The UN Biodiversity Conference concludes today in Montreal - where world governments have convened to agree to a new set of goals aiming to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity. This ambitious plan should ensure that by 2050, a shared vision of humanity living in harmony with nature is as successfully realised as possible.

With up to 80% of all life on our planet found under the sea surface, it’s important to remind ourselves of the major role our oceans play in everyday life. As well as being crucial for regulating the climate and weather by absorbing much of our carbon emissions, our oceans provide habitats for important species and marine ecosystems that are invaluable for biodiversity.

Countries and territories around the world are looking to transition to a ‘green’ economy that is socially inclusive, resource efficient and, above all, decarbonised. But while many focus on sustainable initiatives within their own territories, the so-called ‘blue economy’ has not been prioritised to date.

You can’t have green without blue

We are unique in our Crown Dependency islands, in that our culture and communities are deeply intertwined with the coast and its marine wildlife. And if local businesses wish to fulfil their ESG targets, the ‘blue’ carbon potential of our surrounding waters must be unlocked.

The blue economy can be described as “the sustainable use of ocean resources to promote economic growth, social inclusion and the preservation or improvement of livelihoods – while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas”.[i] This includes traditional economic activities such as fishing, shipping and tourism, but has also recently expanded to include offshore wind, deep sea mining and – particularly within our islands – ecosystem protection.

KPMG in the Crown Dependencies continues to work with local conservation groups to promote sustainability and climate change mitigation within our jurisdictions. In the Isle of Man, for example, the firm has partnered with Manx Wildlife Trust (“MWT”) to help expand their efforts to conserve and restore key habitats and species.

Seagrass as a powerful CO2 absorber

Much of this lies in the MWT’s seagrass restoration project, which forms a core part of their blue carbon efforts. Seagrass is known to capture carbon dioxide at up to 35 times faster than many tropical rainforests. And while only covering less than 1% of the ocean floor, it is responsible for capturing 10% of oceanic carbon every year.

Dive teams have been busy extracting mature seagrass plants from established meadows and replanting them in proposed donation sites, to promote expansion of this local marine flora. They have also been depositing core sediment samples in existing seagrass beds, which are later sent to the National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton. This is a specialist laboratory which looks for the amount of carbon dioxide the seagrass has sequestered over time.

Seagrass is prevalent not only in the Isle of Man but also across the Channel Islands, thus making it a powerful natural tool in sequestering local carbon. And one example of marine biodiversity that local businesses can harness by investing in their protection and enhancement.

If you’d like to find out more about how KPMG in the Crown Dependencies can help you harness the blue economy in achieving net zero, contact a member of our ESG team.