Episode 2

Life below water

Episode 6/7

Key facts and figures


Over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.


Over 50% of the oxygen we breathe comes from the oceans, which absorb about 30% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.

We are seeing a 26% rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

plastic bottle

Marine pollution is reaching alarming levels, with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter to be found on every square kilometre of ocean.


Nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or depleted.


of the ocean is heavily affected by pollution, depleted fisheries, loss of coastal habitats and other human activities.

How is the challenge addressed by the financial industry?

  • The ocean covers the majority of our planet’s surface, holding 97% of all water and 80% of all life forms. Major ocean sectors such as tourism, shipping, fishing, aquaculture and marine renewable energy collectively contribute to a ‘blue’ economy, estimated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at a global gross value added of USD 1.5trn in 2010. This blue economy has been projected to increase to USD 3trn by 2030, with some ocean industries set to grow faster than the global economy.
  • However, ocean health is under threat, faced with the triple crises of pollution, nature loss and climate change, leaving industries, businesses and livelihoods exposed. With existing financing still largely directed towards unsustainable sectors and activities, it is critical that all sectors of the blue economy are rapidly transitioned towards sustainable pathways.
  • Banks, insurers and investors have a major role to play in financing this transition to a sustainable blue economy, helping to rebuild ocean prosperity and restore biodiversity to the ocean. Through their lending, underwriting and investment activities, as well as their client relationships, financial institutions have a major impact on ocean health and hold the power to accelerate and mainstream the sustainable transformation of ocean-linked industries.


How does BNP Paribas address the issue?

  • We have already made the oceans’ protection a primary action for our business. BNP Paribas has reinforced its CSR commitment to the UN’s 14th Sustainable Development Goal: “Aquatic life”. The priority of this commitment is to act responsibly when financing activities that have an impact on the oceans and to support the companies that are innovating in order to protect them. To achieve this we support clients, start-ups and stakeholders in the four primary sectors offering new solutions.

  • The four sectors that primarily concern the blue economy are:
    • Maritime transportation
    • Fishing and aquaculture
    • Deep-sea mining for natural resources and renewable marine energy
    • Land-based activities that have strong ties to the ocean.

  • In particular, we are helping our long-time clients in their ecological transformation (1 billion euros will be dedicated to the cause between now and 2025) and contribute to direct investments towards the key sectors of the blue economy thanks to the newly launched Blue Economy fund.

  • This support is particularly aimed at innovative start-ups through internal incubators and accelerators like WAI (We Are Innovation) as well as external organisations like the Sustainable Ocean Alliance. BNP Paribas has supported new companies like Agriloops (sustainable aquaponics), Geocorail (coastline protection), and Lactips (biodegradable, water-soluble plastic).

  • Practices favoring the oceans also extend to our interactions with stakeholders, including NGOs, clients, and other financial actors. BNP Paribas has ratified the Poseidon Principles, the first global framework for responsible ship finance, and participated in the creation of the Green Marine Europe stamp with the Surfrider Foundation Europe, which allows for voluntary environmental certification of ship fleets. A commitment for everyone within the Group!

  • As for all subjects relating to environmental protection, raising awareness is key. The BNP Paribas Foundation has setup strategic partnerships (such as with Coral Guardian, which works to protect coral reefs, or the collaboration that led to the creation of Corals Matter) and by supporting numerous research projects focusing on interactions between climate and biodiversity. Since 2010, eight research projects on ocean preservation and biodiversity have been supported with a budget of 5.63 million euros and the subject has been shared with 400,000 people.

  • Since the beginning of this year, the Group has also launched Act for Ocean. This program, led in partnership with the fund Pure Ocean, will support innovation for marine biodiversity and raise interest in this critical subject.

  • BNP Paribas also supported the creation in 2016 of the award-winning documentary “A Plastic Ocean” by journalist and film-maker Craig Leeson https://www.bnpparibas-am.com/en/video/craig-leeson-presents-a-plastic-ocean/

Discover our other episodes throughout the summer. Around the theme of sustainability, they address the role of the financial sector in different Sustainable Development Goals, and allow you to identify how you, as an investor, can act for a better and more sustainable future.