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Bloomberg Philanthropies Supports Launch of New Project Incubator to Help Commonwealth Governments Implement High-Impact Ocean Solutions

Lisbon, Portugal – Today, at the Commonwealth Blue Charter Champions and Partners Strategy meeting at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced its support for the Commonwealth Blue Charter Project Incubator, a new effort to help governments develop and implement high-impact pilot projects to reduce threats to the ocean and improve community resilience. With Bloomberg’s support, the Incubator will help the governments accelerate their transition to sustainable and inclusive maritime development and marine conservation, while mitigating and adapting to climate change.

This expands Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative’s existing partnership with the Commonwealth to help its 54 member countries build sustainable fisheries, protect the most resilient coral reefs, and expand ‘blue carbon’ solutions under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, an agreement by the countries to work together to solve ocean challenges. The member countries, especially the 47 with coastlines, are already seeing the negative impacts of climate change on the ocean, marine life, and coastal communities.

The ocean is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, protecting the planet from the worst impacts of climate change by absorbing 90 percent of the excess heat caused by emissions produced by human activity. But as climate change intensifies, the ocean is changing faster than it ever has – increasing coral death, coastal erosion, and weakening its ability to regulate global climate and weather patterns. As the single largest habitat on earth, the ocean is inextricably linked to human survival, but has been largely overshadowed in the climate change debate – receiving less than one percent of all philanthropic funding. The small island and coastal states most directly affected by the impacts of climate change are often least able to access these limited funds. The CBC Incubator aims to help dismantle these barriers by working with these states to develop shovel ready, fundable project solutions.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, stated:

“The challenges of ocean and climate change facing our planet and our people are profound, and they can only be overcome through partnership and collaboration. However, global funding for ocean-related targets under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goal 14) continues to be the lowest among all the SDGs. I am therefore delighted that we are able to join forces once again with one of the world’s leading philanthropic organisations to deliver concrete benefits to our Commonwealth ocean states, to support marine conservation and the development of sustainable blue economies.”

Patricia E. Harris, CEO, Bloomberg Philanthropies, said:

“Bloomberg Philanthropies is looking forward to expanding our partnership with the Commonwealth. Protecting the ocean is a fight we must win in the battle against climate change. This new initiative – the Blue Charter Project Incubator – will help Commonwealth governments develop solutions that address threats to the ocean and promote sustainable maritime development and marine conservation. We’re excited to help launch it.”

Adviser and lead for the Commonwealth Blue Charter programme at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr Jeff Ardron added:

“Coastal and island states are in desperate need of practical home-grown solutions. The Project Incubator will encourage good local ideas to germinate and grow.”

The Incubator, which was unveiled at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda last week, will provide mentoring and technical support to governments on the development of ocean-related pilot projects, facilitate partnerships with non-governmental entities to scale impact, and ensure vital seed funding for projects that are ready to proceed. Additionally, the Incubator will encourage innovative ideas, support the engagement of women, youth, indigenous peoples and local communities, and focus support on proof-of-concept to small-sized projects. The Incubator is available to all Commonwealth member countries, including 47 member countries that border the ocean, 25 of which are small island developing states (SIDS) or ‘large ocean states’.

As climate change increasingly threatens key ocean ecosystems, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative is working around the world to advance evidence-based conservation practices and implement data-driven policies to protect our ocean and the 3 billion people that depend on it. The Initiative has dedicated nearly $200 million to ocean conservation efforts to date – focusing on efforts that protect and restore the world’s ocean by promoting ocean conservation, protecting resilient coral reef habitats, and reducing the practice of harmful and illegal overfishing. The Initiative currently operates with local organizations and global partners Rare, Oceana, Global Fishing Watch, and the Wildlife Conservation Society in 10 countries – Australia, The Bahamas, Chile, Fiji, French Polynesia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Tanzania, Peru, and the United States.


About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 941 cities and 173 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 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.66 billion. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter and LinkedIn.

About Commonwealth Blue Charter
The Commonwealth Blue Charter is an agreement by all 54 Commonwealth countries, adopted at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, April 2018. In the Blue Charter, Commonwealth countries agree to actively cooperate to solve ocean-related problems and meet commitments for sustainable ocean development, with particular emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 14 (Life Below Water).

Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups implement the Blue Charter. They are member-driven, led by ‘Champion’ countries’. To date, 16 countries have stepped forward to be Champions on ten topics they identified as priorities. Action Groups will unlock the power of 54 nations and guide the development of tools and training, they are: Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, Coral Reef Protection and Restoration, Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods, Marine Protected Areas, Ocean Acidification, Ocean and Climate Change, Ocean Observation, Sustainable Aquaculture, Sustainable Blue Economy and Sustainable Coastal Fisheries.

Media Contacts:
Daphne Wang
Bloomberg Philanthropies

Josephine​ Latu‑Sanft
Commonwealth Secretariat
+44 20 7747 6476