UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge 2020 (Grants up to $250,000 USD)

UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge 2020 (Grants up to $250,000 USD)

Deadline: March 5, 2020

Applications are open for the UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge 2020. The Ocean Innovation Challenge (OIC) is a unique new mechanism that has been designed to accelerate progress on SDG14 by the identifying, financing, advising and mentoring of truly innovative, entrepreneurial and creative approaches to ocean and coastal restoration and protection that sustains livelihoods and advances the ’blue economy’.

The Ocean Innovation Challenge is issuing a series of ‘Ocean Challenges’ or Requests for Proposals, each focused on a specific SDG14 target. The OIC seeks innovations that are transferable, replicable and scalable in order to achieve maximum catalytic impact.

Ocean Challenge #1

The first ‘Ocean Challenge’, launched on January 8, 2020, seeks innovative solutions to counter the scourge of ocean pollution. Nutrient pollution loads to the oceans have tripled since pre-industrial times, now approaching around 13 million metric tons (mt) per year, leading to exponential growth in eutrophication and the occurrence of hypoxic (low oxygen) areas, now numbering over 500 and causing hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damage annually. Globally, there are only a handful of examples (such as the Danube/Black Sea basin) where nutrient loads have been reduced sufficiently to reverse and eliminate hypoxic areas, hence much work remains to be done on this SDG target.

Of the over 300 million metric tons(mt) of plastics produced globally each year, some 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons reaches the ocean impacting negatively on marine organisms and ecosystems. Only about 9 percent of the over 2 billion mt of plastic produced to date has been recycled, so we remain a long way from truly ‘closing the loop’ on ocean plastics pollution. UNEP estimate the annual damage from marine plastics at USD $13 billion per year and growing. Rivers represent a major vector for the introduction of plastics to the ocean, transporting between 9 and 50 percent of the total.


  • Grants range from $50,000 USD to $250,000 USD and project time frames can range from one to two years.


Proposals can be submitted by

  • Governments
  • Private entities (including start-ups)
  • NGOs
  • CSOs
  • Academic institutions
  • United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations


The application process is in 3 stages:

  • Starting January 8, 2020, interested applicants should submit their preliminary proposal here no later than March 5, 2020. Early applications are encouraged.
  • In April 2020, successful applicants to the first round will be invited to submit a more detailed project proposal before April 25, 2020.
  • OIC Award-winners will be announced at the 2nd UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, June 2-6, 2020.

For more information, visit UNDP.