Actionable science to rebuild ocean abundance

The Institute for Abundant Oceans (IAO) uses the best actionable science to develop, guide and measure the progress of ocean restoration projects around the planet.

Under the direction of Carlos Duarte, one of the world’s leading marine ecologists, the IAO is building an independent network of scientists to amplify the efforts of NGOs, businesses and impact investors, always with the goal of maximizing for abundant outcomes.

An abundant ocean is our biggest climate ally

Despite the loss of half of all marine life, we believe an abundant ocean can be rebuilt in a single human generation, with benefits that extend to people and the planet. These actions can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.

We are not only living through a climate crisis, but a biodiversity crisis. The pressures of global warming, pollution, habitat loss and overfishing have cut deeply into the ecosystems and carbon cycles upon which marine life and billions of humans depend. 

But all over the world, communities are restoring blue ecosystems, livelihoods are being rebuilt and species are coming back from the brink. 

We have a vision for how marine life can be rebuilt, founded on the key principles outlined in Prof. Carlos Duarte’s landmark study Rebuilding Marine Life (Nature).  

To support this vision, the IAO conducts research on blue natural capital systems and advises on their successful restoration.

Foundation-owned and operated, the IAO is able to engage with capital and form business relationships while emphasizing local stakeholder benefits and equitable distribution of gains.

We advance ocean
abundance in several ways

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Regeneration Science

Pressures from climate change and new pockets of capital are making restoration projects more prevalent, while raising the stakes for successful outcomes.

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Blue Cities

Urban populations are set to grow by 2.5 billion residents by 2050, with blue cities on the front lines of rising sea levels, extreme heat and weather. 

What we do:

Empower cities to become a connected global force for climate adaptation by restoring waterfronts at scale.Accelerate impact in this sector through corporate partnerships like our Blue Action Program with E1 Series.

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Blue Natural Capital

Blue Carbon Ecosystems are emerging as a high potential asset class due to its durable carbon sequestration and social, biodiversity, climate adaptation and local economic benefits.

What we do:

Create investable opportunities to unleash the power of the market towards an abundant future through rebuilding natural capital.

Support stewards of blue natural capital and investors looking to achieve carbon neutrality by restoring blue ecosystems 

Investing in abundance

Climate scientists have long viewed the regeneration of our planet’s natural ecosystems as essential to mitigating the climate crisis and rebuilding marine life. However, only recently has marine science exposed evidence of “blue carbon,” the exceptional carbon sequestration and biodiversity capability of mangroves, salt marshes, sea grasses and macroalgae. 

Coupled with a rise in perceived urgency from the global community, newly stimulated carbon financial markets, and a fast-moving wave of corporate commitments, restoration efforts today have wind at their backs.

Blue natural capital offers rich climate adaptation and socio-ecological benefits in addition to removing excess carbon from the atmosphere and - if protected against future disturbance - storing it permanently in the soil.

A dollar invested in these ecosystems returns many multiples in ecosystem value.

The IAO directs investments into viable blue natural capital projects across ecosystems.

IAO is guided by these defining principles

Beyond Conservation,
to Restoration
Rather than seek to conserve existing ecosystems, we aim to rebuild and restore marine life to its historical abundance.
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The ability of natural ecosystems to sequester carbon is just one of many benefits, each of which we hope to cultivate, value and make investable.
We use technology to build confidence in the additionality, permanence, traceability and durability of our projects.
Open Access Collaboration
We build powerful networks across philanthropic, NGO, government, community and private sectors to accelerate their ocean climate impact.
Youth empowerment
We design our approaches to empower the next generation to be effective stewards of their local blue natural capital and drive their futures.
Community Resilience 
All efforts are led with community involvement from the start, generating near term and long lasting benefits for the community.

Globally recognized scientific leaders

Chief Scientist of the Institute of Abundant Oceans, Dr. Carlos M. Duarte (Ph.D. McGill University, 1987) has published more than 900 scientific papers and been ranked the world’s top marine biologist and 12th most influential climate scientist by Thomson Reuters.

Together with various UN agencies, Dr. Duarte developed the concept of Blue Carbon, which builds on his research showing mangroves, seagrasses and salt-marshes to be globally-relevant carbon sinks. Focused on developing nature-based solutions to climate change and evidence-based strategies for restoring abundance to the oceans by 2050, he conducts research across all continents and most marine ecosystem types. 

Distinguished Professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Dr. Duarte serves as interim Executive Director of the Global Coral R&D Accelerator Platform and holds adjunct positions at the University of Western Australia and the Arctic Research Center of Aarhus University, Denmark.


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Prof. Carlos M. Duarte
Chief Scientist
Oceans 2050
Irene Polnyi
Executive Director
Institute for Abundant Oceans
Fritz Neumeyer
Oceans 2050
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Alexandra Cousteau
Oceans 2050


How does project financing work?

We work with a network of sustainable blue natural capital investors to align corporate and impact investors to premium blue carbon projects. Depending on the project, an investor may finance restoration efforts in exchange for carbon credits to retire against their net zero strategy, or seek equity in projects for a financial return.

How can I partner with the Institute?

The Institute is happy to discuss values-aligned partnerships with research institutions, governing bodies, funders, technology providers and climate-leading corporations. We are developing a line of offerings as follows: 

Chair sponsorships: Significant supporters of the Institute’s research and project advisory efforts may be recognized for their contributions with a scientific chair under their name. 

Blue Carbon Project Design & Development: We advise on the mapping of blue carbon potential and project design for stewards of blue natural capital in exchange for the opportunity to invest in the project through our financing partners.

Blue Action Program: We source, evaluate and measure progress against urban natural ecosystem restoration projects with climate mitigation and adaptation potential.

What are your scientific research priorities?

Our research thesis is built on the abundance framework developed by Carlos Duarte in Rebuilding Marine Life. Our research priority is to develop best practice restoration, affordable and credible MRV methodologies and climate and social co-benefit measurement for blue natural capital. Our secondary targets are sustainable blue foods and seaweeds, coral reefs and quantifying climate impacts of large marine animal conservations. As well, we intend to support next generation and emerging sector enablers such as new tools, mechanisms and intelligence concepts to accelerate regeneration across new frontiers.

Who is behind the Institute for Abundant Oceans?

The IAO is run by passionate experts under the scientific leadership of Carlos Duarte and operational leadership of Irene Polnyi. Governance for the Institute is run by the Oceans 2050 Foundation leadership and board.

Oceans 2050, a non-profit dedicated to the rebuilding of ocean abundance by 2050, is the founder and owner of the IAO. While Oceans 2050 has a broad advocacy and public engagement mandate under the leadership of Alexandra Cousteau and Fritz Neumeyer, the IAO is a more focused scientific, research and restoration organization. The IAO is accountable to the Oceans 2050 board of directors.

Earthrise Media, a non-profit digital agency for the environment, is critical to the IAO’s mission. Led by data scientist Dan Hammer, a senior technology adviser to the Obama White House and the inaugural Pritzker Environmental Genius Award winner, Earthrise is our digital strategy partner. Earthrise leads IAO’s efforts across remote sensing & ecosystem monitoring, metrics & analytics and interactive digital platforms.  Dan Hammer serves as Digital Director of the IAO.

Goodcarbon Capital is the blue carbon financing partner for the IAO, connecting viable blue natural capital projects to sustainable financing from international climate-leading corporations and family offices. GCC is a part of the Good Impact Group, founded by David Diallo, a trusted friend and advisor to Oceans 2050 Foundation from the beginning.

Is the IAO a nonprofit entity?

The Institute is a for-profit entity that allows us to make commercial engagements with clients, funds and other partners. It is wholly-owned by a nonprofit foundation, Oceans 2050 Foundation, with grant support from the Goodcarbon Foundation.

“Rebuilding marine life represents a doable grand challenge for humanity, an ethical obligation and a smart economic objective to achieve a sustainable future.” 

- Carlos Duarte