EIB Group and the European Commission join forces to protect the oceans and boost investment in the sustainable blue economy

20 May 2021 | Network Updates | Update from European Investment Bank
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

  • Identification of projects to avoid and reduce pollution of oceans and seas, with particular focus on circular economy approaches
  • Joint solutions for equity and guarantee funding for blue innovation and blue bioeconomy

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group, composed of the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund (EIF), announce increased cooperation to implement the new EU Sustainable Blue Economy policy.

Both institutions will work jointly with the EU Member States to meet existing financing needs to reduce pollution in European seas and support investment for blue innovation and blue bioeconomy.

European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “There can be no Green Deal without a sustainable blue economy. Oceans are an incredible resource of renewable energy, food and innovative medicines and solutions, and host many economic activities constituting the blue economy. But our seas and oceans are also fragile ecosystems that need our protection. To achieve a climate-neutral, circular and clean blue economy in the European Union, we need to channel finance so that the projects contributing to the Green Deal can take off the ground. This is what our partnership with the EIB group will contribute to do.”

European Investment Bank’s Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix, said: “Preserving the health of our oceans is key to tackle the climate challenges. Oceans are essential for our economic prosperity, but most and above all for our own existence. The European Commission Communication issued today is an important guidance to turn our oceans into a sustainable economic resource. The EIB is eager to join efforts with the European Commission to foster access to financing for projects that will improve the quality of our oceans and biodiversity, in particular by reducing pollution, by recycling and re-using plastics, so that we can ensure a better future for all. It is key that our green strategies have more blue in it. The EIB and the European Commission are together in building it forward not only green but also bluer.”

European Investment Fund’s Chief Executive, Alain Godard, said: “Healthy oceans and coastal areas are vital for our societies and the future of our planet. They also provide the basis for economic activities that generate growth and jobs. I am delighted to join forces today with the European Commission. Together we will prepare a framework and offer solutions for equity and guarantee funding to stimulate investments in blue innovation and blue bioeconomy. We will build on our already successful collaboration, notably through the BlueInvest fund, which combined with additional private capital will help to drive Europe’s Blue Economy agenda.”

Reducing pollution in our European seas

The European Investment Bank and the European Commission will align efforts to reduce pollution in European seas, especially in affected areas such as the Mediterranean Sea.

The European Commission’s new Zero Pollution Action Plan aims to reduce pollution from nutrient losses and chemical pesticides by 50%, and to reduce plastic litter at sea by 50% and micro-plastics released into the environment by 30%, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean Sea.

The European Investment Bank is financing operations aimed at reducing discharge of chemical pollutants, nutrients, plastic waste and micro-plastics to the ocean. It supports improved waste, wastewater and storm water management while bringing significant expertise in project preparation, implementation and financing.

Both institutions will carry out a comprehensive market study and identify investable projects for pollution avoidance and reduction, such as, biodegradability, recycling and re-use along the entire plastic value chain. They will offer solutions to increase access to financing, including through risk reduction facilities, provision of equity or loans, grants, all aimed at incentivizing private and public financiers to provide additional liquidity to such projects.

Investment for blue innovation and blue bioeconomy

The European Investment Fund (as part of the EIB Group) and the European Commission will jointly prepare a framework to stimulate investments in blue innovation and to implement the Farm to Fork and bioeconomy strategies.

Targeted areas include, among others, innovation in blue bioeconomy, production and marketing of sustainable seafood and algae products, as well as sustainable maritime tourism and environmental solutions.

The EIF and European Commission will jointly develop solutions for equity and guarantee funding. It will provide Member States’ Managing Authorities with ways of matching their national resources with funding from relevant European funds, in particular the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) through financial instruments and blending operations.  As part of the proposed measures under the framework, the EIB group in particular through EIF would provide market testing and expertise in product structuring, private fund-raising and mandate implementation.

The EIF is managing the BlueInvest Fund and is financing businesses in the blue economy sector via equity funds selected earlier this year. 

Background Information

About the Sustainable Blue Economy communication

On 17 May 2021, the European Commission adopted a new approach to a green recovery in the blue economy. The initiative aims to ensure that the future development of EU’s blue economy is guided by the European Green Deal and its ambitions on decarbonisation, zero pollution, circular economy and restoring biodiversity. Transitioning to a sustainable blue economy is about promoting and investing in new opportunities from wave and tidal energy to algae production, creating new lines of business and sources of jobs and growth to underpin EU’s post-pandemic economy. At the same time, sectors including fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, maritime transport, port activities and shipbuilding must continue to innovate so as to generate blue-green jobs and businesses, whilst reducing their environmental and climate impact.

About the European Investment Bank (EIB)

As the EU climate bank, the EIB is investing in the sustainable blue economy and supporting initiatives aimed at reducing pollution and preserving the oceans. Under its Blue Sustainable Ocean Strategy (Blue SOS), the EIB committed to double its lending to sustainable ocean projects to €2.5 billion over the period 2019-2023 and expects to mobilise at least €5 billion of investments that will contribute to improve the health of the oceans and their resources. This will be done through projects in sustainable coastal protection, blue biotechnology, sustainable seafood production and green shipping. The EIB also collaborates with European partners within the Clean Oceans Initiative, which will provide €2 billion in investment by 2023 to reduce or avoid plastics and other waste before it reaches the ocean around the World, and with the Asian Development Bank to promote clean and sustainable oceans in in Asia and Pacific.

More information about EIB’s activities to preserve the oceans

BlueInvest is a European Commission initiative that aims to improve access to finance and investment readiness for start-ups, early-stage businesses and SMEs active in the Blue Economy. Its features include an online community, investment readiness assistance for companies, investor engagement, events, an academy and a projects pipeline. 

This article was first published on May 17 by EIB. 

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