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SDG 14 – Life below Water

The challenge of marine protection

At the beginning of 2020 British researchers took an unusual approach: they named a newly discovered amphipod species “Eurythenes plasticus” because they found plastic in its body. Scientists at Newcastle University discovered this species at one of the deepest points on earth, in the Mariana Trench. The discovery shows that even there, living creatures accumulate plastic. To draw attention to the state of the oceans and the alarming consequences of the plastic deluge, the researchers integrated the word plastic into the name of the amphipod. They wanted to send a strong message against marine pollution.

After all, the world’s oceans are under severe pressure for a number of reasons: they are polluted, littered, overfished, their species richness is massively compromised. Mangrove forests, sea grass meadows and coral reefs are being lost at breathtaking speed. And climate change is putting even more pressure on the oceans.

Yet the marine ecosystem provides invaluable services . Without the oceans, life on earth in its present form would not be possible. They regulate the climate, produce about half of our oxygen and store a large part of the CO2 emissions. They also absorb most of the additional heat generated by the man-made greenhouse effect. Furthermore, they are home to the greatest biodiversity on the planet and play a vital role in feeding the world. They provide natural resources, serve as trade routes and ultimately as places of recreation. Marine ecosystems are irreplaceable.

Germany is one of the most committed donors to marine conservation in the world. KfW promotes both the conservation of marine biodiversity and sustainable fisheries management and regulated waste management on behalf of the German Federal Government. With commitments totalling over EUR 264 million in 2020, 14 protected areas with about 726,000 hectares of marine land can be protected or sustainably managed. More than 190,000 people benefit from this.

To make marine protection even more effective, KfW has also set up various international funds on behalf of the German Federal Government, each of which is unique: with the Blue Action Fund (BAF)(PDF, 103 KB, non-accessible) KfW supports non-governmental organisations so that they can expand the scope of their work in marine conservation on the ground. Support is available for projects in all parts of the world that establish new protected areas, expand or better manage existing ones and improve and permanently secure the living conditions of local communities through sustainable practices.

With the Clean Oceans Initiative KfW has launched in 2018 an initiative together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the French development agency AFD to combat marine litter in developing and emerging economy countries. Together the three institutions intend to provide EUR 2 billion by 2023 to reduce the amount of plastic waste discharged into the world's oceans. The focus is on projects in the fields of wastewater treatment and waste disposal as well as rainwater management, which prevents plastic waste from being washed into rivers and oceans during heavy rainfall. The funds flow into projects in South Africa, Indonesia and Costa Rica, among other countries. In the meantime two more development banks joined: ICO from Spain (Instituto de Crédito Oficial) and CDP from Italy (Cassa Depositi de Prestiti). The two new members give additional impetus to this special cooperation of European partners.

KfW is also involved in the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF)(PDF, 1 MB, non-accessible). Its radius is limited to the Caribbean, but in this region, which is so important for biodiversity, it helps to expand and strengthen protected areas with long-term funding.

KfW also provided support for the Sustainable Ocean Fund (SOF) since 2019. The fund promotes small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of what is known as the “blue economy” – companies that use the ocean in a sustainable manner and thus preserve and protect its biodiversity.

In June 2021, KfW for its Business Area KfW Development Bank signed the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles to reaffirm and further expand its commitment to marine conservation.

Learn more about the BAF on KfW Stories

Video Clean Oceans Initiative

Clean Oceans Initiative Brochure (english)

Video Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

SDG 14 on the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) website (German only)

“Working against the plastic tsunami"

To mark its anniversary, KfW’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Günther Bräunig discusses its success to date and further areas of action required under the Clean Oceans Initiative.

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Plastic waste in our oceans – act together!

What can we do to get the oceans clean again? KfW has an idea, the Clean Oceans Initiative – and acts!

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KfW's contribution to SDG 14


Protection and sustainable use of the world's oceans

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Read more about biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources on our topic page.

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More commitment to marine protection

The Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

Copyright: KfW Group/Tuppeck-Gehlhar

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