This report describes our latest progress with the Future Climate Coral Bank project, the first project supported by the Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund (DBORPF), and our decision to partner up with Leviathan, a foundation established by the artist Shezad Dawood, to develop a ground-breaking analysis of Nature-based Solutions (NbS).
The transition of economies and society towards sustainability is the biggest challenge facing the world today, which is why Deutsche Bank is putting sustainability at the centre of its business and corporate initiatives and ambitions for the future.
In October 2021, Deutsche Bank launched the Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund (DBORPF), the first of its kind by a financial institution. The Fund aims to make a real and tangible impact in advancing Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for ocean and marine ecosystems’ conservation, restoration and adaptation to climate change. This is to be achieved by creating the opportunity for philanthropists and the scientific community to collaborate on ocean conservation efforts. To this end, we have created a Grant Advisory Council comprising members of the scientific and research communities and institutions who provide the expertise required to analyse, vet and monitor new projects. Over the past months, the Council has met regularly and is continually developing its criteria and knowledge around the programmes and projects in the field.
NbS are increasingly being viewed not only as a way to reconcile economic development with the stewardship of ecosystems, but also as a means of diversifying and transforming businesses and enabling sustainable development. NbS can be used at different scales and in combination with more conventional or ‘grey’ solutions. In contrast with the latter, NbS are distinguished by their multifunctionality and ability to both conserve and grow the stock of natural capital. Natural capital can be defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things. The benefits of NbS have been found to outweigh the costs of implementation and maintenance in a range of contexts, including disaster risk reduction along coasts and in river catchments.
The Fund is open to donations from philanthropists globally, providing donors with a dedicated framework to support ocean conservation. It is a Donor Advised Fund and will be administered in the UK by the Charities Aid Foundation. Philanthropy is one important channel to close the wide financing gap for NbS projects, providing the much-needed capital to expand restoration efforts and foster innovation. It can play a vital role in the world’s response to climate change by targeting geographies and solutions that are most in need of support but cannot be funded solely via private market mechanisms.
Since the start of 2023 we have hosted several conversations with scientific experts and stakeholders. We held presentations and discussions at Frieze LA and have organised dedicated discussions for Frieze NY, Ocean Week and our Next Gen programme attendees. Importantly, we keep increasing our connections to the scientific community and thought-leaders, with a focus on creating a collaborative environment for the many stakeholders needed to make an impact. Lastly, we are looking at ways to include a philanthropic dimension into our investment products’ offering and we have launched an employee donations program, allowing our employees to contribute to this great cause.
In addition, we explored several interesting projects as next candidates for support by our DBORPF. After several consultations, we have decided to partner up with Leviathan, a foundation established by UK-based artist Shezad Dawood, to develop a ground-breaking analysis of NbS, as well as foster international collaboration and exchange, while supporting ethnic minority early- career researchers. The project will fund the meta-analysis by a postdoctoral researcher of the costs and benefits of NbS; invite two international PhD students of ethnic minority background to conduct research alongside Dr. Louise Firth and her research team at the University of Plymouth; and fund a research trip for a PhD student from Firth’s research group at one of the University’s collaborative international institutes.
The DBORPF aims to quickly deploy unrestricted funds in response to the urgent challenge of ocean degradation, backing highly innovative projects directly, promoting collaboration with scientific experts and developing cutting-edge solutions. In addition, through these bi-annual reports we are working to educate our existing and prospective clients on the importance of philanthropy capital for NbS in ocean conservation, raising their awareness of these important topics.