Congrats to Melissa Walsh (previously Bos) for successfully completing her PhD exit seminar! You can read more about Melissa’s research here.
Global natural capital sustains human well-being, but the economic costs of degradation are greater than investments into the management of natural resources, resulting in a large and growing conservation funding gap. Significant ongoing research and practise in sustainable development and environmental finance have identified mechanisms for reducing the conservation funding gap, but due to unique features of the marine environment, explicit focus on marine conservation finance is needed. At the same time, the literatures identify numerous factors that constrain the success of marine conservation initiatives, for example effective governance, but there is an overarching limit to marine conservation that is not adequately addressed in the literature or in practise: finance. The aim of this research was to investigate strategies and financial mechanisms to decrease impacts to marine resources and increase effective investment into marine resource management. Through critical policy analysis and semi-structured interviews, at the global scale and with Great Barrier Reef case studies, this research crossed disciplines and sectors to set the foundation of a “new and emerging field.” Case studies include 1) effective marine offsets for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, 2) a Great Barrier Reef sustainable agricultural loan fund that achieves water quality outcomes and private profits, and 3) a global assessment of opportunities and challenges to develop marine impact investments – models that generate net positive marine outcomes alongside financial returns. Results indicate that innovative finance mechanisms can be employed for marine conservation, but specialized capacity and transition capital need to be developed. Strategic consideration of finance – at the beginning of a conservation planning process and with the engagement of stakeholders – is a critical catalyst to achieving marine conservation outcomes.