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Marine Science



Blue Action making a global impact by supporting local ocean protection. To celebrate the five-year anniversary of its launch in 2016, the Blue Action Fund (hereafter “Blue Action”) is releasing a new Impact Report to share the inspirational achievements of the projects it supports to protect the ocean and build resilient coastal communities.

The ocean provides food and livelihoods for billions of people and could deliver over 20% of the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C – but action to build the sustainable ocean we desperately need currently receives less than 1% of global official development assistance. Blue Action is providing a cutting-edge solution for filling this massive gap in ocean protection funding.

Less than five years since the start of its unique Grant Programme, Blue Action is today one of the world’s largest public funders promoting marine conservation and sustainable coastal livelihoods. And, through the exceptional impact made by the projects it helps fund, Blue Action is already on track to establish or strengthen over 350,000 km2 of marine protected areas (MPAs) and directly benefit more than 225,000 people around the shores of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific.

These projects are working on the frontline of the global nature and climate crisis to combat the devastating decline in ocean biodiversity, bolster defences against climate change, and create sustainable opportunities for local people. From Mozambique to the Galapagos, South Africa to the Solomon Islands, projects supported by the Blue Action Grant Programme are providing a lifeline to a healthy ocean and making a real difference to people who depend on the sea for survival.

Blue Action’s Executive Director, Markus Knigge reports that:

“our grantees are driving change both out in the water and in the heart of their communities by expanding effective marine protection and strengthening local livelihoods. Their projects are living proof that ‘blue action’ can unleash multiple benefits by boosting food security, job creation, climate resilience, and community stability in some of the world’s most vulnerable coastal regions.”

Initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and KfW Development Bank, Blue Action is also supported by the governments of Sweden, France and Norway, and has received funding from the Green Climate Fund. That creates an efficient, one-stop platform where NGOs can access funds to support their work and encourages greater investment in practical ocean conservation where it matters most.

As Heike Vesper, Head of Ocean Protection at WWF Germany, says:

“It’s vital that wealthy governments walk the talk and increase their financial support or we will not achieve internationally agreed targets to protect our ocean. The rapid growth of the Blue Action Fund shows how public funding can be a game-changer for life in the ocean and people on the ground.”

Blue Action invests in local projects but it is a key part of the global ocean movement that is creating a wave of change across our blue planet. World governments are on the brink of agreeing a critical new global target to protect 30% of the planet’s land and waters by 2030 – expected to be announced at the COP15 Biodiversity Summit in Kunming, China, in April this year. Meeting this goal is an essential – and enormous – challenge. Today MPAs only cover about 8% of the ocean, and less than 3% is fully protected. Projects supported by Blue Action are not only contributing directly to the ’30 by 30′ target but create a blueprint for funding effective local ocean protection action that can be replicated around the world.

“Protecting marine biodiversity and building a sustainable ocean economy are global priorities. We are delighted by the positive impacts made by the projects supported by Blue Action in its first five years and look forward to working together to strengthen ocean protection and coastal livelihoods even further in the future.” said Markus Knigge.

As well as the ’30 by 30′ target, Blue Action will also help address the ten challenges for collective impact set by the UN Decade for Ocean Science that was launched in 2021 – including to protect and restore biodiversity and to unlock ocean-based solutions to climate change.

Collective impact through local engagement is key to the success of all the projects highlighted in the Blue Action Impact Report. They show how, by working closely with artisanal fishers, women’s cooperatives, grassroots conservationists, and local authorities, it is possible to combat dramatic losses in marine biodiversity while improving the lives of local people – and helping to meet global ocean targets.


Blue Action Fund recognises the ocean’s fundamental role in ensuring the health of our planet and the wellbeing of mankind. Our vision is of a carefully managed and sustainably used ocean full of abundant, healthy marine life providing major benefits to people and the environment. Our mission is to enhance the management and use of coastal and marine ecosystems to conserve marine biodiversity for future generations while improving the lives of local people today. We pursue that mission by making targeted grants to non-governmental organisations active in developing countries.

Blue Action Fund was founded in 2016 as a non-profit foundation by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in conjunction with KfW Development Bank. Subsequently, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) became funding partners and Blue Action Fund is now one of the world’s largest public funders promoting marine conservation and sustainable livelihoods in coastal communities.