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What is the OIC

The Ocean Innovation Challenge (OIC) is a unique new mechanism that has been designed to accelerate progress on SDG14 by identifying, financing, advising and mentoring truly innovative, entrepreneurial and creative approaches to ocean and coastal restoration and protection that sustains livelihoods and advances the 'blue economy'.

The OIC seeks innovations that are transferable, replicable and scalable in order to achieve maximum catalytic impact.

The goal of the OIC is to accelerate progress on SDG14 by catalysing replicable and scalable innovations - including technical, policy, economic and financial - that can be sustained and contribute directly to delivery of one or more SDG14 targets.

"Innovation" here can include both truly new approaches, or the transfer or adaptation of existing proven approaches to new contexts and/or locales.

What It Does

The OIC is issuing a series of 'Ocean Challenges' or Calls for Proposals, each focused on a specific SDG14 target. Initial concepts may be submitted by public or private entities, including governments, private companies (including start-ups), NGO/CSO, United Nations entities, academic institutions, and intergovernmental organizations.

Innovators can request from 40,000 USD to 250,000 USD for six months to two years of implementation. Project proposals must be implemented in and benefit stakeholders in developing countries but may be submitted by applicants in either developing or developed countries. Proposals should include a special focus on gender mainstreaming, livelihood creation, and poverty reduction. Call 1 ran from 6 Jan to 5 Mar 2020 and focused on SDG 14.1 Marine Pollution Reduction. Meet the first cohort of UNDP Ocean InnovatorsCall 2 ran from 9 Mar to 9 May 2021 and focused on SDG14 targets 14.4, 14.7 and 14.b Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture. Meet the second cohortCall 3 ran from 10 Feb to 29 Apr 2022 focused on SDG 14.2, 14.5 and 14.7 Coastal ecosystem and marine protected areas and the (non-fisheries) Blue Economy. Meet the third cohort. The selection process for the fourth cohort on SDG 14.7 Small Island Developing States and the Blue Economy is ongoing.

Why It Matters

The ocean faces unprecedented threats to the ecosystem goods and services it provides to humanity, from climate regulation to food security to coastal tourism. Despite some progress, many ocean challenges, from nutrient pollution to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing to ocean acidification, continue to worsen. 

For most sectors that use and impact on the ocean, from fisheries to aquaculture to industrial agriculture, the `business as usual` scenario will not deliver the kinds of transformational change needed to move towards truly sustainable ocean use. 

A combination of technical innovation and cutting-edge policy, financial and economic incentives are needed to transform ocean-related sectors, both sea-based and land-based. At present, while there are a handful of relevant initiatives, these are limited in their sectoral scope. Solutions are required that cut across the unique innovation needs of each SDG14 target, whether it be reduction of plastics pollution, eliminating overfishing, or enhancing access for small scale fishers. The OIC seeks to identify and provide support to scale-up these solutions. 

SDG 14, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, sets forth a very ambitious agenda for oceans restoration and protection. 

14.1 Reduce Marine Pollution
14.2 Protect and Restore Ecosystems
14.3 Reduce Ocean Acidification
14.4 Sustainable Fishing
14.5 Conserve Coastal and Marine Areas
14.6 End Subsidies Contributing to Overfishing
14.7 Increase the Economic Benefits from Sustainable Use of Marine Resources
14.A Increase Scientific Knowledge, Research and Technology for Ocean Health
14.B Support Small Scale Fishers
14.C Implement and Enforce International Sea Law

Get detailed information on each SDG 14 targets here