A cross-UK coalition is moving the country closer to establishing high-integrity marine natural capital markets to significantly boost the protection and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems.

More than 200 UK and international experts across academia, industry, finance, government and the not-for-profit sector, including scientists at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), have contributed to a new roadmap setting out key recommendations and actions for implementation through to 2030.

A first-of-its-kind for the UK, the strategy was launched by a partnership, comprising The Crown Estate, Blue Marine Foundation, Crown Estate Scotland, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Finance Earth, and the Pollination Group, at the House of Commons on 14 May 2024.

High-Integrity Marine Natural Capital Markets in the UK – A Roadmap for Action presents a pathway to delivering high-integrity marine natural capital markets which can provide much-needed new sources of finance to protect, restore and sustainably manage marine and coastal ecosystems. UKCEH scientists Angus Garbutt and Annette Burden are members of the steering group that has been set up to translate the road map into actions with real impact.

Wetland biogeochemist Annette Burden comments: “The recommendations and roadmap presented in this report set out a clear direction we must take to ensure the health and wellbeing of the UK’s marine and coastal environment. It is a call for action that needs to start now. Bringing together the collective expertise, experience and knowledge of government, industry, finance, academia and not-for-profits is vital, as is the need to work collaboratively towards this shared high-integrity goal.”

The seven recommendations, which are not set out in any order of priority, call on a wide cross-section of stakeholders to address barriers in areas such as funding, target sites for restoration, long-term monitoring, data and evidence, and skills and knowledge to deliver marine natural capital projects at scale. They are:

  1. Identify priority opportunities and approved methods for marine and coastal conservation and restoration.
  2. Deliver seascape-scale natural capital projects through combined public and private funding.
  3. Implement policy and regulatory requirements to drive demand for marine natural capital.
  4. Accelerate the development of UK-wide codes for marine and coastal ecosystem services.
  5. Address critical evidence gaps for the development of marine natural capital markets.
  6. Develop publicly accessible and standardised approaches to data collection, hosting and monitoring.
  7. Build the necessary skills and capacity to harness marine natural capital opportunities.

To access ‘High-Integrity Marine Natural Capital Markets in the UK – A Roadmap for Action’ report, click here. Find out more about UKCEH’s research on saltmarshes and blue carbon, or listen to the Counting the Earth podcast.