Blue Economy Bulletin October 2019

Welcome to the October edition of our Blue Economy Bulletin. In conjunction with this October’s Our Ocean conference, PEMSEA released a new report highlighting our experience in the blue economy investment space. Informed by pilot studies, the report is based on a synthesis of primary and secondary research on the latest trends and practices related to ocean investment, and blue economy and private sector engagement in collaboration with organizations, funds, and investment experts. It also informed a published paper on mainstreaming private and public investment in the blue economy.

Such investments are becoming increasingly popular, with over $63 billion pledged to restore ocean health in the Our Ocean conference. Ocean health is key to sustaining natural capital, such as coral reefs and whales, which provide critical ecosystem services. Recovery and sustainability have been highly visible in the Philippines, where parts of the Pasig River system and the island of Guimaras have seen significant environmental restoration, and there is a national effort to ensure the sustainability of blue swimming crab harvests. Further progress has been made to deal with marine plastic pollution, with a new report on standardizing the measurement of waste leakage, and another report highlighting the impact a circular economy could have on climate change. Meanwhile, attendees from local governments throughout Southeast Asia met to discuss the plastic waste challenges facing them.

Follow the latest updates on blue economy and coastal sustainable development in East Asia on Facebook and Twitter (@PEMSEA). We welcome your feedback, and please let us know if there are other blue economy topics you would like to see in future newsletters and programs.


New report highlights EAS experiences in blue economy investment

A new report highlights lessons learned and provides recommendations for the application of blue economy investment towards the sustainable development of the East Asian Seas (EAS) region. The report recognizes the importance of exploring new solutions to reverse the deterioration of ocean health and pursue the long-term sustainability of East Asia’s shared seas. Read more from PEMSEA.

The Blue Economy and Ocean Health: Blue Economy and Decision-Support Frameworks

A paper to which PEMSEA contributed proposes transformative approaches to mainstream private and public investments in the blue economy, and provides direction towards the role the international development community could play in catalyzing this transformation. Read more from the Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics.


How to Revive an Ailing River

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission brought together government, the private sector, local communities, and the media in its mission to clean up Manila’s Estero de Paco, a heavily polluted tributary of the Pasig River. This success holds many lessons for rehabilitating such areas. Read more from Development Asia.

Saving an island from the worst oil spill in the Philippines: The case of GuimaraS

Challenged by the worst oil spill in Philippine history in 2006, the island province of Guimaras took on the challenge of not only cleaning up but revitalizing the affected areas. With the assistance of PEMSEA and the ICM framework, Guimaras is now an example of environmental best practices. Read more from Mongabay.

Blue Swimming Crab Sustainability: A Philippines Shared Goal

Government, industry, and international organizations, civil society, and other stakeholders in the Philippines are contributing to the development of the Blue Swimming Crab (BSC) National Management Plan. This plan is to ensure the highly demanded blue swimming crabs are harvested sustainably. Read more from IW:LEARN.

While there is more to do, the Pasig River rehabilitation has already had a significant impact. (Alternativity / Wikimedia Commons)


Using innovative technologies to strengthen the monitoring of fisheries operations at sea

The GEF-funded Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project has carried out trials of electronic monitoring systems to improve the transparency of tuna fisheries. This system allows trained staff to identify potential instances of IUU fishing, increasing the long-term sustainability of the stocks. Read more from IW:LEARN.

Achieving a safe and just future for the ocean economy

The expansion of the blue economy brings with it great potential, especially for deprived coastal communities. A new paper brings forward recommendations to ensure that this expansion is inclusive and equitable. Read more from

Southeast Asia tackles regional plastic policy

Local government officials from around Southeast Asia gathered in Penang, Malaysia, to discuss solutions to the marine plastic pollution issues facing the region. The meeting sought to bring together local policy-makers, allowing them to share their successes and best practices. Read more from PhilStar.

Fishing sustainability is key to both the health of the oceans and to the food security of coastal communities. (Kate / Unsplash)


Declining Natural Capital: High Stakes for Asia and the Pacific

The rich natural capital of the Asia-Pacific provides significant benefit to the people and economies of the region. Such capital is particularly important to the rural poor, who often depend directly upon it for their livelihoods. The potentially irreversible loss of natural capital should be of great concern to the region and the world. Read more from Development Asia.

Protecting whales to protect the planet

Whales have been found to sequester significant amounts of carbon into the ocean. Over the same period of time, a tree may sequester as little as 3% of what a whale sequesters. Globally, such actions are considered to have an economic value of up to $1 trillion. Read more from UN Environment.

Asia’s coral faces a deadly onslaught

Coral reefs provide huge benefits to nearby communities, improving fisheries catch, tourism revenue, and protection from extreme natural events. While they face global anthropogenic challenges, local action can have a significant impact on their survival. Read more from The Economist.

Ecosystem services provided by whale populations include not only tourism revenue and cultural value, but also carbon sequestration. (Silas Baisch / Unsplash)


Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change

A report focusing on the link between climate change and the circular economy finds that converting to 100% renewable energy would address only 55% of greenhouse gas emissions. A shift to a circular economy is necessary to reduce the remaining 45%. Read more from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Report Shows Recycled Content Standards and EPR Schemes Can Bridge Plastic Collection Financing Gap

A report developed by Ocean Conservancy in partnership with Trash Free Seas Alliance provides a guide to the public-private interventions that would be most impactful in dealing with marine plastic pollution. Read more from Ocean Conservancy.

Measuring plastic leakage: new report paves the way for a standardised methodology

An IUCN report provides a comprehensive overview of 19 plastic footprint methodologies. Current methodologies have many areas that could be improved, in order to achieve a more holistic understanding of the issue. Read more from IW:LEARN.

Knowing where waste leaks into the environment, and how much, is crucial for effectively improving waste management systems. (Tobias Tullius / Unsplash)


Navigating ocean investments

The IIED has produced a four-page paper on how collaborative management of marine protected areas (MPAs) can provide a strong opportunity for impact investors, and ensure the long-term self-sustainability of these protected areas. Read more from IIED.

Green bond issuance tops $200bn milestone

Green bonds and loans issued in 2019 have reach $202.2 billion. This figure include recent bonds and loans from China, Japan, and Singapore. 33% of these bonds and loans relate to the energy market. Read more from Climate Bonds Initiative.

Commitments worth $63 billion pledged for ocean protection

Over $63 billion was pledged to ocean related causes at the Our Ocean Conference from 23-24 October. A total of 370 commitments were made, coming from governments, businesses, organizations, and academe. Read more from Mongabay.

Collaboratively managed MPAs provide an opportunity to support livelihoods  . (Evi Nurul Ihsan / CTC / USAID)


8th Annual World Congress of Ocean

2-4 November, Xiamen, China
Part of Xiamen’s World Ocean Week (2-8 November)


11-12 November, Tokyo, Japan

SEA of Solutions

11-14 November, Bangkok, Thailand


20-22 November, Paris, France

Water and Development Congress & Exhibition

1-5 December, Colombo, Sri Lanka


2-13 December, Santiago, Chile