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Case study

High-Integrity Marine Natural Capital Markets

In May 2024, we published a first-of-its-kind Roadmap to unlock vital investment in the protection and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems, building on existing actions across the UK.

Published with our partners, Blue Marine Foundation, Crown Estate Scotland, EsméeFairbairn Foundation, Finance Earth and Pollination, ‘High-Integrity Marine Natural Capital Markets in the UK – A Roadmap for Action’ was co-designed through a year-long process involving over 200 UK and international experts across academia, industry, finance, government and not-for-profits. It presents a pathway to delivering high-integrity marine natural capital markets which can provide much needed new sources of finance to protect, restore and sustainably manage marine and coastal ecosystems.

The UK’s diverse marine and coastal ecosystems play a critical role in underpinning our economy, health and wellbeing, but they are increasingly threatened by growing pressures including rising temperatures, development, certain fishing and aquaculture practices, water pollution and other anthropogenic impacts. To safeguard and restore our vital marine and coastal environments, natural capital markets provide a route to leverage payments for ecosystem services and unlock much-needed private finance where public and philanthropic funding is often stretched.

The seven recommendations contained in the report, which are not set out in any order of priority, call on a wide cross-section of stakeholders to address barriers in areas such as funding, target sites for restoration, long-term monitoring, data and evidence, and skills and knowledge to deliver marine natural capital projects at scale. They are:

  1. Identify priority opportunities and approved methods for marine and coastal conservation and restoration.

  2. Deliver seascape-scale natural capital projects through combined public and private funding.

  3. Implement policy and regulatory requirements to drive demand for marine natural capital.

  4. Accelerate the development of UK-wide codes for marine and coastal ecosystem services.

  5. Address critical evidence gaps for the development of marine natural capital markets.

  6. Develop publicly accessible and standardised approaches to data collection, hosting and monitoring.

  7. Build the necessary skills and capacity to harness marine natural capital opportunities.

Each recommendation is accompanied by actions for implementation to 2030, as well as key stakeholders to lead on each action in order to overcome barriers to their implementation and deliver real, measurable value for people and nature.

In connection with the Roadmap, The Crown Estate has also published a report outlining the learnings from the roll-out of the UK’s first Blue Carbon Accelerator Programme.

Run by Bright Tide, a leading sustainability company, and supported by The Crown Estate, Hogan Lovells and EY, the Accelerator Programme helps to address the skills gap highlighted in the Natural Capital Markets Roadmap by supporting the maturation of entrepreneurs looking to lead natural capital projects across the UK. The programme offers financial, legal and technical support for new ventures, helping to equip entrepreneurs with the skills needed to grow new innovative projects and address the knowledge gaps that can often become a barrier to harnessing marine natural capital opportunities.

Download reports

  • High-Integrity Marine Natural Capital Markets in the UK – A Roadmap for Action

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