Groundbreaking Study Maps Blue Economy Finance, Revealing Equity Risks and Transparency Issues for the First Time. 

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A pioneering study published in One Earth presents the first comprehensive mapping of blue financial flows, shedding light on the crucial but previously invisible funding landscape supporting the sustainable use of ocean resources.  

Conducted by an international team of researchers led by WorldFish, the study analyzed blue-economy-labelled money flows between 2017 and 2021 to identify sources and recipients and potential social equity impacts.  

The study uncovered striking findings that could reshape the approach towards a truly sustainable and equitable blue economy. 

Key highlights of the research include, 

  • Lack of Transparency -  a lack of transparency in blue financial flows hinders the ability to track investments effectively, posing challenges to assessing the impact of funding on ocean sustainability and social equity. 
  • Geographical and Sectoral Imbalances - the study reveals pronounced imbalances in the distribution of blue economy finance, with a significant concentration in Europe and Central Asia and a strong focus on business development and offshore wind energy, potentially side-lining vital sectors like aquatic foods and conservation. 
  • Social Equity Concerns - the research identifies widespread 'red flags' for social equity, with 35% of analyzed projects showing potential risks for exacerbating inequities, underscoring the need for a more inclusive and equitable distribution of blue economy benefits. 

This study highlights the urgent need for investors and policymakers to understand the impacts of funding. It challenges the notion that more money alone can address the ocean's needs, emphasizing the importance of how and where money is spent and offers a tool to verify if the goals of the blue economy are actually being met with real investments, underscoring the need for not just more, but smarter, funding. 

The findings of the study call for increased transparency, accountability, and equity in blue economy investments to ensure that the ocean's economic development contributes positively to both environmental sustainability and social equity. 

Dr. Marleen Schutter, Aquatic Food Systems Scientist at WorldFish and the lead author of the study said, “For the first time we've pulled back the veil on the flows of blue financial investments. These findings highlight the urgent need for greater transparency, equity, and sustainability in the allocation of these resources.  Ensuring that investments benefit those who need it most, particularly vulnerable coastal communities, is essential for a truly equitable blue economy." 


David, Wardell

Strategic Communications Specialist