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A sustainable ocean economy needs entrepreneurs who are creating solutions.

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Decade of Action:

Now is the time to act!

In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 global goals, a global pact to create a better and sustainable future where nobody is left behind.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a first in human history—they encompass every aspect of human and planetary wellbeing, a universal call to action to end poverty, protect Earth and ensure all people live in peace and prosperity.

But they come with a deadline: 2030! Seven years on, we have made progress, but there is still work to be done, and achieving the goals is more important than ever.

Achieving the global goals:

Entrepreneurs are leading the way!

As 2030 approaches, there has been a call for accelerating sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

Entrepreneurs are often at the forefront of creating those solutions, and the global goals cannot be achieved without them.

Their relentless curiosity and problem-solving mindsets mean they can innovate and create solutions to drive change and address complexity.

The Ocean Innovation Challenge:

Building a sustainable ocean economy for all.

The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship SA and the UNDP Accelerator Labs SA launched the Ocean Innovation Challenge on 1 September 2022.

With a Focus on the fourteenth SDG, “Life Below Water”, -the challenge aims to build a sustainable Ocean Economy that promotes economic growth, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and the strengthening of ocean ecosystems.

Together they are on a hunt for entrepreneurs with solutions that can impact the Ocean Economy.

“The ocean plays a critical role in addressing climate change, poverty, and inequality, and developing a sustainable ocean economy will contribute to the achievement of multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). South Africa’s ocean is one of the most varied in the world, rich in biodiversity, and with untapped living and non-living resources that could contribute to economic growth and job creation, while also leading to greater sustainability and the protection of marine ecosystems. As a relatively undeveloped sector, innovators and entrepreneurs have an enormous opportunity to build this area of the economy, as well as an opportunity to create much positive social and environmental impact. As the UN Secretary General said on World Oceans Day, we need to revitalise our oceans and to achieve this “it means working together with nature, not against it”. says Simone Smit, Head of Exploration at UNDP Accelerator Labs.

Are you an entrepreneur with a solution to any of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, Life Below Water:

  • Reduce marine pollution

  • Protect and restore ecosystems.

  • Reduce ocean acidification.

  • Sustainable fishing.

  • Conserve coastal and marine areas.

  • End subsidies contributing to overfishing.

  • Increase the economic benefits from the sustainable use of marine resources.

  • Increase scientific knowledge, research, and technology for ocean health.

  • Support small-scale fisheries

  • Implement and enforce international sea law.

An Oceans Economy focuses on the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, job creation, and improved livelihoods, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.

All entrepreneurs and business whose core function align to these criteria will be eligible to apply.

“We have the opportunity, we know what the solutions are, we even have the technology. Let’s get to work to meet and exceed the target of the Sustainable Development Goal for the Ocean, for our planet and for all its people.” Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

Register for the Ocean Innovation Challenge via the Branson Centre website.

For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals, visit


About the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa

The Branson Centre exists to change business for good.

The team at Branson Centre believes that business can solve global challenges, and in their relentless pursuit of entrepreneurialism, they partner with business to build an inclusive economy that enables thriving people and a healthy planet.

About the UNDP Accelerator Lab South Africa

UNDP works in 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty while protecting the planet. We help countries develop strong policies, skills, partnerships and institutions so they can sustain their progress.

The UNDP Accelerator Labs are part of UNDP’s drive to be an incubator for the future. To accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda, we need to be fast and curious. The Accelerator Labs are designed to close the gap between the current practices of international development in an accelerated pace of change. They model a new capability to make breakthroughs on the future of development: equality, decarbonization, the 4th industrial revolution and new forms of governance.


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