is working to finalize a marine protection for an area totaling the size of Germany. Seychelles is home to the critically endangered hawksbill turtles (seen here).
Seychelles is working to finalize a marine protection for an area totaling the size of Germany. Seychelles is home to the critically endangered hawksbill turtles (seen here). © Christophe Mason-Parker/TNC Photo Contest 2018

2019 Annual Report

Increasing Ocean Protection

In 2019, The Nature Conservancy announced a campaign to increase marine conservation zones around the world by 15% within a decade. But protecting marine resources takes money, and many coastal countries are deeply in debt.

In response, TNC launched a financing program called Blue Bonds for Conservation that tackles the problem from both ends. First, TNC arranges the purchase of part of a country’s national debt, using funds from investment banks. Then, similar to refinancing a home, the debt is restructured with more favorable interest rates and longer repayment terms. This in turn frees up funds to pay for national marine conservation programs. To be eligible for Blue Bonds, a country must commit to protecting a portion of its marine areas, with a target of 30%.

Seychelles is working to finalize a marine protection for an area totaling the size of Germany. The Conservancy has identified dozens of coastal and island countries with potential for the first round of 20 debt conversions. Over the next two decades, the program could generate as much as $1.6 billion for marine conservation.

An ingenious proposal to scale marine protection Island and coastal nations need to protect their waters in order for our oceans to stay healthy. But they often have lots of debt and aren't able to prioritize ocean protection over other needs.