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 50,000 USD to 250,000 USD ranging from one to two years time frame. 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. Concepts passing initial review and meeting OIC criteria will be invited to submit full proposals for further internal and external ("peer") review and consideration.
Call 1, which focused on SDG 14.1 Marine Pollution Reduction, ran from 6 January until 5 March 2020. Meet the first cohort of UNDP Ocean Innovators. Call 2, focusing on SDG14 targets 14.4, 14.7 and 14.b - Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture ran from 9 March until 9 May 2021. Meet the second cohort. Call 3 on coastal and marine protected areas and the (non-fisheries) Blue Economy was launched on 10 February 2022 and closed on 29 April. The selection process is currently 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.