June 29, 2022
Funders commit $1 billion to expand and manage protected marine areas
The Protecting Our Planet Challenge, a collaborative of 11 philanthropies and nonprofits, has announced a commitment totaling at least $1 billion to support the creation, expansion, and management of marine protected areas as well as Indigenous and locally governed marine and coastal areas.
Announced at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, the investment is part of the group’s larger 10-year, $5 billion plan to support protection of 30 percent of the planet—both land and sea—by 2030. Formed in 2021, the collaborative includes Arcadia, the Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bobolink, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the International Conservation Fund of Canada, Re:wild, Nia Tero, the Rainforest Trust, the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, and the Wyss Foundation.
According to the group, just under 8 percent of the ocean is zoned as marine protected area and only 2.4 percent is considered fully or highly protected. In addition—even with drastic emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement—coral reef ecosystems that support over a quarter of all ocean life and the source of food for over 500 million people are also threatened. Because the ocean is intimately connected with coastlines, the protection of land, even far from shore, will be a key part of the project.
“In order to address climate change, biodiversity loss, and human wellbeing, the protection of our oceans is as critical as conserving and restoring our planet’s forests and grasslands,” said Re:wild chief scientist and CEO Wes Sechrest. “Doing so effectively requires this bold and ambitious commitment to protect the right 30 percent of our oceans by 2030 [to] benefit all life on Earth.”
“Today’s commitment from the Protecting Our Planet Challenge shows that funders are working together in a coordinated way to support the ever-increasing environmental ambitions of countries across the world,” said Simon Cripps, Wildlife Conservation Society executive director of marine conservation.
In a separate announcement at the conference, the Bezos Earth Fund announced $50 million in commitments to organizations in Central and South America as well as the National Geographic Society. In addition, Bloomberg Philanthropies—as part of its Vibrant Oceans initiative—announced its support of the Commonwealth Blue Charter Project Incubator to help governments develop high-impact pilot projects to reduce threats to the ocean and improve community resilience.