SEADS 2023 Thematic Session

An Ocean of Opportunity: How a Sustainable Blue Economy Creates Pathways toward Net Zero 

Organizers: Asian Development Bank and Climateworks Centre
30 March • 16:00–17:30 GMT+8/ Bali Local Time


  • Scene Setter: Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), Indonesia
  • Francesco Ricciardi, Senior Environment Specialist, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, ADB
  • Yann Martres, Country Director, Indonesia, French Development Agency (AFD)
  • Richard Jeo, Senior Vice-President, Conservation International
  • Anna Stablum, Director, Sales and Origination, Climate Impact X
  • Moderator: Sali Bache, Lead, International Policy and Oceans, Climateworks Centre


Oceans are critical in slowing the rising tide of climate change, but institutional arrangements and targeted investment are needed to catalyze high-impact blue economies. This session delves into how the coordinated efforts of institutional arrangements and blue finance mechanisms will contribute to advancing a vibrant blue economy in Southeast Asia.


The importance of the ocean–climate nexus regarding both ocean health and climate ambitions is increasingly being recognized by governments, investors, and not-for-profits. The oceans have inherent proactive and reactive value. They act as powerful carbon sinks, absorbing about 40% of carbon dioxide emissions. The market value of marine and coastal resources is estimated at $3 trillion per year, about 5% of global gross domestic product, providing benefits to several industries. Therefore, the ocean has a crucial role in climate mitigation and creating pathways toward net zero.

However, a growing number of natural and human-induced threats, including rising sea levels, ocean warming, unsustainable fishing, and increased marine pollution, are hindering the potential of the blue economy in Southeast Asia. In a region where 625 million people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, achieving a sustainable blue economy is one way countries can balance economic, social, and environmental needs while working toward net zero. 

In addition, the region is home to 31% of the world’s mangroves and 33% of seagrass beds, making blue carbon ecosystems a source of carbon sequestration and a key industry toward realizing climate mitigation and enhancing coastal resilience. Therefore, marine coastal resilience and blue carbon is a key area of blue economic significance for Southeast Asia. However, blue carbon markets are not yet fully embedded within national policies, thus hindering potential investments. 

Increased institutional efforts, harmonized policy frameworks, and further sources of blue finance from private and public investors will contribute to Southeast Asia’s transition toward net zero. The seascape is swelling with opportunities and to capitalize on this momentum, there needs to be a clear articulation of how low-emission pathways can include commitments to the ocean, through the adoption of blue policies, identification of blue projects, and alignment with globally recognized blue principles to ensure a just and holistic transition toward net zero.


The session aims to increase awareness and catalyze action toward building blue economies by:

  • Identifying institutional arrangements for impact;
  • Exploring opportunities, challenges, and examples of good practice: the case of coastal resilience; and
  • Highlighting pathways for scaling blue investment opportunities.

Back to Agenda