ADB Ocean Financing Initiative

Image by Ronan Furuta

The Oceans Financing Initiative supports ADB developing member countries to catalyze financing for projects that will help protect and restore marine ecosystems and promote sustainable blue economies.

Dr Walsh has been contracted as the Program Manager of the Ocean Finance Initiative.  

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Ocean Financing Initiative

ADB Blue Bonds

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High-Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy

The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy is a unique group of world leaders from around the globe committed to developing, catalyzing and supporting solutions for Ocean health and wealth in policy, governance, technology and finance.

Read more about the High Level Panel

Final Paper: Blue Paper #9: Ocean Finance: Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Ocean Economy

Dr. Walsh co-leads the Ocean Finance paper for the High Level Panel. The paper examines how the next generation of financing mechanisms can support the ocean transition in an inclusive manner and how catalytic funds can be mobilised to finance that transition. It demonstrates the role insurance can play in accelerating the transition; and how ocean-related subsidies contribute to or detract from the sustainable ocean economy, recommending approaches to be phased out and new solutions that incentivise sustainable management.

Citation: Sumaila, U.R., M. Walsh, K. Hoareau, A. Cox, et al. 2020. Ocean Finance: Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. papers/ocean-finance-financing-transition-sustainable-ocean-economy.


Offshore and High Seas MPA Finance

Pelagic habitats - the open ocean beyond continental shelves - contain high levels of biodiversity, migratory species, and commercially-important species. Protection of pelagic areas through marine protected areas (MPA) is likely to be vital to maintaining ocean health and human well-being. Funding the establishment and implementation of PMPAs, however, is particularly complex due to the remoteness, dynamic and interconnected ecosystems, complex political and governance arrangements, and general lack of revenue-creating sectors that are the

foundation of nearshore MPA finance such as tourism. 

The objective of the project is to raise understanding - for The Pew Charitable Trusts and PMPA practitioners - about the costs and finance strategies appropriate for PMPAs.



Funder: The Pew Charitable Trust

Research Team: Dr Melissa Walsh, Dr Rhona Barr, Camilla Sundberg

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Conservation Finance Alliance - Coastal and Marine Working Group

The Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA) is the leading global professional alliance of conservation finance experts, practitioners, and organizations.  The CFA’s mission it to promote awareness, expertise, and innovation in conservation finance globally. 

Dr. Walsh was the first chair of the Marine and Coastal Finance Working group of the CFA.

The Marine and Coastal Finance Working Group seeks to consolidate and share knowledge and experience around conservation finance solutions pertinent to these critical conservation targets.  The long-term objective is to build capacity among marine and coastal conservation and sustainable use practitioners in the knowledge and use of conservation finance solutions.  The solutions will seek to increase available finance, reduce pressures on the ecosystems through better aligning incentives, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of conservation actions.  Initial focus will be on coral reefs and related ecosystems (mangroves, sea grass) due to the urgency of this challenge.

Learn more and join the working group

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Pacific Ocean Finance Program

The Pacific Ocean Finance Program aims to improve the amount and efficacy of finance for eleven Pacific Island Countries. Dr. Walsh designed and managed the program from inception to Dec 2019.

* Research and development of novel financial instruments including a blue bond, environmental insurance products, large-scale marine protected area finance mechanisms, and small-scale community-driven marine management finance mechanisms

* Support to Pacific Island governments through the development of Ocean Finance Profiles - assessments of the status and opportunities to improve ocean finance for each country context

* Capacity enhancement including the creation of the Pacific Ocean Finance Fellowship and the 2019 Pacific Ocean Finance Conference

Funders: World Bank and Global Environment Facility

Implementing Entities: Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency & Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner

Implementation Partners: Asia Research & Engagement, Willis Towers Watson, Conservation International, Starling Resources, Ocean Assets Institute, WWF Asia Pacific, WWF Landscape Finance Lab, Ikigai Associates, Footprints in the Sand Consulting, Stylus Communications, Conservation Strategy Fund, Conservation Finance Alliance, Wildlife Conservation Society, Rhona Barr, Dominique Benzaken, Torsten Thiele

Lord Howe Island Sharks

Lord Howe Island, a tiny remote World Heritage Area off of Australia, is home to an isolated population of Galapagos whaler sharks. Interactions between the fishers and sharks are of concern to the community. This research investigates community attitudes and behaviours towards sharks, shark population health and behaviours, and management options. Learn more

Funded by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industry

Private Investments for the Great Barrier Reef

What conservation actions in the Great Barrier Reef are attractive to private investment? Dr. Walsh led a consortium of coral reef management and innovative finance experts to identify investment opportunities that will deliver measurable benefits for the Reef.

Learn more


Funded by the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy

Funding Toolkit for Reef Citizen Science

How do citizen science organisations access novel sources of funding? 

This toolkit outlines a process and opportunities for non-profit organisations to access sustainable, strategic finance.

Access the Toolkit

Funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and Boeing

Marine Biodiversity Offsets

Biodiviersty offsets are a regulatory mechanism used by governments to mitigate the environmental impacts of permitted development projects.

Dr. Walsh developed the first marine biodiversity offsets calculator and the Reef Trust strategy for using marine biodiversity offsets. 

Funded by the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy

Partners: University of Queensland, Dr. Martine Maron and Nicole Shumway

Marine Conservation Finance: an emerging field

How big is the marine conservation funding gap? How can we generate more money for marine conservation, and invest it wisely? How do we integrate financial planning into marine conservation planning? How can businesses be part of the solution?


Research project funded by the ARC Centre of Exellence in Coral Reef Studies and the Australian National Environmental Science Program

Download PhD thesis

More information

Watch PhD Confirmation Seminar Video on Youtube

Marine Impact Investing

Are there business models that produce both marine environmental benefits and profits?


This is the first ever global survey of marine impact investments and recommendations for how to grow the sector.



Research project funded by the ARC Centre of Exellence in Coral Reef Studies and the Australian National Environmental Science Program

Reef Water Quality Loan Fund

Which agricultural water quality practices generate economic value? Can we create a revolving loan fund to help agribusinesses lower debt and improve environmental outcomes? 

Research project funded by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Science to Management Award), ARC Centre of Exellence in Coral Reef Studies and the Australian National Environmental Science Program

Economic Value of the Great Barrier Reef

Money is the language of development, and translating the multiple values of coral reefs into the language of money assists in reef protection and management. Governments and corporations can use natural capital data and economic valuations to improve ecological and financial outcomes.


This project provides a novel perspective and numerical estimate of the monetary values of the Great Barrier Reef.


Research project funded by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority