October 10, 2019

Funding the Ocean Newsletter – October 2019

News Source: Funding the Ocean

Author(s): Supriya Kumar

Dear Colleague,

Last month, the ocean and the environment took center stage at the UN General Assembly meeting here in New York City. From Greta Thunberg’s inspiring address at the Climate Action Summit, to the revelations of the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), member states and philanthropists were forced to come to terms with the bleak realities that climate change poses to the future of our planet.

IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate warns that the ocean has literally been “taking the heat” from human activities, absorbing about 20-30 percent of our carbon emissions since the 1980s. This has caused the rate of ocean warming to more than double since 1933, resulting in marine heatwaves, large-scale coral bleaching, and irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems.

Because of these adverse changes, communities around the world will face mounting challenges as water resources disappear, natural disasters become harsher and less predictable, and food supplies dwindle. The report suggests that aggressive adaptation efforts will be needed to help communities. These include getting serious about fishery management processes to help sustain fish populations; protecting mangroves to aid coastal communities from increasing storm surges and flooding events; and increased investments in early warning systems for predicting natural disasters.

But there is good news. While these actions might seem overwhelming and difficult to implement, we have evidence that they do work, when applied thoughtfully. In Jamaica, for example, a country that lost 85 percent of its coral reefs due to natural and man-made disasters in the 1980s and 1990s, we’re seeing coral make a vibrant come-back. Thanks to careful interventions that involved local fishermen and grassroots-run coral nurseries and fish sanctuaries, Jamaica’s coral reefs are thriving once again.

Greta Thunberg ended her speech by saying, “The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.” Let’s hope that our global leaders take these warning signs seriously and commit to policies and investments to limit the change, so that it’s least disruptive as possible.

Philanthropy has a big role to play in these efforts and can help engage with and provide funds for country-level programs, and we saw large commitments made at the Climate Action Summit by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Be sure to check out the Funding Map, to see who else is supporting research and other efforts to address the negative impacts of climate change on ocean health, among other issues. Were you at the UN General Assembly? Share stories of what your organization is doing in the fight against climate change and ocean protection! E-mail us at or tweet using #FundtheOcean to share any exciting news, events, or solutions.

Supriya Kumar

The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change: Five Opportunities for Action

The ocean is a dominant feature of our planet, covering 70 percent of its surface and driving its climate and biosphere. The ocean sustains life on earth and yet is in peril from climate change. However, while much of recent attention is focused on the problems that the ocean faces, the ocean is also a source of potential solutions and innovation. This report explores how the ocean, its coastal regions, and economic activities can provide opportunities in the fight against climate change.

Four Things to Know About the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere

On the heels of its report on climate change and land , the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now assessed the impact that climate change is having on the world’s oceans and frozen areas (known as the “cryosphere”). These ecosystems are critical to life on our planet, as they regulate the climate, feed the world’s growing population, serve as habitat for species, provide energy, are critical to cultures around the world, and allow for transport and trade, among other benefits. The impact that climate change is having on the ocean and cryosphere will affect all people on Earth, but especially those in the Arctic, low-lying coastal zones, and high mountain regions.

Design Matters: Making the Catch Shares Work

Catch shares are fishery management programs that allocate fishing privileges in the form of a specific portion of the total annual catch quota. These programs range from individual transferable quotas to community-based management systems such as sectors. Science-based annual catch limits are essential if catch shares are to be effective and if requirements to end overfishing and rebuild depleted fish populations are to be met. After science-based catch limits have been determined, the quota can be allocated to participants in the fishery. This allocation must be done with careful consideration of the socioeconomic changes that may result.


A collection of open-source data sets and visualizations covering a range of environmental and social issues, including ocean topics such as coral bleaching and commercial shipping. The mission of the platform is to provide trusted and timely data for a sustainable future.