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Blue Blog: Builders Vision Oceans Team Sails Through the United Nations Oceans Conference

When it comes to caring for the environment and our communities, our oceans are a uniting cause. One could witness this collective energy in action at this year’s United Nations Oceans Conference (UNOC) in Lisbon, Portugal. A global convening attended by seven members of the Builders Vision team, the week-long event showcased the broad vision of the United Nation’s Ocean Decade and SDG 14. Our team unanimously agreed: the UNOC was a testament to the multidisciplinary and global approaches needed to tackle the complex, oft-overlooked challenges impacting our oceans.

Here are some quick highlights from the week!

Day One, June 27th, Collaboration Builds an Strong Investment Ecosystem

On June 27, Builders Vision had the pleasure to join with our partner 1000 Ocean Startups on an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Networking Event. 1000 Ocean Startups is a cohort of innovators representing the vanguard of the blue economy that focuses on business development aimed at ocean resiliency.

We joined with organizations such as SWEN Capital Partners, Katapult Ocean, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and Ocean Hub Africa, convening over 200 people to engage with each other on impact investing in ocean sustainability and climate action. A panel discussion titled How Can Entrepreneurship Programs Support Startups for Ocean Impact? included Kate Danaher, Managing Director of S2G’s Oceans and Seafood Fund, along with Ron Tardiff Pillar Lead of Friends of Ocean Action; Ted Janulis, Founder and Principal at Investable Oceans; Rita Sousa, Partner at Faber Oceans; and Christian Lim, Managing Director at SWEN Blue Ocean.


Day Two, June 28th, Builders Announces Blended Capital Commitment to Help Save Our Coral Reefs

Our second day at UNOC featured a main event called the Sustainable Blue Economy Investment Forum (SBEIF), hosted by the Governments of Portugal and Kenya. John Kerry, the USA’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, led the gathering with keynote remarks. The forum focused on the blue economy’s shift from “the model of simple resource extraction and depletion that has defined the last century and transition to a circular and inclusive economic model.”

Perhaps the most exciting part of the week was Peter Bryant’s announcement that Builders Vision will join the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) coalition with a commitment of $10 million - including an investment of $5 million to the GFCR Equity Fund and a contribution of $5 million to the catalytic GFCR Grant Fund. With this commitment, Builders Vision becomes the first private investor to the GFCR Equity Fund, reinforcing confidence in the potential for blended finance vehicles to attract private investors focused on accelerating nature-positive economic transitions.

Like the global coral reef fund, we take a multi-tool approach to solving problems – with flexible capital being deployed philanthropically and through impact investing,” Bryant remarked. “We deploy concessionary, charitable, and market-driven capital to lift up and scale the innovations and solutions needed urgently to build more resilient ecosystems that will help to save our seas. We hope to create a flywheel effect that helps to generate further momentum.”

That night, our team members attended a special dinner put on by the United Nations Global Compact, Fed by Blue, and The Chef’s Manifesto. Entitled Blueprint for the Future: Good Food For All, Builders Vision team members dined with sustainable leaders from across the globe, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and the Global Seafood Alliance. Also featured were ORIVO, KVAROY Arctic Salmon, Wholechain, Sea and Flour, Cruz Foam, StartUp Portugal, and Akua kelp burgers. On the backdrop of historic ruins, It was a stellar reflection of how sustained oceans can create sustainable (and delicious) food systems.

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Day Three, June 29th, Impact Reporting for Investing in Our Oceans

On the third morning of UNOC, James Lindsay, Vice President of Investments at Builders Initiative, offered opening remarks at the launch of the 1000 Ocean Startups’ Impact Navigator Tool, a new open-source impact KPI framework designed to streamline impact reporting for ocean innovators and investors.

“Builders Vision is proud to support the Ocean Impact Navigator because it can help both investors and businesses. It is designed to be an easy-to-use resource for measuring and reporting impact results,” Lindsay said. “It will measure key performance indicators across the majority of potential impact areas the businesses 1000 Ocean Startups supports will encounter.”

The end goal of this new tool is to grow a credible evidence base that partners can use to make informed decisions when deploying their capital toward promoting ocean health.

Later that day, our team members attended a forum on Blue Foods for Coastal Communities and Coral Reef Conservation: Achieving Zero Hunger and Biodiversity Goals, while Peter Bryant spoke on an Ocean Innovation panel hosted by Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and Blue Action Ventures. Prince Albert opened the forum that brought together industry leaders offering strategies and innovative solutions to restore and fortify the world's oceans.

Builders Vision wrapped the day with two different celebrations, which included a cocktail reception with Prince Albert and a party with the Sustainable Oceans Alliance. Both presented fabulous opportunities to knowledge-share and build community, two critical elements of meaningful advocacy work.

Day Four, June 30th, A Blended Approach to Oceans Solutions is Required

Our team kicked things off with the Pegasus Capital Advisors Breakfast, which featured a roundtable focused on blended approaches to oceans solutions. We know from our own work that capital needs to be deployed strategically through both VC and philanthropy in order to have an enduring impact.

Day Five, July 1st, UNOC Press Conference Highlights Builders Vision Partnership and Commitment

Builders Vision’s last major event at UNOC was a press conference where James Lindsay met with Peter Thomson, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy to the Oceans, and highlighted our new $10 million commitment to the Global Fund for Coral Reefs and its significance for both Builders Vision and the GFCR.

Coral reefs continue to face rapid extinction with global consequences: collapsing livelihoods, eroding food security, decreasing coastal protection, and eroding climate adaptation efforts. Alongside Bloomberg Philanthropies and BNP Paribas, Builders Vision’s capital will further activate a global blended finance portfolio through the GFCR’s “Investment Ecosystem” to protect our fragile coral reefs.

Departing Lisbon, the sense of momentum was the best souvenir. As we boarded our planes back to the U.S., we felt a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to our oceans and a sense of community with the many new friends we made during our time there.

UNOC saw a strong and ener­getic pres­ence by entre­pre­neurs and fun­ders, as well as the younger gen­er­a­tion. We were also pleased to see that phil­an­thropic cap­i­tal had such a strong show­ing at UNOC And we hope to see more and more indus­try involve­ment as that will be essen­tial to solv­ing these her­culean prob­lems. We are all in this boat together.””

— Larsen Mettler, Managing Director of S2G’s Oceans and Seafood Fund