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    Preserving our oceans

    Covering more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean and the seas are a precious shared resource. They provide food, medicines, renewable energy and natural resources to billions of people around the globe. They play a vital role for the planet’s climate and biodiversity. Keeping them healthy is crucial for sustainable development and the reduction of poverty.

    The EIB, as the EU climate bank, is investing in the sustainable blue economy, supporting low-carbon marine solutions, coastal resilience to climate change, the preservation and restoration of the ocean’s nature capital, and innovation along with education and public research related to the ocean.

    Three facts about our ocean

    Keeping the ocean clean and healthy is crucial for sustainable development and the reduction of poverty:


    of global greenhouse gas emissions absorbed by the ocean since the 1980s

    9.5 million tonnes

    of plastics and microplastics discharged to the ocean every year


    of excess heat generated by human activity is captured by the ocean

    Our support

    Considering their importance and the threats that they face, we are stepping up our lending and advisory activities to support the ocean. Our Sustainable Blue Economy approach consists of:

    The EIB invests in a sustainable blue economy by supporting areas such as:

    Low-carbon marine solutions

    We are pioneers in promoting the decarbonisation of marine-related activities and contributing to climate mitigation. Our investments target:

    • Marine renewable energy: we have supported about 40% of Europe’s installed capacity since 2003.
    • Sustainable shipping and ports: we invest in the construction of new, greener ships and the adaptation of existing vessels. We also support sustainable port infrastructure.
    Coastal resilience to climate change

    Many coastal countries around the world face catastrophic effects caused by rising sea levels. We support them in building climate resilience, by financing projects that:

    • Prevent the destruction of the shorelines.
    • Protect the fragile coastal ecosystems.
    • Make infrastructure less vulnerable to adverse weather conditions.
    Ocean-related research and innovation

    The ocean covers about 71% of our planet, yet we have mapped just 5%! It plays a vital role in the fight against climate change, so it is crucial scientists understand what consequences marine ecosystems suffer.

    The EIB is actively developing a portfolio of innovative projects such as ocean monitoring technologies (advanced marine robotics, research vessels) or recirculating aquaculture systems.

    We also work closely with the European Commission’s DG-Mare, the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) and the Copernicus Marine Service to explore market failures blocking the development of relevant blue digital technologies. Such technologies can help improve rescue services, avert the impact of storms and produce clean energy from the ocean.

    Protection of oceanic natural capital

    Pollution from human activities, including the millions of tonnes of plastics that end up on the ocean every year, leads to an unprecedented disruption to the fragile marine ecosystems. Poorly managed solid waste, wastewater and storm water play an important role in the decline of the ocean health.

    We take action to preserve and restore the oceanic natural capital. We support innovative projects that reduce the accumulation of plastic waste and micro-plastic particles in the seas and the discharge of waste and untreated wastewater. We also invest in sustainable aquaculture and fisheries.


    Our lending in the above areas amounted to €7.3 billion for the period 2019-2023. Our financing leveraged €30.8 billion of new investment in the blue economy.

    Global challenges demand joint action. The EIB, one of the largest multilateral green financiers in the world, pursues global partnerships with key actors to maximise the impact of our support. Here are our key partnerships for a sustainable ocean and blue economy:

    Clean Oceans Initiative

    The EIB, together with the German development bank KfW group, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), the Spanish promotional bank ICO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has committed to provide €4 billion in investment by the end of 2025.

    The Clean Oceans Initiative supports public and private sector in implementing sustainable projects that reduce or avoid plastics and other waste and clean up waste and wastewater before it reaches the ocean. As of December 2023, the initiative has reached more than 80% of its target, with €3.2 billion invested.

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    Blue Mediterranean Partnership

    At COP27, we launched together with the EBRD and the Union for the Mediterranean the Blue Mediterranean Partnership to support the development of a sustainable blue economy in the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood. This partnership received wide political support from key partners such as the European Commission. It aims to support policy reforms, attract donor funding and mobilise public and private financing for projects initially in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

    At COP28, partners and donors involved in the Blue Mediterranean Partnership reinforced their support for developing the sustainable blue economy in the southern Mediterranean region. The parties involved signed a letter of intent to make their participation in the Partnership official and to make the Partnership operational in early 2024.

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    Support to the EU’s policies on the blue economy

    In May 2021, the European Commission set out a new approach for a sustainable blue economy in the EU, crucial to achieving the European Green Deal’s objectives. The European Commission and the EIB Group committed to increase their cooperation on a sustainable blue economy and to work jointly with Member States to meet existing financing needs to reduce pollution in European seas and support investment for blue innovation and blue bioeconomy.

    Through InvestEU Blue Economy, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and the EIB Group combine their resources with InvestEU finance to mobilise an additional €500 million of EU funds for financial intermediaries in the blue economy. This scaled-up equity is expected to result in €1.5 billion of risk-financing for innovative and sustainable blue economy small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups, via financial intermediaries, including co-investment opportunities.

    In addition, the BlueInvest platform, together with the EIB Group, will provide capacity building and advisory support for financial intermediaries and impact investors targeting investments in the blue economy. The EIB will also provide advisory support to 20 blue champions in the coming years, in support of the European Commission's Restore Our Oceans and Water mission, with the aim to accelerate the scale-up of advanced ocean technologies.

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    Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

    The sustainable use of the ocean’s resources provides great opportunities for investors. The lack of a relevant framework kept valuable investments away from the blue economy. To remedy this, we founded the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles, jointly with the European Commission, WWF for Nature and the World Resources Institute.

    This framework aims to guide investors through a pioneering global investment framework towards the sustainable use of the ocean’s resources.

    Since 2019, the Principles have been embedded in the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative (SBEFI), hosted by UNEP FI. So far, over 70 public and private companies representing USD 11 trillion in total asset have joined the Initiative.

    In 2021 and 2022, practical guidance documents for financial institutions were produced (‘Turning the Tide: How to Finance a Sustainable Ocean Recovery’ and ‘Diving Deep: Finance, Ocean Pollution and Coastal Resilience’), covering seven key ocean sectors, chosen for their established connection with private finance: seafood, shipping, ports, offshore renewables, coastal tourism, solid waste management, and coastal protection. In 2021, the members of this initiative also agreed to report publicly on their progress in implementing the principles.

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    Portugal Blue

    Launched in October 2020, Portugal Blue is a partnership between the EIB Group, Banco Português de Fomento (BPF) and the Portuguese Government, through Fundo Azul. This partnership seeks to increase investment in the blue economy sector to support climate action and the achievement of the sustainable development goals. It aims to mobilise over €80 million of funding including private capital from public and institutional investors into the local blue economy landscape through venture capital and private equity funds managed by Portuguese-based teams.

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    Key publications

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