UK moves closer to high-integrity marine natural capital markets

The UK has moved closer to establishing high-integrity marine natural capital markets to significantly boost the protection and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems. This follows the launch of a new roadmap setting out key recommendations and actions for implementation through to 2030.

The roadmap, a partnership between The Crown Estate, Blue Marine Foundation, Crown Estate Scotland, EsméeFairbairn Foundation, Finance Earth and Pollination was launched in the House of Commons on 15th May.

‘High-Integrity Marine Natural Capital Markets in the UK – A Roadmap for Action’ has been co-designed through a year-long process involving over 200 UK and international experts across academia, industry, finance, government and not-for-profits.

It 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.

Caroline Price, Head of Nature and Environment, The Crown Estate, said, “The UK’s marine natural and coastal ecosystems play a critical role in underpinning our economy, health and wellbeing. Our coasts, estuaries and offshore waters contribute an estimated £47bn to the economy and support over 500,000 jobs. As appreciation of the services and benefits we draw from marine and coastal ecosystems has grown, so too has the opportunity to recognise this value through market mechanisms that can bring in finance to deliver protection and restoration of our vital marine and coastal environments.

“At The Crown Estate, we’re so pleased to be launching this roadmap that will bring us one step closer to establishing high-integrity marine natural capital markets in the UK. While work is already underway to advance these markets across the four nations, today’s roadmap pulls these different strands together to present a coherent pathway to be used by government, private sector, financial institutions, academia, NGOs, and wider civil society alike, to drive this development forward and unlock investment in marine nature recovery at scale.”

The roadmap includes seven recommendations, which 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.

The recommendations are:

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

The UK’s diverse marine and coastal ecosystems play a critical role in underpinning the economy, health and wellbeing, but they are increasingly threatened by growing pressures including rising temperatures, development, certain fishing and aquaculture practices, water pollution and other anthropogenic impacts.

To safeguard and restore these vital marine and coastal environments, natural capital markets provide a route to leverage payments for ecosystem services and unlock much-needed private finance where public and philanthropic funding is often stretched.

However, if poorly designed, these markets also hold potential risks, such as danger of greenwashing, lack of community involvement and benefit, and short-lived or failed projects to protect and restore marine and coastal ecosystems, reducing investor confidence and deterring investment.

The roadmap sets out steps for developing high-integrity marine natural capital markets which can protect against these risks and deliver real, measurable value for people and nature.

With its seven recommendations and accompanying actions through to 2030, the roadmap builds on an initial synthesis report published last year.

Dan Crockett, Ocean and Climate Director, Blue Marine Foundation, said: “Despite increasing recognition that the ocean is vital in our fight against climate change, we are yet to see ambitious financial investment from the private sector in protecting it.”

Liam McAleese, Director of Our Natural World, Esmée,said, “We urgently need new sources of financing nature recovery at sea, working with and supporting coastal communities. The publication of a road map for high-integrity marine natural capital markets in the UK is an important step forward and must ensure that markets are well regulated and designed around improving outcomes for nature and people.”

Read the roadmap for action, High integrity marine natural capital markets in the UK


Support a practical, investable and inclusive narrative for land use.

Sign-up to receive our newsletter

Newsletter Signup
Contribute for just £2.50 per week
Skip to content