Innovation Challenge Winners

Four winning solutions were selected for our first Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, launched in 2020 and completed in 2021. Our first cohort of winners offer financial innovations that, beyond delivering a genuine locally-led impact, have broader potential to build resilience and mitigate ocean and climate risk. Using ORRAA’s role as a connector and catalyst, we have worked with all four teams to scale and accelerate their project’s impact – Read more on the four projects below.

We are now calling for a new set of innovations in our second Challenge.

MARI Indonesia

Empowering seaweed farmers through financial and technical innovation

Seaweed is increasingly recognised as a multifaceted nature-based solution, with growing research pointing to its many qualities in terms of carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and as a nature-positive alternative to agriculture. The range of ecological and economic benefits offered by seaweed are likely to make its cultivation one of the fastest growing sectors in the sustainable blue economy.

To help fulfill the potential of cultivated seaweed for farmers and their families, MARI Indonesia is working with farmers in Sulawesi to upgrade the production chain through finance and innovation and to enhance their prospects through the use of technology, access to finance and insurance, and improved governance. Sulawesi is home to over 60% of Indonesia’s seaweed farmers, and MARI’s aim is to empower them, and ultimately other communities around the world, to draw on the full economic and environmental benefits of seaweed to build their long-term resilience.

MARI’s approach is designed to put every stage of the cycle in the hands of the farmers. Solutions range from ensuring the seedlings purchased are climate-resilient and high-yielding, to deploying sensors that monitor key variables in order to select the best growing sites; and from using a blockchain-based digital platform that provides real time data, connectivity and transparency of transactions, to organising harvesting teams and aggregating operations and sales to rebalance the relationship with buyers.

As an Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge winner, MARI has been challenged by ORRAA to refine its business model and value proposition to both investors and stakeholders. During this process, MARI also honed its financial model, expanded its connections in the seaweed and conservation sectors, and built critical skills for building their business model through the ORRAA Leadership Academy.

The project is on track to establish its first hatchery by the beginning of 2022. Its goal is to produce 64,000 tonnes of seaweed a year by 2023, generating revenues in excess of US$10 million, and stabilising income and access to finance for over 1000 people.

mari image

Aqua Farms Organization (AFO), Tanzania

Creating sustainable alternative livelihoods from restored mangroves through a voluntary carbon market

Mangrove forests provide a host of ecosystem services and sequester five to 10 times more carbon than terrestrial forests. Yet, like other valuable coastal ecosystems, mangroves are amongst the most threatened habitats on earth, with climate change and human activities driving their destruction. In Tanzania, mangroves are routinely cut down for firewood, medicinal, construction materials, or trampled to access floodplains used for fishing and to create rice fields, despite government action and voluntary efforts by communities to stop these practices.

To reverse this trend and create ways for people to benefit from mangrove conservation rather than their degradation, Aqua-Farms Organization (AFO), a NGO dedicated to supporting a sustainable blue economy, is working with the Mbweni and Kunduchi communities on the outskirts of Dar-es-Salaam to create a Voluntary Community Mangrove Carbon Credit (VCMCC) market. The project’s goal is to improve the communities’ resilience by generating long-term revenue from their local forests.

AFO has worked with local women’s groups to train them on replanting mangroves. Since 2018, over 13,000 mangrove seedlings have been successfully replanted across four hectares of mangroves both at Mbweni and Kunduchi sites. In parallel, AFO is providing beehives, tools and training to over 40 women, empowering them to earn an independent and sustainable alternative source of income.

Through the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, ORRAA has supported AFO in refining its business model and in conducting research to quantify the amount of carbon sequestered by the restored forests. ORRAA is helping AFO set up a partnership with Plan Vivo to verify its estimates, provide certification to its carbon credits, and connect with potential voluntary buyers.

The project is expected to generate around $100,000 in revenue in its first five years through the sale of carbon credits to voluntary buyers and through beekeeping. In its first 20 years, the project will enable the capture of 60,000 tons of CO2. Beyond incentivising the restoration of precious ecosystems, the project will directly benefit the community by ensuring the funds raised go to finance village facilities such as water wells and education equipment. AFO has also earmarked 15% of the project’s revenue to be used for the creation of a Mangrove Conservation Fund dedicated to scale the initiative and expand it to two more mangrove forests in North Tanzania.

mari image

rePurpose Global, India

Creating plastic credits to reduce waste, support livelihoods and restore nature

In India’s western states of Kerala and Goa, waste and litter from tourism activities accumulates along the coast and, in certain areas, overwhelms local waste management capacity. This challenge is further exacerbated by the limited geographical accessibility of some locations; few opportunities for resource recovery; and limited availability of financing, which prevents local waste management organizations from serving the region cost effectively.

By providing bridge financing to local waste management operations, RePurpose Global helps to ensure efficient waste management through additional waste collector capacity, improved resource recovery, and increased user fees. The project also seeks to build additional capacity in processing, resulting in improved sorting and repurposing of higher-value plastic, and less waste being mismanaged or discarded.

The projects improves the lives of the plastic collectors by paying fairer wages, leading to a direct injection of liquidity (and dignity) into the communities that are engaged with the collection process. The access to the plastic credit market that RePurpose provides to the local aggregators helps stabilize prices and jobs in the community, reducing the vulnerability of waste workers. It also leads to a more healthy ocean and coast.

RePurpose was selected as a winning project for ORRAA’s first Innovation Challenge for its innovative plastic credits approach, which has tremendous potential to scale given that it builds on existing work around carbon credits. Through the Challenge, ORRAA is helping RePurpose develop a robust and scalable business model considerate of the industry’s projected growth and emerging plastic and carbon credit opportunities.

repurpose image

Marine Change

Small scale fishermen lack access to basic financial and insurance instruments that can provide a safety net for them and their families against accelerating climate change impacts. Extreme weather events are increasingly reducing fishing days of small vessels, causing loss of income and threatening livelihoods.

Marine Change, a specialist advisory firm focused on sustainable blue investments, is working with global insurer Willis Towers Watson to design a parametric insurance product tailored to cover small scale fishermen against climate-related risks, developing a pilot for the Chen Woo fishery, a collective of over 2,500 tuna fishermen in Indonesia.

Chen Woo fishermen are highly dependent on the high season to sustain their communities. Most of them do not own their own boats and have to incur costs for rental and fuel upfront, irrespective of their catch. They have few alternative employment opportunities, and bad weather can lead them to overfish or use methods that harm valuable ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves. This in itself can undermine their community’s resilience, which relies on healthy coastal nature to protect them from hurricanes or flooding.

The new instrument will trigger pay outs when pre-defined events, such as high wind speeds, prevent fishers from going out to sea and earning their income. The Chen Woo fishery will be the aggregate policy holder (as the vast majority of fishers do not have bank accounts), with funds being distributed to individual fishers through its existing supply chain.

While parametric insurance is already used in agriculture, this product would be the first time this type of insurance is being tailored specifically to fisheries. Many of the challenges and threats facing Chen Woo fishers apply to countless fishing-dependent communities in the Global South. The product is therefore in the process of being designed to allow for adaption, replication and scaling to fisheries worldwide, with a particular focus on encouraging the restoration of degraded ecosystems.

Through the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge, ORRAA is supporting Marine Change in the development of the product, the concept, and how it can be presented to partners and funders.