This first amount of funding from the UK’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund will be used for five programmes aimed to tackle climate change, enable marine recovery, and reduce poverty in developing countries.

The ocean plays a vital role as a carbon sink by absorbing a third of global CO2 emissions every year.

Coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems in the world by supporting 25% of marine life and providing benefits to thousands of species. However, climate change and pollution have made coral reefs vulnerable.

These programmes will increase marine protection, reduce plastic pollution, tackle the decline of coral reefs around the world, and use the UK’s expertise and knowledge to help respond to marine pollution disasters.

As COP26 climate talks are impending, the government is focused on working with developing countries to take action to protect and restore our oceans.

One new UK-led programme receiving funding, the Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCPP), aims to help developing countries partner with leading UK scientists to enhance protection of marine areas and improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change on our ocean.

Additionally, some of the funding will be focused on the expansion of the Global Plastic Action Partnership’s (GPAP) work in developing countries to reduce plastic waste. For example, GPAP has obtained Indonesia’s commitment to reduce 70% of the country’s mismanaged waste by 2025.

The UK also has a new global ‘30by30’ target to protect 30% of land and 30% of the ocean by 2030, which will be supported by the Blue Planet Fund.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “The UK is a global leader in marine protection and will continue to advocate for ambitious climate and ocean action at COP26 this year. Our shared ocean is a vital resource and provides habitat to precious marine life, as well as supporting the livelihoods of one in every ten people worldwide.”

“The Blue Planet Fund will support many developing countries on the front line of climate change to reduce poverty and improve the health of their seas.”