Coalition of philanthropic funders invests $250 million to supercharge ocean-based climate solutions
Dubai, UAE — Many of the world’s leading philanthropic funders of ocean research and conservation have joined forces to launch the Ocean Resilience and Climate Alliance.
The formation of the Alliance was formally announced on 2 December at a special event hosted at the COP28 Ocean Pavilion and attended by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson; Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO, Patti Harris; President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Peter de Menocal; and Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, Margaret Leinen.
With an initial pledge of more than $250 million, the ORCA fund combines the collective power of philanthropies, nonprofit organizations, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples to protect our precious ocean ecosystems and the frontline coastal communities that are most impacted by ocean-climate issues.
“Science has shown just how powerful a role the ocean plays in staving off the impacts of rising emissions,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “It’s a tremendous ally in the climate fight, but it’s also under siege – and we have to step up to protect it. Together with an incredible group of philanthropic partners, we’re doing just that by investing in ocean-based solutions that fight the climate crisis, from off-shore wind power development to marine habitat restoration.”
“If you care about climate change, you need to be thinking about the ocean,” said Peter de Menocal, President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “In 2023, we experienced some of the most alarming ocean and weather extremes ever recorded, which underscores the urgent need for science-based solutions to protect people and the planet. We welcome the news of this visionary new fund to accelerate research into ocean-based climate solutions.”
“Recent ocean observations show that the oceans have absorbed a shocking amount of heat energy that will affect climate and ocean ecosystems for decades to come,” said Margaret Leinen, vice chancellor for Marine Sciences at UC San Diego and director of Scripps Oceanography. “We must have the capability to measure and monitor ocean conditions if we are to understand what society and indeed, all life on Earth, is up against. I commend these philanthropic institutions for focusing on this critical issue and leveraging their financial might to help protect our ocean.”
“I’m very glad to see several of our private donor partners, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Builders Vision, Oceankind and many others announce a major new infusion of funding into ocean-climate solutions,” said H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High Level Champion for COP28. “The Ocean Resilience and Climate Alliance is an ambitious, collaborative funding effort that will help us to both protect the oceans from harm and better understand the role they play in climate change. It will invest in protections for vulnerable marine areas – helping us reach the U.N. goal of protecting 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030."
The ocean is one of our most powerful yet often overlooked allies in the battle against climate change. Studies show that ocean-based interventions could account for nearly half of the necessary carbon solutions needed to keep global warming below 2°C. Strengthening coastal resilience efforts is also critical to protect the well-being of the nearly 1.4 billion people around the world who live in coastal and low-lying areas. Despite this, funding to climate mitigation accounts for just 2% of total philanthropic giving, and ocean conservation receives less than 1%.
The initial $250+ million investment from ORCA will infuse new capital into seven core areas over a five-year period, poised to drive significant transformation for the ocean and climate. These areas include high-impact measures in emissions reduction, such as rapidly scaling offshore wind development, with the potential to alleviate over 7% of emissions necessary to curb global warming below 2°C. Additionally, efforts will be directed towards decarbonizing the shipping industry, aiming to prevent a potential increase in carbon emissions from shipping to 1.5 Gt CO2e by 2050.
Funders include Ballmer Group, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Builders Vision, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, Oak Foundation, Oceankind, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Rivian Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Vere Initiatives.
The Ocean Pavilion returns to COP for a second year to underscore the integral role of our ocean in climate and serve as the central hub for conference delegates to exchange ideas on addressing the climate crisis by leveraging ocean science and solutions. Throughout the two-week conference, the pavilion, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, will feature more than 80 events, meetings, and in-depth discussions that elaborate on a set of conference themes, including Rising Seas, Climate & the Living Ocean, and Blue Economy & Finance.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies (https://www.bloomberg.org)
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.7 billion.
About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (https://www.whoi.edu)
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of ocean data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policies for a healthier planet. Learn more at whoi.edu.
About UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (https://scripps.ucsd.edu)
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.