Official virtual side event of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference

Can Harnessing Blue and Thematic Bonds Build a Sustainable, Regenerative Ocean Economy?

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 1:00-2:30 pm ET by Zoom

The Temple of Understanding is proud to co-organize this event as a new member of the NGO Committee on Financing for Development (FfD).

Previously, our Director of Global Advocacy, Grove Harris, has followed and contributed to the FfD efforts through the Women’s FfD group. The TOU has been following the oceans work towards SDG 14, on conserving and sustainable development of oceans through various UN processes, including the stalled Beyond the Boundaries of National Jurisdictions process, and the lead-up to the treaty against plastic pollution of our oceans. The health of our oceans is crucial for life on earth, and members of the TOU live in threatened coastal areas and have a deep love of the ocean.  

While much of the Temple of Understanding’s transformative work is through dialogue, we see the pragmatic need to directly address environmental concerns and to address the financial means that may be vehicles to protect the environment and enable the development of sustainability, or that may further entrench gross inequities of power and concentration of wealth.

The Committee advocates for the mobilization of climate finance from all sources to reach the level needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, including significantly increasing support for developing countries beyond $100 billion per year. Achieving economic justice – or any of the SDGs – requires a global shift in priorities, putting people and the planet over corporate profits.

So we ask: can blue bonds offer traction in facilitating this shift? Will investing in blue and thematic bonds now save us from investing in even more catastrophe bonds later? The World Bank defines blue bonds, an innovation only a few years old, “as a debt instrument issued by governments, development banks or others to raise capital from impact investors to finance marine and ocean-based projects that have positive environmental, economic and climate benefits.”

In the interest of identifying and amplifying best practices aligned with SDG 14 [Life Below Water]the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Monterey Consensus, this side event will explore the efficacy of blue and thematic bonds as a means of building a sustainable, regenerative ocean economy.

(Excerpt from the concept note)

As always, the human rights lens is foundational to the social justice we aim to achieve, and we bring that lens to this discussion of a financing mechanism.

Civil society is called upon to collaborate and focus efforts to push for urgent changes; we are proud to see that our office mates, Peace Boat, are offering some powerful programming in Lisbon.

Invited speakers:

  • H.E. Mr. Ian Dereck Joseph Madeleine, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Seychelles to the United Nations
  • Stephen M. Liberatore, Head of ESG/Impact – Global Fixed Income for Nuveen, a private investor in the Seychelle blue bond
  • Greg Fisk, Global Lead – Climate Risk and Resilience, Senior Principal Consultant, BMT
  • Ms. Nicola Mercusa, Sustainable Finance Hub, Debt and Bond issuance expert advisor
  • Mr. Leon Kaulahao Siu, Indigenous activist, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ke Aupuni Ko Hawaii Pae Aina
  • Dr. Megan Davis, Ph.D., Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute/ Queen Conch Lab
  • Additional NGO speakers to be confirmed

Moderator: Anita Thomas, Chair, NGO Committee on Financing for Development; Representative to the UN, Women First International Fund (formerly Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund)


The edited recording of this event will be available online (once it is finalized) on the event page of the NGO Committee on Financing for Development.

Key recommendations for action:

Key recommendations for action coming out of the event and reported to the Oceans Conference Secretariat include:

  • Continue to evaluate new unique structures and remain engaged with issuers, underwriters, MDBs, and NGOs on scaling capital deployment to the Blue Economy
  • Use of artisanal aquaculture as a way of diversifying jobs for artisanal fisheries
  • Develop radical partnerships for comprehensive approaches – NGOs, academic institutions, development banks, commercial banks, development organizations, economists, scientists, and marine spatial planners, as well as the full spectrum of stakeholders in place, with strong engagement of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  • Continue to promote blue bonds as a viable financial mechanism and the importance of setting up effective mechanisms for project eligibility and for measuring success that builds good science into accounting.
  • Center the value of human rights in the evaluations of the impact of blue bonds for ocean conservation.
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