Building a blue economy in the East Asian Seas

Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) launches two new reports this week at the East Asian Seas Congress 2015 in Danang, Vietnam, exploring the potential for building a “blue economy” in the region.

The reports emphasize the importance of coasts and oceans to business in the region and call for increased investment in coastal and marine ecosystems health and a strategic approach to managing blue economy industries.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 60 percent of the world’s total gross national product comes from areas within 100 kilometers of the coastline. Coastal and marine industries are particularly important in East Asia, comprising 15-20 percent of the gross domestic product in some countries in the region.

Coastal ecosystems face increasing threats that diminish the ecological health, environmental resilience and socioeconomic potential of these rich areas. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports that impacts from overfishing, marine pollution, invasive aquatic species, coastal habitat loss and ocean acidification cost the global economy an estimated US$350 to US$940 billion every year.

Overall, available funds devoted to protecting ecosystems and biodiversity remain small in comparison to the cost of protecting, restoring and maintaining these important resources. By some estimates, the financing gap exceeds at least US$300 billion per year and may reach into the US$ trillions. More investment is needed to protect and enhance critical coastal and marine ecosystems while contributing to sustainable development.

There is no shortage of investment capital available, but investors cite difficulties in sourcing high-quality investable deals in sectors that sustain coastal and marine ecosystem health. At the same time, projects and social enterprises need a better understanding of investor expectations and potential sources of capital.

PEMSEA partnered with Impact Investment Shujog (Shujog), a Singapore-based impact enterprise and impact investing advisory firm, to develop a report exploring the current financial funding flows of an estimated US$10 billion to integrated coastal management (ICM)-related sectors across the grants and investment capital spectrum in 8 countries in East Asia.

Investment Landscape Mapping in East Asia: Integrated Coastal Management and Sustainable Development of Coasts and Oceans identifies regional and country-level trends in ICM funding from bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, development finance institutions, corporations, impact investments and commercial investors across 10 related coastal and marine sectors, and offers recommendations for increasing investments in these sectors.

Sustainable development has become a strategic consideration for companies and investors looking to position themselves competitively amidst disruptive forces, such as climate change, loss of coastlines, marine pollution and overfishing. Companies are exposed to a number of operational, regulatory, reputational, market and financial risks related to proper management of ecosystems. According to research by McKinsey & Company, business value related to these risks could be as high as 25 to 70 percent of earnings (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

The second report, Blue Economy for Business in East Asia: Towards an Integrated Understanding of Blue Economy, examines the work that’s been done on blue economy by international organizations, governments in the region, and increasingly the private sector, offering a practical definition and framework for the concept of blue economy. The report also examines important trends, risks and opportunities across 9 key blue economy industries in the region.

Along with the reports, PEMSEA announced the launch of an East Asian Seas Sustainable Business Network for companies to collaborate on the planning, development and implementation of blue economy in the region. This coalition of companies will provide industry input to government on coastal and marine issues in the region and benefit from links to best practices, policy developments and emerging investment opportunities.

Both reports are now available on the PEMSEA website, http://www.pemsea.org/our-work/blue-economy.

About PEMSEA

Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) is an intergovernmental organization operating in East Asia to foster and sustain healthy and resilient oceans, coasts, communities and economies across the region. Through integrated coastal management solutions and partnerships, PEMSEA works with local and national governments, international development organizations, companies, investors and research institutions towards sustainable development of coasts and oceans in East Asia.

The two reports were made possible with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Development Programme and The World Bank.

For more information and media inquiries, contact:
Ryan Whisnant
+63 (2) 929-2992
rwhisnant@pemsea.org
www.pemsea.org

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