WHAT IS THE ECONOMY?
We are a leading sustainability consultancy with a marine biologist on our management team. That's no coincidence. Human well-being, sustainable development and economic growth depend on healthy oceans. They significantly influence our climate as well as weather and are among our most important buffer systems. Their phytoplankton produce as much oxygen as land plants, and yet they are the least understood of the world's largest ecosystems and in many ways more unknown to us than the moon.
Beyond the shelf areas (shallow coastal regions up to 200 m water depth), oceans are still poorly understood, despite the fact that more than 200 million people live on the coast and more than a billion people rely directly on the ocean as the world's largest food source. We call our planet Earth, even though it is 70 % covered with water and should really be called Planet Water.
As awareness needs to be raised for the relevance of the world's largest ecosystem (80 % of all life is found in oceans), we advocate for business partner of the UN Ocean Decade to shape oceans the way we need for the future: healthy, full of life, with protected areas – but also as sustainably used economic areas. In the Business Working Group, we support the German Ocean Decade Committee as the only business consultancy and ensure that the goals of the UN Ocean Decade are reflected in our work with businesses.
To make it easy for companies to protect oceans, we created the Oconomy. It is a way of doing business that apparently enables oceans and economy to work together, putting the interests of oceans ahead of purely economic ones. After all, if oceans were an economic power, it would be the seventh largest in the world.
The Oconomy is based on 3 pillars, with which it provides companies with three tools at once:
Corporate sustainability strategies, innovation, and capital providers. These three pillars are in turn based on science as a fundamental basis for action.
Oconomy makes two aspects unmistakably clear:
1. oceans are linked to the economy.
2. oceans come first, then the economy, and not vice versa.
WHY DO WE NEED AN OCONOMY?
Avoiding stakeholders is no longer an option
The demands of external stakeholders are putting companies under increasing pressure. These demands are not only superficial – as they are most visible – such as not adding plastic to the oceans, but also much more complex – such as not participating in deep-sea mining or curbing ocean acidification. Companies are increasingly being confronted with these demands, regardless of whether or not their core business has a direct connection to water or the ocean. If companies do not meet these demands, but try to avoid them, they will encounter problems on the financial market at the latest: initially only through poorer ratings, but in the future also through refusal to be included in so-called Blue Economy funds, for example.
How we support companies
We support companies in the need of the hour: anticipating demands instead of avoiding them. Those who confront demands are ready to embark on a search for strategies and innovative solutions. The latter in particular help companies that understand the principle of economy to gain competitive advantages and a stronger positioning – also on the financial market. We show you how to anchor ocean protection in your sustainability strategy, how to achieve sustainable innovations in your company, and how to gain attractiveness for investors and capital providers.
HOW CAN COMPANIES OPERATE IN THE SPIRIT OF OCONOMY, CREATE VALUE AND BECOME MORE VALUABLE?
What will become important in the medium and long term for companies whose core business has a direct connection to water or the sea, or none at all?
One thing is certain: the time when this issue only affected the former is over. That's why we helped two major German soccer clubs – FC Augsburg and HSV – to holistically design their sustainability strategy. In the process, the topic of water became a central focus. With AUDI, we also defined the topic of water as a key issue in the context of the MISSION:ZERO environmental strategy in production and designed and moderated various workshops on the topic of water.
Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (Fraunhofer IVV), we have developed a Sustainable Innovation Process for the innovation space NewFoodSystems – one of four innovation spaces in the "Bioeconomy Innovation Spaces" program of the "National Research Strategy Bioeconomy 2030" of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The Sustainable Innovation Process (SIP) is suitable for innovations in both the product and service sectors and, thanks to its modular structure, can be used both for innovation projects that are still at the very beginning as well as for those that are already one step further along in their development.
Raising capital: Increasing attractiveness for investors
Companies committed to the marine ecosystem are becoming increasingly attractive to investors. No wonder, given that the global gross value added of key marine sectors such as tourism, shipping, fisheries, aquaculture and renewable marine energy was already estimated by the OECD at US$1.5 trillion in 2010. By 2030, this figure is expected to reach $3 trillion, with some marine industries growing faster than the global economy. Funds focus, for example, on companies that help curb ocean acidification, reduce marine pollution, and those involved in sustainable use of marine resources, ecosystems, and sustainable fisheries. These include companies that contribute to ocean health and focus on sustainable consumption, reducing carbon emissions, and preventing water pollution. There is also a focus on ocean-dependent sectors such as shipping and ports, energy and resources, coastal tourism, and aquaculture.