Abstract: Many global measures of economic success only account for the production of economic capital without accounting for environmental externalities, and the result is an unstable system where the desire to maximise short-term profits works against desires to preserve long-term natural and human capital. The financial liability for marine resource degradation is misplaced and taken up by governments and non-profits. On the flip side, profit motives can be redirected to create self-sustaining systems that produce ecological, socio-cultural, and economic outcomes through “impact investing.” While impact investments are being tested, a significant funding gap remains for marine conservation. Innovative finance mechanisms exist, but are relatively untested in the marine conservation context. Financial decisions are often made without stakeholder involvement, after participatory conservation plans are finished. This research will investigate if and how impact investing can achieve marine conservation outcomes, design and test participatory processes for selecting marine finance mechanisms, and critically analyze the implementation of one finance mechanism in detail – marine biodiversity offsets in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Biographies: Melissa Bos received a BS in Chemistry and Marine Science from the University of Miami, after which she began working as an environmental consultant. With a desire to focus on the science behind coral reef management, Melissa then went on to earn a MS in Oceanography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she investigated nutrient dynamics in coral reef ecosystems. As a NOAA coral reef management fellow placed within the State of Hawaii, Melissa facilitated stakeholder-driven Local Action Strategies to address key threats to coral reefs. Melissa then became the Hawaii and Pacific Island Coordinator of NOAA’s Alliance for Coastal Technologies where she facilitated partnerships between resource managers, researchers, and the technology industry. She has held faculty positions at both the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and Hawaii Pacific University. As Director of the Global Marine Partnership Fund at Conservation International, Melissa began to focus on innovative finance and participatory strategic planning for large-scale marine conservation initiatives. As Director of the Hawaii Marine Program at Conservation International, Melissa developed and funded the Hawaii Fish Trust, a ground-breaking program that unties fishers, Hawaiian communities, non-profits, and the State of Hawaii towards common goals. Melissa also has experience working at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in Social and Economic Sciences and Sustainable Funding.