Nature-Positive Seascapes

Aerial view of Nosy Hara island and archipelago, Madagascar.

The oceans inspire and offer hope for nature and people worldwide. When the oceans thrive, the planet regains its natural strength and flourishes, people thrive, societies are prosperous, and the world is more peaceful.

Healthy oceans and marine species support the resiliency and productivity of coastal communities, feed billions of people, deliver hundreds of millions of jobs, and provide natural at-scale solutions for the safety and security of millions of individuals and communities vulnerable to the threat of climate change and natural disasters.

The WWF-US Oceans team is focused on building a thriving, healthy ocean and reaching nature-positive goals both through specific area-based conservation and by creating global enabling conditions for nature-positive outcomes.

To support place-based ocean ecosystems, WWF works to deliver nature-positive seascapes using a science-based selection and design approach. We establish and build management of conservation areas, ranging from establishing marine protected areas to other effective area-based conservation efforts that benefit Indigenous people and local communities, as well as global constituencies. We deploy nature-based solutions to achieve climate adaptation and resilience, and we make available climate-smart fisheries management solutions.

To achieve financial sustainability, we partner with WWF’s Earth for Life, Enduring Earth, and other groups, to support the design and delivery of marine Project Finance for Permanence initiatives. We will also work with public finance bodies, such as the Global Environment Facility and Global Conservation Fund, to continue to make the case for why investing in nature-positive seascapes contributes to global nature and climate goals.

Our approach

Achieving nature-positive seascapes requires interventions including science and technology, community support, integrated management systems, enforcement, laws, policies, and a revolution in how the private sector approaches the health of the oceans. We define a seascape as a large, geographically bound area that supports integrated management of marine resources to conserve ecosystems that benefit the planet, people, prosperity, and peace. Our seascapes include both protected areas—created primarily to achieve conservation outcomes—and other effective area-based conservation measures—which deliver conservation of biodiversity regardless of their primary management objectives. Species management is also a critical piece of area-based conservation. Within each seascape, we identify target species that include species on which people rely for food and income and species critical to ecosystem health.

The current momentum behind protecting 30 percent of the Earth’s land and oceans by 2030 presents an opportunity for seascapes to be an organizing principle for our area-based conservation portfolio. This place-based conservation work will help build nature-positive seascapes and create demonstration sites for global replication—by WWF and other organizations.

Our 2030 impact targets



Halt declines and recover and grow ecosystems and marine resources in the places where we work



Deliver resilient food and livelihood security for 100 million people



Protect billions in economic infrastructure through nature-based solutions



Reduce conflict, crime, and societal instability via effective marine natural resource management

Seascape design and management

We are developing a quantitative and qualitative approach to prioritizing and selecting seascapes based on our vision: benefits to the planet, people, prosperity, and peace. When we approach seascape opportunities, we carefully evaluate the rights and needs of Indigenous people and local communities to let them guide what conservation area approach is the most relevant. Our seascape work is intended to be locally led so that the people who live in these places are the owners and beneficiaries of the equitable conservation approaches we deploy. These can range from marine protected areas to other effective area-based conservation efforts such as locally managed marine areas to managed access and fish sanctuaries to Indigenous management systems.

We measure and monitor our progress by leveraging previously identified ecological and social baselines or creating our own with specific focus on our priority interventions. We take the long view, designing interventions to be financially sustainable, sufficiently managed, and climate smart. In the next five years, we will implement a seascapes approach which creates a model that benefits both local communities and healthy oceans globally.

Nature-based solutions

A villager on his way to spearfish. During high tide this area will be covered with seawater. Raviravi, Vanua Levu, Fiji

Nature-based solutions provide benefits to people and society while preserving biodiversity and the ability of the natural world to continue to provide resources. We focus our nature-based solutions on climate adaptation, food, and livelihoods.

Many approaches to healthier ecosystems and mitigating climate change risks come from nature. For example, when considering mangroves versus concrete sea walls as a solution to storm surges, we note mangroves have the added benefits of sequestering carbon, creating breeding and nursery areas for marine life, and more. We have identified eleven major nature-based ocean solutions and are initially prioritizing mangroves, fish, seaweed, and aquaculture to realize our oceans vision and goal. We will also continue to partner with the WWF-US Wildlife team to better understand the role specific marine species play in strengthening the effect of these solutions.

Catalytic and sustainable finance

Our Catalytic and Sustainable Finance program is focused on developing transition and blended finance to enable sustainability in our seascapes, and we are building out a robust Blue Finance portfolio. These efforts are aimed to dually support our work in seascapes and contribute to whole planet solutions.

We design, incubate, and seek to launch innovative blue finance mechanisms that not only provide the financing for transition but also incorporate the incentives for long-term behavior change and create revenue streams to support them. Our first project in this portfolio is the design phase of a Fishery Improvement Fund model that builds on the business case for financial participation in the cost of recovering fisheries by seafood market actors. We will also seek to design and catalyze one or two other comparative initiatives, with an initial emphasis on financing mangrove protection and restoration.

Through a partnership mindset, we co-create nature-positive seascape solutions that drive climate adaptation and resilience, food and livelihood security, peace and security, and healthy oceans outcomes in the Arctic, Latin America, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific.

WWF believes that when the planet regains its natural strength and flourishes, people thrive, societies prosper, and the world is more peaceful. The private sector and financial institutions have an important role to play in our planet’s future.