank’s Claudio de Sanctis on investing in the ocean

But we don’t own the oceans or pay them for their services. “The ocean is not just a provider of value. It also helps us to digest the negative results of industrialisation,” says Markus Mueller, Global Head of the Chief Investment Office at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management. “There’s also a deep human attachment to our coastal regions. The ocean gives an emotional connection,” Mueller says. “People are divers and go on vacation at the beach. They’ve seen all this plastic in the sea.”

Beyond ocean plastic, the oceans have seen fish stocks depleted, coral reefs die and beaches recede as a consequence of human activity. It’s not a case of the tragedy of the commons, in which people who act in their self-interest spoil a shared resource. But, Mueller explains, the oceans “are more or less a tragedy of laissez-faire because they’re not governed. We need some governance around this to prevent tragedy and right now there is no incentive system that gives us the direction on what to do.” Some countries, including small island nations such as Seychelles, are issuing blue bonds that prioritise ocean health, and the Maldives is working to vastly reduce plastic waste. But governance is much needed.

A report published in September 2019 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated the world’s oceans are experiencing drastic changes. And these changes are not only impacting people and the planet but also placing the global economy at risk. The report highlighted the troubling changes occurring across oceans as a result of increased emissions from greenhouse gases. Oceans are absorbing 30 per cent of carbon emissions, making them a crucial resource in the fight against climate change. The report predicted that sea levels will rise by up to a metre by 2100, there will be markedly fewer fish in the oceans and stronger, more intense hurricanes will cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage.

sunsetting over the ocean

From David Eustace’s ‘Highland Heart’ series

Investing in the blue economy is just beginning, but it’s expected to grow at a faster rate than traditional investments. In 2018, the World Bank announced PROBLUE, an umbrella multi-donor trust fund (MDTF), with the goal of supporting healthy and productive oceans. PROBLUE is part of the World Bank’s overall blue economy programme, which takes a co-ordinated approach to ensure sustainable oceans and coastal resources. Focused on four key themes, the fund was created out of client demand, and to aid the bank towards a better understanding of the current and emerging threats facing the world’s oceans.

Most investments in ocean-related assets at this stage are privately held venture-capital or private-equity firms, and opportunities reach far beyond plastic-waste prevention, to sustainable seafood, maritime transport, eco-tourism and coastal adaptation.

“Oceans have played a critical role in mitigating climate change – they have stored 93 per cent of the planet’s carbon, and produce over 50 per cent of the oxygen,” says impact investor Shally Shanker of AiiM Partners Fund, based in Palo Alto, California. “Every second breath we take comes from the oceans. Ocean ecosystems are deeply interconnected with land and air. Yet, oceans remain a very underinvested sector.”

Read more: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on benefits of the blue economy

Some of the blue economy-based investments Shanker is focusing on include sustainable replacements for plastic and Styrofoam, reducing antibiotics in farmed seafood and cost-effective data collection. Since three billion people depend upon the oceans for their primary source of protein, food security and growing protein demand are other areas of her work’s focus. Sixty per cent of new seafood demand is coming from India and China – two emerging economies each with populations of more than one billion. To identify viable replacements, Shanker says she is investing in plant-based and cell-based seafood alternatives. “Most of the problems in the ocean start on land,” she says.

Redesigning humanity’s relationship with the ocean is no easy task. There’s no choice but to start taking better care of the seas, because our economy has changed them. Coral reefs worldwide, for example, continue to be ravaged by bleaching. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands saw the worst bleaching on record for three years in a row. “The Red Sea, where I grew up, is the most luscious sea on Earth because it is the newest sea,” says Ibrahim AlHusseini, an entrepreneur and environmentalist who has founded impact investing firm FullCycle. AlHusseini, a lifelong scuba diver, became an environmental investor 15 years ago when he noticed the sea was changing. “I would go back and go scuba diving and year after year there were fewer fish, less coral, less vibrancy and more plastic,” he says. “I just remember thinking, what is the point of accumulating all of this financial success if the things that I enjoy are fading away?” He spent a year studying ‘carbon math’, ocean toxicity and climate change, before deciding to invest in companies such as Synova Power, a waste-to-energy business that can create synthetic gas from plastic waste heated to high temperatures, and then harness it for power.

The ocean’s great resources could also hold a key to the best materials of the future. Seaweed, kelp and algae production was valued as a $55 billion market in 2018, but the market could expand to $95 billion by 2025. In Amsterdam, a start-up called Seamore is turning seaweed into bacon and pasta equivalents, while biofuel producers also use it. US-based start-up Loliware is creating compostable alternatives to plastic out of seaweed. “It’s plentiful and highly regenerative and sequesters carbon 20 times faster than trees,” says Chelsea ‘Sea’ Briganti, the founder of Loliware, which is developing nine products that use seaweed instead of plastic packaging material.

Investors who want to put money to work in service of the oceans should push companies to provide better data about their impacts, and also think creatively about what they do and don’t want in their portfolios, says Mueller. “All companies thinking about using natural resources are the profiteers from it. So, transparency is a key factor – if the impact of cruise liners and shipping companies becomes more transparent, investors can adjust.” There are new rules in effect in 2020, for example, from the International Maritime Organization to prevent atmospheric pollution from ships. Shippers are investing in scrubber technology and cleaner fuel, but data for investors about the impact of the changes is lacking.

The key to sustaining the oceans in the future is to rethink how humanity extracts resources from it. “We have to protect the value the ocean is providing rather than overusing it”, Mueller says. To make the blue economy work we have to replace old business models with more sustainable ones, then we have to put a lid on it.”

blue sky and ocean

Ocean Learning

As sustainable development in a blue economy develops, the first step is awareness: to think beyond the traditional extractive economy to a regenerative one. A blue economy improves biodiversity as well as food and job security for local communities, while limiting pollution and preserving the ocean’s role as a carbon sink. Here are some private organisations focused on blue economy education.

Lisbon Oceanarium

With its almost 1,800km of coastline, Portugal is using its historic relationship with the sea to show how the blue economy can aid economic growth. The Oceano Azul Foundation, led by José Soares dos Santos, is working with the Lisbon Oceanarium to teach future generations about ocean conservation and promoting the ethical values of using marine resources sustainably.

oceanario.pt

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium runs programmes on topics from cleaning up ocean plastic to how to restore the Pacific blue-fin tuna population. The aquarium, founded in the 1970s and supported by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, has become a centre of various blue economy initiatives. Its Center for Ocean Solutions is searching for ways, such as protecting kelp forests, to fight climate change.

montereybayaquarium.org

Musée Océanographique de Monaco

The museum, located on the Rock of Monaco, highlights hundreds of species that live in the Mediterranean. The Monaco Blue Initiative, launched by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco in 2010, is focused on marine protected areas that can help conserve unique ocean species and habitats.

musee.oceano.org

Find out more: deutschewealth.com

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 10 min
house in the water
house in the water

The Lisbon Oceanarium, Europe’s largest informational and educational space on the oceans, is operated by a foundation launched by Portugal’s Dos Santos family. Image by Paulo Maxim

Claudio de Sanctis, the new Global Head of Wealth Management at Deutsche Bank, has been passionate about the oceans since he was young. He now sees the blue economy – the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth – as a major and necessary target for investments. LUX speaks with him to discover why

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man in suit

Claudio de Sanctis

LUX: How did your interest in ocean conservation arise?
Claudio de Sanctis: It’s something that goes back to my childhood. I was brought up in Italy and school summers there are very long. I spent a good portion of that time in the water snorkelling and skin diving in the Mediterranean and I developed an incredibly strong connection to the sea and the life in it. You carry forward that passion for animals and life in the sea; and then, if you are 47 as I am now and you are still spending your holidays diving in the sea with your family, you witness first-hand the changes that have gone on. You have this passion, you have witnessed this crisis, and there is a part of you that says something needs to be done.

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LUX: You have personally noticed the environmental changes in the sea?
Claudio de Sanctis: One hundred per cent. If you don’t dive or spend time underwater, the ocean may seem like a beautiful, big, blue expanse and it’s difficult to perceive how it’s changing; it looks as beautiful now as it did 50 years ago. But if you do actually spend time underwater, you then notice that the Mediterranean, for example, has changed dramatically. In the past 40 years, plastic has replaced fish. There were previously a lot of fish, and now there are far fewer and plastic is popping up more and more so it’s now almost impossible to get underwater without seeing a large amount. Also, tropical fish are being seen in Greece, for example, which is a concern as it suggests a very significant change in temperature. If you go to the tropics, the situation is very similar. I have less than 20 years’ experience diving in the tropics, but even in that time, the situation has deteriorated and reefs have disappeared.

LUX: And this is what inspired your focus on the blue economy, which includes ocean conservation and much more besides.
Claudio de Sanctis: That’s correct. There are two fundamental beliefs informing this. One is that institutions such as Deutsche Bank have a fantastic history, if you realise that, for example, we have invested in young artists for the past 40 years for no other reason than social responsibility. While we are a business for profit, doing things because they are relevant and important for the societies we operate in, and because it’s right to be doing them, is important. In that context, we try to do things that are relevant to our clients. I meet clients on a daily basis and more often than not, the discussion will turn to conservation and particularly ocean conservation, and the strongest message I get is one of interest and one of alarm. “How can I help?”, they ask. And that’s how the blue economy comes into play because I believe that the best way to protect the sea is actually to explain to everybody the extraordinary sustainable, long-term economic value it has. There is a lot we need to explain to the world, such as the fact that we breathe because of the ocean; if we damage the ocean beyond a certain point, we won’t be able to breathe air any more. This is very much where education comes into play. And if you understand how the ocean can produce long-term economic development for low-income, underdeveloped countries, that is very relevant. If it’s properly harnessed, the blue-economy potential for a country such as Indonesia is extraordinary. It can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and give them long-term prospects.

LUX: Are there increasing investment opportunities for the blue economy?
Claudio de Sanctis: There are, but there is so much more to be done, which is why the conference we are holding is so interesting. At the moment it is a very thin market but you essentially have three main drivers. The first one is very wealthy families who set up dedicated foundations, which in turn invest long term in ocean conservation and the blue economy. In that space, education plays a massive role. Secondly, if you don’t want to have a dedicated foundation then you can invest in financial instruments. There are more and more liquid financial instruments starting with blue bonds that allow you to contribute capital with a certain degree of return in order to help these underlying themes. The last element that we need to develop is investing directly in companies as more start up with a blue economy angle.

LUX: Will the blue economy become more important within environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing in general?
Claudio de Sanctis: That’s a very good question. My view is that when it comes to ESG, there is no need to put different sub-themes within ESG into competition. There is so much need for more across the board. I can say that interest in ocean conservation and the blue economy is growing exponentially and the awareness of it is growing extraordinarily fast because it’s tied to very important problems. I mean, science has now led us to understand that the oxygen for two breaths in every three comes from the sea, which is something that, five to ten years ago, very few people knew. So if you pollute the sea to a point that that sort of oxygen production slows down, you have a huge problem, because we’re not going to be replanting a lot of forest in the next 50 years. And planting forest takes a long time. Most of the ESG themes are fundamentally interlinked. For example, ocean conservation, blue economy and climate change all interlock.

Read more: Fashion designer Kevin Germanier’s sustainable glamour

LUX: Do companies who may believe they are not responsible for, say, ocean degradation because they are based far from the sea, need to be made aware of this interlocking, that the ocean is relevant to them?
Claudio de Sanctis: That is a very fundamental point. Awareness is everything and in my view, the awareness we need to create is not so much in the companies as in the end consumer. Everybody needs to understand the relevance of this resource, that the ocean is deteriorating and what the consequences of this are. And then on the positive side, what are the opportunities we can extract from the sea if we actually manage it properly? When we talk of the problem of plastic in the oceans, everyone thinks of the poor albatross found with plastic in its stomach, which is a significant problem. It’s an easier problem to grasp than microplastics, which are less visible. But while plastic bottle and bag waste affects marine mammals and sea birds, it is microplastics that affect fish. And the biggest polluting factor in the plastic problem is our clothing. Every time we wash our clothes in a washing machine, particularly anything that has plastic fibres, we release microplastics into the ocean. This is just an example, and this is why we need education, because there is so much more that we need to know and that we need consumers to know because it is they who ultimately drive politicians and purchasing.

LUX: What would you like to achieve through your blue economy programme?
Claudio de Sanctis: In our business we talk to a number of very significant families about what it means to actually have positive impact. So even if we help a few of these families be more aware of the problems and solutions, that is already gratifying for me personally in terms of helping the cause. From a Deutsche Bank point of view, my aspiration is that in the next two to three years when Wealth Management clients think about oceans, they think about ocean conservation and economic development tied to that. And then they think of Deutsche Bank and pick up the phone and speak to their banker here.

Find out more: deutschewealth.com

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 7 min
women on a farm
women on a farm

Marie-Claire Daveu with Elodie Brunstein of ecological engineers Solicaz in French Guiana. Image by Magneto.

The Kering group, owner of Gucci and Bottega Veneta, led the luxury industry by pioneering a sustainability strategy years ago. Marie-Claire Daveu, who spearheaded this move, explains how environmental accounting and the blue economy are good for business, consumers and the planet

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woman smiling

Marie-Claire Daveu. © Benoît Peverelli

The fashion industry is dependent upon nature’s resources to manufacture. It is also a vast industry and, unfortunately, one of the most polluting. This means we have a specific responsibility to act now and transform our business model to mitigate the diminution of resources, loss of biodiversity and climate change that we already see affecting our industry and our planet. Sustainability is not an option; it is a necessity. And it demands definitive action from the fashion industry and beyond.

The blue economy in particular has to be a huge focus for everyone. The oceans are the lungs of the Earth, producing more than half the world’s oxygen and helping regulate our weather. But in the past few hundred years they have absorbed vast amounts of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, raising their temperature and changing their chemistry and ecosystems. Marine animals and humans rely on the oceans to live, and the only way to mitigate the harm being done is to change the way we operate here on land – from reducing plastic and chemical waste to choosing renewable energy sources where possible.

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Kering has already implemented a series of measures specifically in recognition of the rapidly degrading ocean environment. We have been working for years to preserve ocean biodiversity via programmes and partnerships with recognised associations – most recently, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). And in 2017, our chairman and CEO, François-Henri Pinault, presented the Fashion Pact to the G7, incorporating ocean protection as one of its main environmental goals. It proposes a set of concrete actions, such as the adoption of pollution controls to safeguard the rivers and oceans from chemicals released through the fashion production processes; and compels companies to develop innovations that will eliminate microfibre pollution from the washing of synthetic materials.

Such innovation is vital to growing a sustainable blue economy. In 2017, we committed to reducing our environmental footprint by 40 per cent by 2025, and half of that reduction will come from innovation, which is crucial if we want to bring new solutions into our business model.

Today, we are looking for and investing in innovations that can address blue economy challenges, including closed-loop recycling, alternative materials and sustainable sourcing. But there is still a long way to go. One of the main challenges the blue economy is facing is plastic, used to pack, transport and store garments. The fashion industry needs to urgently tackle polybag-packaging waste. One possible innovation has been developed by the Plastics Packaging Project – a Fashion for Good initiative supported by a coalition of companies, including Kering. The project aims to reduce the impact and use of plastic packaging, and recently launched a pilot for the collection and recycling of garment polybags. They will be transformed into new plastic film products, closing the loop and dramatically reducing the amount of plastic waste that often ends up in our waterways.

hands holding material

Kering’s Materials Innovation Lab. Image by Jean-Luc Perreard

Transparency will be vital to the longevity of such initiatives. Studies show that millennials and Generation Z are very sensitive to sustainability – with a keen focus on traceability. They also have very high expectations. Generation Z entering the workforce, together with increasing sustainability questions from consumers, will drive further efforts in the fashion industry and increased transparency around a product’s origins.

Read more: These photographer-activists are capturing underwater beauty

Corporate sustainability agendas must take into account a product’s entire impact, from the raw materials to products reaching clients. At Kering, this has become an essential part of our products’ excellence, and we have made that process transparent through the creation of our Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) system, which measures, monetises and monitors the full environmental impact of a company’s operations across the entire supply chain, including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, water and air pollution, waste production and land use change. When you think about what is behind luxury, sustainability is often already built in: we use the highest quality raw materials; our products are made by skilled craftspeople; and some of them are passed down from generation to generation. They have to be perfect; even their sustainability must be perfect.

Building a sustainability strategy is about taking your whole supply chain and its impacts into account, and activating programmes to mitigate these impacts. The blue economy can be fully part of an environmental policy, and sustainability as a whole should be very much integrated in a company’s strategy. As an example, we know that the high-quality raw materials in luxury goods are ‘pre-designed’ for circularity, because of their value and versatility. But brands can extend product life cycles even further by employing recycled and upcycled materials. One blue-economy example within our supply chain is our collaboration with Econyl, makers of regenerated nylon yarn made of recycled fishnets, textile and industrial nylon waste. It has the same high quality as less sustainable alternatives, but can be endlessly regenerated.

Innovative collaborations such as these are the answer to accelerating sustainability. Our collaboration with IPBES is helping to strengthen the evidence base for better informed decisions about nature. And our EP&L hackathon in October 2019 brought developers and sustainability experts together to create digital tools that provide greater transparency around fashion’s footprint.

The message is clear: we want to play a pivotal role in leading the shift towards a sustainable future, but we can’t do it alone. Our action must be science-based and results-oriented. The private sector, governments and international organisations need to collaborate to protect nature and build a globally sustainable economy.

I am a very optimistic person, and I can see that a real shift has happened recently. Sustainability is at the heart of every conversation, both from companies and media, and this is a very good sign. Now it’s time for implementation, with unwavering determination. Fashion’s influence holds the key to accelerating those sustainable practices, both within our industry and beyond.

Marie-Claire Daveu is Kering’s chief sustainability officer.

Find out more: kering.com/en/sustainability

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Better stewardship of the oceans is at the heart of the blue economy and is the core message of the next generation of environmental campaigners for ocean conservation. Here are the activists a new generation is listening to

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SHAILENE WOODLEY

Age: 28
Instagram: 4.4m
Twitter: 1.1m

Why: In 2019 the actress joined Greenpeace to study microplastic levels in the Sargasso Sea. The Greenpeace Oceans Ambassador used the damning results to urge the UN, businesses and individuals to commit to protecting 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030.

What she says: “The threat of plastics in our seas not only affects marine life, it affects human lives as well. This is a crisis, and we must work on all fronts to combat the silent emergency we’re in.”

Up next: A social media campaign for ongoing initiatives with Ocean Impact in South Africa and Parley for the Oceans in the US.

@shailenewoodley

AIDAN GALLAGHER

Age: 16
Instagram: 2.6m
Twitter: 181.5K

Why: The star of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy is a vocal supporter of environmental groups including the Oceanic Preservation Society and, at 14, became the youngest ever UN Goodwill Ambassador.

What he says: “More than half of Earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton found in healthy oceans and these and other marine species are dying off due to pollution and overfishing.”

Up next: For the UN’s #ActNow campaign, Gallagher wants fans to adapt their lifestyle to aid conservation efforts, then share those changes on social media

@aidanrgallagher

JADEN SMITH

Age: 21
Instagram: 14.6m
Twitter: 8m

Why: The 21-year-old singer founded JUST Water in 2012 after being deeply affected by plastic pollution along the LA coast. JUST Water’s 100 per cent recyclable water cartons are made using paper from responsibly harvested trees and sugarcane.

What he says: “Sustainability to me is making the right decisions so we can have a better world for tomorrow;
so people don’t have to worry about their air quality, water quality or the quality of their energy.”

Up next: Smith plans to move into other consumer goods and eliminate plastic “one product at a time”.

@c.syresmith

JACK JOHNSON

Age: 44
Instagram: 670K
Twitter: 351.3K

Why: The singer and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador began plastic free tours in 2017. In the same year, he worked on the documentary The Smog of the Sea, about the dangers of microplastics to the oceans.

What he says: “We can’t continue to simply cleanup our coastlines… we need to reduce plastic waste at the source.”

Up next: He’s campaigning in Hawaii to eliminate plastic, and for more musicians to join the BYOBottle plastic-free touring initiative.

@jackjohnson

THE ONES TO WATCH…

AUTUMN PELTIER

Age: 15
Instagram: 115K
Twitter: 2,979

Why: Peltier has been campaigning for universal access to clean water since discovering that waterways in many indigenous Canadian communities are polluted when she was just eight years old. As chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation, she has implored the UN to “warrior up” for water, confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his pipeline policies, and been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize.

What she says: “Water is the lifeblood of Mother Earth. Our water should not be for sale. We all have a right to this water as we need it.”

Up next: Peltier is featuring in the Red Chair Sessions, a photography project that highlights the importance of reclaiming indigenous spaces and languages.

@autumn.peltier

MELATI WIJSEN

Age: 19
Instagram: 44.3K
Twitter: (as @BBPB_bali) 2,141

Why: Wijsen was just 12 years old when she founded Balinese beach clean-up initiative, Bye Bye Plastic Bags, with her sister. After years of petitioning the government, Bali banned single-use plastic in 2019.

What she says: “It was very intuitive to take action when I started to see the growth of plastic pollution – it was everywhere and I knew someone had to do something about it.”

Up next: Wijsen founded Youthtopia in 2020 to help educate and empower young activists. There are now more than 50 Bye Bye Plastic Bag teams in 29 countries continuing her work.

@melatiwijsen

All images courtesy of Instagram.

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 5 min
fish in blue sea
fish in blue sea

Mahi photographed by Annie Guttridge

A new generation of photographer-activists are raising awareness of the beauty under the sea, and creating a call to action to save the oceans

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ANNIE GUTTRIDGE
Photographer, ocean advocate, president of non-profit Saving the Blue

“All my photography is taken while free-diving. I love the peace of taking a single breath and descending towards the ocean floor. It’s a quiet, serene experience, which allows both the diver and animal a calm exchange. My life revolves around the ocean, and I have seen the damage. We can all aid in recovery. My best advice? Start something – many wish to see the world change for the better, but words are easy. Action is where the magic happens.”

Find out more: annieguttridge.com
Follow Annie on Instagram: @annieguttridge

dolphins under the sea

‘Flirting’ by Annie Guttridge

FILIPPO BORGHI
Award-winning photographer and conservationist

“I started photographing underwater 15 years ago. Unfortunately, in recent years, climate change and the increase in pollution have drastically changed most of the seabed. The biggest and most important challenge is raising awareness of the effect of intensive fishing and plastic. This has a terrible effect on marine animals and the marine parks that are the last havens where nature manages to regenerate itself. I hope that my photographs will arouse a desire to protect this unique and important environment.”

Follow Filippo on Instagram: @filippoborghi5

underwater photographer

Filippo Borghi photographed by Mario Odorisio

This article originally appeared in the LUX x Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Blue Economy Special in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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