The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was created in 1950 to preserve, through purchasing unique and ecologically important terrestrial and aquatic habitats across the world (Sparling 2014). TNC can act more quickly than government agencies in acquiring land and waters (Sparling 2014). That said, TNC was formed to bring creativity to the conservation of natural heritage with innovative leadership in managing areas for the long-run (Sparling 2014).
The goal of TNC’s Blue Bonds project is to unlock $1.6 billion in funding for the purpose of improving ocean conservation (TNC 2019). TNC aims to ensure the new protection of up to 1.5 million square miles of the world’s most critical ocean habitats. The organization plans to do so by delivering Blue Bonds in as many as 20 countries over the next five years (TNC 2019). The Blue Bonds form insofar as a coastal or island nation commits to protecting at least 30 percent of its near-shore ocean areas, including coral reefs, mangroves, fish spawning sites, and other important ocean habitats and species (TNC 2019). In exchange, TNC helps restructure a portion of the nation’s sovereign debt, leading to lower interest rates and longer repayment periods, and supports ongoing conservation work such as improving fisheries management and reducing pollution (TNC 2019). TNC’s scientists then create a marine spatial plan with input from local communities, including fishing associations, tourism businesses, and government officials (TNC 2019). Finally, TNC establishes a trust fund to pay for the new protected areas using savings from the debt restructuring and philanthropic dollars (TNC 2019).
The map is based upon the unique characteristics of the Blue Bonds project. The Blue Bonds plan was selected, out of 1500 applicants, to be part of the Audacious Project, a TED (Technology Entertainment Design) initiative that funds collaborative philanthropy for bold ideas worth spreading. That said, TED is a high-interest stakeholder as a early supporter of the project and depends on the project’s success to validate its selection of pouring funds into TNC when there were other alternatives. TED is also in a position of high power because it responsible for administering what is currently the only source of the Blue Bonds project’s funding. As a result, TNC has already secured $23 million of the $40 million needed to kickstart the scheme in eventually unlocking a sustainable revenue stream of $1.6 billion (Aldred 2019). The Bridgespan Group is the primary consultant TED collaborated with in order to determine the Audacious Project winners and connect them to donors. That said, it is in power as the direct connection to the actual donors and has high interest for the same reasons as TED. The donors have lower interest because they are donating to the Audacious Project in general, rather than the Blue Bonds project itself. However, they have almost as much power as TED and the Bridgespan Group because each donor contributed to the whole $23 million total the Audacious Project fund allocators have jurisdiction over.
TNC CEO Mark Tercek is the most powerful and interested stakeholder in the project. His power is limitless, considering he has ultimate jurisdiction over its happenings and mentioned he is thinking beyond more traditional approaches to ocean conservation (Aldred 2019). His interest is the highest, as well, considering the program’s success is a reflection of his company. The plan has already been proven to function well at a smaller scale. Starting in 2012, TNC helped create a conservation plan for the islands of Seychelles, located between Madagascar and Kenya, using Blue Bonds. TNC restructured $22 million of the government’s debt and, in exchange, the Seychelles government agreed to protect 30% of its marine areas (TNC 2019). It would not have been possible without grants used to jumpstart the program.
The grants, Blue Grants Fund and Blue Investment Fund, are being managed by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, an independent public-private entity (Schmillen 2020). Three investors – Calvert Impact Capital, Nuveen, and Prudential Financial – each put in $5 million (Schmillen 2020). I placed the three investors on the map as having low power in the newly started, worldwide Blue Bonds project even though they have high-interest in the cause. Since they contributed money in the past, it makes sense to keep them informed about the larger-scale version of the project they previously donated. Doing so may incline them to donate to the worldwide Blue Bonds project in the future. Similarly, Storebrand, the Norwegian financial group, recently invested in a blue bond to reduce pollution and protect marine life in the Baltic Sea (Aldred 2019). So, it makes sense to keep them informed in hopes of receiving financial support for the worldwide Blue Bonds project.
There are also stakeholders who have more power, in terms of being able to donate a larger amount of funds, but have less interest in specifically Blue Bonds. The Nordic Investment Bank issued a $220 million bond to address pollution in the Baltic Sea (Ramhim 2020). Morgan Stanley helped the World Bank sell a $10 million bond for cleaning up plastic waste in oceans — a contribution that the company viewed as a trial (Ramhim 2020).
On the other hand, the World Bank plays a crucial role in the Blue Bonds project in all the various countries. For example, the World Bank’s Treasury supported the Seychelles in reaching out to investors and advising on how to structure the use of proceeds from the bond (The World Bank 2018). The World Bank is also backing Seychelles efforts to build a diversified blue economy via SWIOFish3, a project co-financed by the blue bond (The World Bank 2018). The SWIOFish program supports countries in the South West Indian Ocean region to sustainably develop their fisheries’ sectors by improving fisheries governance, encouraging regional dialogue and cooperation and enhancing the fisheries’ value chain with better conservation, facilities, equipment and training (The World Bank 2018). The development of the blue economy is fully aligned with the Bank’s support for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, notably SDG14, and meeting our corporate twin goals in a sustainable way (The World Bank 2018). Healthy oceans provide jobs and food, sustain economic growth, regulate the climate, and support the well-being of coastal communities (The World Bank 2018). The World Bank’s active Blue Economy portfolio is estimated at around $3.7 billion, with a further $1.5 billion in the pipeline (The World Bank 2018). Projects range from implementing large regional fisheries programs in Africa and the Pacific, to tackling all sources of marine pollution, protecting critical marine habitats and supporting coastal development worldwide (The World Bank 2018). Although the World Bank is not as interested as TNC CEO running the project or investors who have a narrower array of issues on their plates, the gigantic entity has already lended its hand in the Seychelles project and expressed a clear interest in marine conservation. At the same time, the capital it already devoted to the Blue Economy and its capability to grow the pot makes it a significantly powerful stakeholder.
However, other stakeholders who are not necessarily involved with funding also play a crucial role in the project. For example, fishing and tourism industries have a strong interest in the project because of its ability to enhance the health of oceans which is crucial to the success of their pursuits. Furthermore, civil society is highly interested in the Blue Bond project’s ability to boost the general local economy. These groups also hold a substantial amount of power considering the Blue Bonds project’s goals emphasize TNC partners with indigenous people and local communities under the premise that lasting conservation must actively involve the people linked to the natural systems being protected, and their voices must be at the center of what is done. With that said, they must be included on the map as they are strongly considered at all stages of the project. At the same time, I placed scientists at the right-hand border of the box indicating stakeholders who only need to be monitored with minimal effort because they definitely fit into the box in the left corner. However, they have the most interest and power as anyone who would ever fall into that corner. They understand the health of oceans is absolutely crucial to tackling climate change and have the power to implement the most effective solutions.
Aldred, Jessica. 2019. “Nature Conservancy Unveils $1.6 Billion Scheme to Save the Oceans”. China Dialogue Ocean. Accessed January 30 2021. https://chinadialogueocean.net/7672-
Rahim, Saqib. 2020. “How Investors Are Coming Up With the Green to Save the Ocean Blue”.
The Washington Post. Accessed January 30 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/ climate-solutions/2020/10/28/climate-solutions-ocean-conservation/
Schmillen, Joachim. 2020. “Can Blue Bonds Save the World’s Oceans?”. Center for the Blue
Economy and Innovation. Accessed January 30 2021. https://cbei.blog/can-blue-bonds- save-the-worlds-oceans/
Sparling, Donald W. 2014. Natural Resource Administration: Wildlife, Fisheries, Forests and Parks. San Diego: Academic Press.
The Nature Conservancy. 2019. “The Nature Conservancy’s Audacious plan to save the world’s oceans”. Newsroom. https://www.nature.org/en-us/newsroom/the-nature-conservancy-s- audacious-plan-to-save-the-world-s-ocea/
The World Bank. 2018. “Sovereign Blue Bond Issuance: Frequently Asked Questions”. News. Accessed January 30 2021. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2018/10/29/