Innovative financing for the High Seas

Torsten Thiele, Leah Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Innovative financing, that is the development of new funding sources and mechanisms including from the private sector, can be used to deliver promising ocean conservation opportunities. Capital markets are increasingly accessible for sustainable development and climate finance, and are gaining traction for biodiversity conservation. Such financing concepts could also be applied in the High Seas. Drawing on natural capital economics as a way to ascribe economic value, specific marine investment opportunities can be identified and made accessible to new financiers and funding processes. International waters cover nearly half of the planet's surface, yet governance deficiencies have meant that marine habitats and ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating. Improved governance through the proposed Marine Biodiversity Implementing Agreement discussed under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular ocean goal 14, will require additional financial support for High Seas solutions, including for the effective management of marine reserves. For projects to be attractive to funders they need to be clearly structured and deliver quantifiable benefits. A comprehensive ocean data infrastructure could be put in place to support large-scale marine conservation monitoring cost-effectively. This infrastructure could serve also other ocean users, thereby defraying the cost and could be delivered through public–private partnerships. Development finance and climate finance provide examples for relevant pathways for such integrated approaches. Existing efforts to find additional funding for ocean solutions can be enhanced through the range of specific innovative ocean finance mechanisms that are identified. These offer the prospect of long-term support. This review draws on progress made at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawai'i in September 2016 and builds on the momentum created by the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-99
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • acidification
  • climate change
  • ecosystem services
  • high seas
  • marine protected area
  • ocean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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