Asian Development Bank sets aside $5bn to boost marine economy, clean up oceans

This article first appeared on Undercurrent News. 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has launched a plan to help improve the marine economy and clean up the oceans over the next six years, making available some $5 billion for financing and technical assistance.

ADB announced its “Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies for the Asia and Pacific” at its board of directors’ 52nd annual meeting in Fiji on May 2. ADB said in a press release that it will support the efforts of its developing member countries to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 14, “Life Below Water”.

The plan will focus on four areas:

  • “creating inclusive livelihoods and business opportunities in sustainable tourism and fisheries;
  • “protecting and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems and key rivers;
  • “reducing land-based sources of marine pollution, including plastics, wastewater, and agricultural runoff; and
  • improving sustainability in port and coastal infrastructure development”.

The Asia Pacific is “at the epicenter of a major crisis in marine plastic pollution”, with eight of the 10 rivers that transport 88% to 95% of plastics into the sea worldwide, the group said. All commercially exploitable fish stocks could disappear by 2050, it warned.

As a part of the action plan, ADB said it will launch an “Oceans Financing Initiative” to create opportunities for the private sector to invest in bankable projects that will help improve ocean health. The initiative, which will be piloted in Southeast Asia in collaboration with the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund and the Republic of Korea, will provide technical assistance grants and funding from ADB and other donors to reduce the technical and financial risks of projects.

This will be done through instruments such as credit risk guarantees and capital market “blue bonds”, the group said.

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