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Phenix Capital: €45bn invested in the blue economy since 2015

Published: 5 June 2024

The latest report by the Dutch impact investment advisor highlights a lack of investment in the world’s oceans, despite a six-fold jump in ocean-focused funds.

The world’s oceans are not only crucially important for global biodiversity – they also provide jobs to 350 million people | Photo by samsommer on Unsplash

Some €45bn has been invested in blue economy themes since 2015, according to Phenix Capital’s latest report. During the same period, the firm reported a jump of more than 530% in the number of ocean-focused funds, including a 3.8% rise last year. 

While 164 funds are currently targeting a total of €13bn of investments in the blue economy, they represent only 5.9% of the Phenix Capital’s database of 2,798 impact funds. Of the 120 managers that offer blue economy themes, 40% have open funds.  

The Impact Report: Blue Economy Funds at a Glance features an interview with Tongai Kunorubwe, head of ESG fixed income at US-based asset firm T. Rowe Price.

Referring to an OECD forecast saying the blue economy would double in value to $3trn in the two decades to 2030, Kunorubwe called the investment case for this theme “compelling”.

350 million jobs

The world’s oceans are not only crucially important for global biodiversity, they also provide jobs to 350 million people, Phenix said. That’s why the ocean forms part of almost all of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“By focusing on the ocean and the blue economy, we can actually impact a number of factors that in turn directly impact the SDGs, these include food, employment, and of course, climate,” said Kunorubwe.

“The ocean is a carbon sink absorbing some 30% of the carbon dioxide created; generating 50% of the oxygen we breathe; and more than 90% of the anthropogenic heat created.”


Still, UN SDG 14: Life Below Water remains the most underfunded of all the SDGs, Kunorubwe said, with just below $10bn invested between 2015 and 2019. Some $175bn is needed per year to achieve its goal by 2030.

“At the same time, oceans and water resources are under threat from climate change, pollution, overfishing, and habitat damage, among a host of other pressures,” Kunorubwe said. “From an asset class point of view too, the investment case makes sense.”

Kunorubwe highlighted the emergence of so-called blue bonds as a “growing resource” for sustainability financing and “a crucial tool” to help support the blue economy.

T. Rowe Price last year announced a joint plan with World Bank Group member IFC, offering a global blue bond strategy.

‘Nascent market’

Also featured in the report is the European Investment Bank (EIB), which between 2019 and 2023 committed €7.3bn in lending to the blue economy, leveraging €30.8bn of investments.

“There are very few dedicated lenders to the blue economy, and we believe that via the EIB, Europe is one of the largest financiers to the sustainable blue economy,” said Franck Jesus, blue economy coordinator and senior department climate advisor at the EU climate bank.

According to the report, there are around 15 financial institutions including Amundi, BNP and Triodos, that provide loans to the blue economy. In addition, some 30 private market funds and nearly 500 equity funds had an average exposure of more than 3% to SDG 14, according to Morningstar data. while there are also a handful of dedicated thematic public equity funds and a few ETFs.

“The blue investment universe is still nascent, but local banks are starting to show interest in lending to SMEs in fisheries, aquaculture, and coastal tourism, both with the EU and externally,” said Jesus of the EIB. 

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