Main Issue

The oceans provide the world with a wealth of resources and services on which we depend: food, clean air, a stable climate, transport and energy, recreation and livelihoods. Yet human activities on land and in the ocean are causing rapid deterioration of these valuables marine and coastal ecosystems. Habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, overfishing, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification are causing unprecedented degradation.  These declines are driven by rising demand for resources, technological advances, lack of viable alternative livelihoods, overcapacity and weak governance.

Well-functioning, transboundary, ocean governance schemes are crucial to achieve long-term sustainable use of our ocean resources. These approaches need to ensure cooperation at global to local scales, across sectors from fisheries to tourism to transportation and among government, academia, non-profit and business sectors.

What We Do

The GEF works with partners to improve ocean governance with and across nations. Through such transboundary partnerships, we help countries develop regional institutional frameworks. These policy frameworks, in turn, enable countries to implement ecosystem-based approaches to manage fisheries and other marine and coastal resources, including fisheries and coastal habitats. At the same time, these approaches can protect coastal habitats, including blue forest, from land-based sources of pollution.

Ensuring the sustainability of our oceans requires working across national jurisdictions and the high seas. Since the GEF’s establishment in 1991, we have allocated a total of US$1.14 billion in project grants to transboundary, marine projects, which generated approximately US$7.7 billion from other funders. Read more+


Since its inception, the GEF’s investments in the International Waters focal area have surpassed US$1.15 billion. These funds have leveraged another US$7.7 billion from partners for marine-related projects and programs. This massive investment has led to the delivery of an impressive set of global marine environmental benefits, including the creation of 4.1 million km2 of marine protected areas.

Since 1994, the International Waters focal area has provided close to US$50 million in targeted finance towards more effective management approaches and strategies within the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) framework. PEMSA provides a solid foundation for regional cooperation, bringing together the different countries to establish interagency, multi-sectoral, and intergovernmental partnerships for sustainable development. In addition, with support from PEMSEA, Integrated Coastal Zone management (ICM) areas have now been designated across 12 percent of the region’s coastline. The goal is to reach 25 percent by 2021.