california coastline

Innovative approaches to financing ocean conservation


Ocean conservation actions are underway around the world to sustain vital ocean benefits, such as food provision, biodiversity, and recreation. Continued support of these efforts to conserve ecosystems and combat climate change, overfishing, and habitat destruction will require massive investments, likely orders of magnitude larger than the current annual spending in this sector of approximately $1.3 billion. Philanthropy has supplied much of this funding to date, and will continue to play an essential role in developing and piloting solutions, but restoring ocean health and resilience will require more resources than are available in the philanthropic sector alone. To radically increase available funding for ocean conservation actions, alternative financing mechanisms must be implemented.

We are partnering with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to think about what these alternative mechanisms might look like, and how they could expand the pool of financial resources available for ocean and island conservation initiatives. In particular, we are considering how creative financing mechanisms could be applied to TNC California’s priority areas of kelp forest protection and restoration, coral reef restoration, island biosecurity, and fisheries disaster relief.


While there is a robust body of work on both the development of conservation solutions and conservation finance options, there is a missing link between the two regarding how to best finance a conservation action. We aim to bridge this gap by developing a framework that can identify financing opportunities that align with the attributes of and benefits generated by a given conservation action. This novel framework will help discern viable from non-viable financing opportunities while also outlining enabling conditions and potential barriers for each mechanism as they apply to different conservation areas. We are then mapping our framework onto TNC California’s priority conservation areas to explore a suite of potential financing options and identify the most promising opportunities.


This project is a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy’s California Ocean Program.