Oceans: Sector Results Profile
The World Bank and the Drive for “Blue Growth”
April 13, 2013
The oceans are currently contributing far less to global economic growth than they could be, largely due to human actions diminishing the ability of underlying natural systems to provide optimal levels of ecosystem services. Ocean ecosystems are changing at a rate and scale not seen since the rise of modern civilization, due largely to anthropogenic drivers resulting from the inability of institutions to sustainably manage human actions.
The four key anthropogenic drivers of change in ocean ecosystem that have resulted from institutional weaknesses are:
Overfishing: Technological improvements coupled with open access to fish stocks have led to roughly one-third of the world’s ocean fisheries being over-exploited or depleted. Fishing capacity is estimated to be 2.5 times greater than sustainable harvest levels. Through analysis by the Global Program for Fisheries (PROFISH), the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated in 2009 that the lost potential economic benefits from marine fisheries are about US$50 billion annually.
Pollution, particularly land-based nutrient pollution: Nitrogen fertilizer application has increased fivefold since 1960, but as much as 50 percent of the nitrogen applied is lost to the environment, depending on how well the application is managed. Much of this excess runs off into rivers and streams and eventually to the ocean, resulting in algal blooms that consume most of the oxygen in the water. This has adverse effects on marine life, leading to ‘dead zones.’ There are now an estimated 405 ocean dead zones around the world, covering 246,000 square kilometers—an area larger than that of Great Britain.
Habitat loss or conversion (for example, coastal development, coastal deforestation, fishing with dynamite, and mining): Ocean areas are experiencing some of the most rapid environmental change on the planet. An estimated 35 percent of mangrove area in countries with data on this aspect was either lost or converted between 1985 and 2005; and at least 20 percent of coral reefs have been destroyed globally in the last several decades, with another 20 percent having been degraded.
Climate change and ocean acidification: Over the coming decades and centuries, ocean health will become increasingly stressed by rising seawater temperature, ocean acidification, and ocean de-oxygenation in ways that we are only beginning to understand. Coral bleaching, caused by rising ocean temperatures, is already affecting vast areas of tropical coral reefs, which harbor 25 percent of marine biodiversity.
Although human actions are driving negative changes in the ability of the living oceans to contribute to global economic growth, they can also drive positive change to reverse this trend and rebuild the oceans’ natural capital. Most of these actions occur in the context of the institutions that govern the way ocean ecosystem services are valued and used. For this reason, the World Bank has been working with partners to support public investment in the development of new laws and institutions needed to both enhance the value of ocean ecosystem services and to alter conditions of blurred ownership resulting in an marine tragedy of the commons.
The Bank and its partners widely recognize that there is a need to secure effective access rights and use rights, that potential efficiencies should not be compromised, and that rents should accrue at a level where they have optimal impact. Communities and small-scale fisheries have a large role to play, as does expansion of sustainable aquaculture. Increased seafood supply from aquaculture can reduce the pressure of overfishing, while aquaculture that is properly managed at the ecosystem level can make a positive contribution to the marine environment.
To support these solutions, World Bank experts have produced a portfolio of internationally recognized reports through the Global Program on Fisheries, PROFISH. In 2012, the team published Evaluation of New Fishery Performance Indicators (FPIs) and Hidden Harvest, the Global Contribution of Capture Fisheries—responding to the urgent need for sustainable fishery indicators and a profile of the world’s small- and large-scale fisheries, respectively. The Bank worked with governments like that of the Seychelles to support national efforts to increase benefits from tuna fisheries, track the economic performance of tuna fishing activities, and guide economic development of the sector.
Drawing from this analytical work and lessons learned, the Bank aims to scale up these investments to support the next generation of governance reforms, including implementing rights-based fisheries management, supporting the development of sustainable aquaculture, developing blue carbon assets, creating market mechanisms to internalize the costs of marine pollution, and supporting partnerships for sustainable financing of marine protected areas, among others. Ultimately, these governance reforms can lead to an enhanced quality of ocean environments, and support economic growth and livelihoods.
The Bank is also working with the extractive industries sector, responding to oil and gas activity in deep waters under the jurisdiction of developing countries. Here, the Bank is engaging with countries, including Mozambique and Ghana, to build capacity to manage the large attendant operational, environmental and social risks.
The centerpiece of all this work is the World Bank-initiated Global Partnership for Oceans, launched at the Rio+20, UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. It creates a new way of working multilaterally and multi-sectorally with a diversity of partners, including governments, the private sector, UN agencies, and civil society organizations.
Whether or not we are from continental countries or island nations, we are indeed joined by the oceans.
Some examples of results achieved with World Bank support, based on financing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), or through trust funds managed by the World Bank, include:
Guinea-Bissau: The Coastal and Biodiversity Management Project in Guinea-Bissau (FY05) helped the country to establish a national parks and protected areas agency and network, protecting 480,000 hectares of the country’s coastal zone (representing over 13 percent of the national territory) together with local communities. In four of the five protected areas established, the effectiveness of park management increased by at least 15 percent from 2005 to 2010, based on the World Bank/World Wildlife Fund protected areas tracking tool that includes indicators such assufficient budget, park management planning, consultation, etc. To ensure that these protected areas are sustainably financed, partners and stakeholders have now established a private foundation, Fundacão BioGuinea. The Biodiversity Conservation Project (FY11) is supporting the operation and fund-raising efforts of this foundation until it is fully capitalized and self-sustaining.
West Africa: Supporting sustainable fisheries in West Africa. Since 2007, the Bank has increasingly focused on supporting the development of the laws and institutions needed for sustainable fisheries. For example, the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program covers nine countries from Mauritania to Ghana, beginning with Cape Verde, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone in early 2010. The objective of this program is to sustainably increase the contribution of the marine fish resources to the region’s economy through strengthened fisheries governance, reduced illegal fishing, and increased local value added to fish products. In Liberia, the government passed comprehensive fisheries regulations in December 2010 – the first legal framework for fisheries management since the 1970s. It also inaugurated the first fisheries monitoring center with radio and satellite communication links to the fishing fleet to help reduce illegal fishing. Subsequently, the government has issued some US$3.5 million in fines for illegal fishing to some 40 industrial vessels. Fishing communities along the coast are reporting higher catches as a result. Similarly in Sierra Leone, through program finance together with partners such as the Government of the Isle of Man, the Environmental Justice Foundation and NEPAD, the Government brought 12 industrial vessels to port for illegal fishing in the last 18 months, collecting over $1 million in fines. Similar to Liberia, catches in coastal fishing communities have reportedly increased during this time.
India: Integrated Coastal Zone Management in India (FY07– FY15). The World Bank’s largest ‘blue’ project, this effort is financing national- and state-level capacity building, long-term land use planning, and pilot investments in pollution management, resource conservation, and livelihood improvements. So far, more than 6,000 hectares of mangroves have been planted; 11 new coastal areas have been declared ecologically sensitive; and preparation of integrated plans for two of these has started. Work has also started to stop the flow of more than 100 million liters of untreated sewage per day into the ocean. The first stage of work has started to protect over 150 km of shoreline in the state of Odisha to protect Olive Ridley sea turtles, and aerial photography of a 90,000 km2 area to help identify all sensitive coastal and marine habitats has been completed. Detailed coastal and marine resource mapping, along with extensive studies on prominent protected species are being carried out to help develop integrated management plans and modeling of different development scenarios. For example, in Chilika (the largest lagoon in Asia that supports the livelihoods of some 250,000 fisherpersons) the project is supporting the development of a management plan that includes conservation activities, water quality monitoring, and pollution-reduction in the community.
Bank Group Contribution
The World Bank and Bank-managed trust funds are increasingly supporting initiatives to rebuild the ocean’s natural capital. Many of the Bank’s investments in the oceans over the last five years promote the sustainable governance of marine fisheries, the establishment of coastal and marine protected areas, and integrated coastal resource management. The World Bank’s active "blue growth" portfolio comprises activities worth US$4.5 billion. This amount includes fisheries management, habitat conservation including integrated coastal zone management, pollution reduction and water resource management.
The Bank has been working with a number of partners to increase investment in healthy oceans. Over the course of 2012, the Bank has participated in and/or hosted a number of partnership events, such as the Global Partnership for Oceans launch event at Rio+20, The Economist World Oceans Summit in Singapore, and the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands. Current partnerships include:
- The Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), launched in 2012, is the World Bank’s largest and most ambitious ocean effort yet. A growing alliance of more than 125 governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and private sector bodies, it aims to address threats to the health, productivity and resilience of the world’s oceans, focusing on the key areas of overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution.
- The Global Program for Fisheries (PROFISH), created in 2005, is a multi-donor trust fund managed by the World Bank to support governance reforms for sustainable fisheries. PROFISH works with a range of partners, including the FAO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), WorldFish, development organizations, and the private sector.
- The Alliance for Responsible Fisheries (ALLFISH), established in 2009 as a public-private partnership by the seafood industry, works with the International Coalition of Fisheries Associations, FAO, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to promote responsible fisheries and aquaculture.
- The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has been an integral partner in all of these efforts, with most Bank investments blended with grants from the GEF. In many cases, GEF co-financing has played a catalytic role in attracting Bank and other financing.
- Strategic Partnership for Fisheries in Africa is a partnership to promote sustainable fisheries in Africa. It is led by the African Union, with support from FAO and the World Wildlife Fund, and with financing from Bank-managed GEF funds.
- The Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services partnership aims to capture the value of coral reef ecosystem services through support for eco-enterprises linked to green markets, and other incentives to encourage investment in their protection.
- The Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction Program (ABJN) aims to improve global sustainable fisheries management and biodiversity conservation with partners including the GEF, the FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Ocean Forum.
- 50in10 is a collaboration initiated by over 30 organizations to achieve a 10-year target to bring 50 percent of fisheries and the global catch under sustainable management while increasing economic benefits by US$20 billion annually.
The opportunity that comes from addressing the challenges to healthier oceans, and the benefits that countries stand to gain from healthier oceans, such as rebuilding fish stocks and expanding sustainable aquaculture, restoring the productivity of key coastal habitats and reducing the threats from pollution, is fundamental to the development mandate of the World Bank. Efforts to date by the Bank, as well as the large number of other organizations supporting healthier oceans, have been somewhat scattered and insufficient to capture this opportunity. A coordinated global effort is needed to improve the health of the world’s oceans and the benefits they provide to the global economy and human welfare. Through its ability to convene a diversity of partners and stakeholders, and to mobilize public investment for governance reforms, the World Bank is uniquely positioned to foster and build an unprecedented global partnership.
Supporters and Beneficiaries
“Our challenge is to protect the oceans so that we can make the most of their gifts to the world. And we need more partners on deck for sustainable development.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Global Partnership for Oceans Launch at Rio+20, 2012
“We need technical assistance and more importantly efficient access to financing sources.” –Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Rio+20, 2012
“Whether or not we are from continental countries or island nations, we are indeed joined by the oceans.” –Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and Sustainable Development, Belize, Rio+20, 2012