Protecting and conserving the marine environment is essential for human life and the economy. The oceans play a central role in regulating our climate and provide key ecosystem services, such as the production of oxygen and carbon sequestration. Yet after centuries of treating marine habitats as an inexhaustible resource, at least a third of fish stocks are now depleted, while microplastic pollution has become endemic and is working its way up the food chain. This has potentially dangerous consequences for human health.
Failing to protect marine ecosystems will have negative consequences for the global economy, posing a systemic risk to long-term investments. There are business model risks for industries such as tourism, while changing sea levels and stronger, more frequent hurricanes pose a physical risk to businesses located in coastal areas. And if a company is linked to ocean pollution it can result in reputational damage, impacting its share price.
Investors should be aware of these risks and how the companies in which they are invested impact the oceans. This will involve scrutinising the impact of different companies and sectors on ocean sustainability. Engagement with policymakers will also be required to ensure that the right frameworks and incentives are established to protect ocean health and account for the externalities that damage oceans.
This article appears in our Q2 2021 Public Engagement Report.