Diamonds multinational De Beers Group is investing $2-million in Kelp Blue, a startup focused on growing and managing large-scale giant kelp forests, initially off the Namibian coast.
These underwater forests have the potential to safely and permanently lock away vast amounts of carbon dioxide in the ocean.
Research has shown that kelp forests have carbon sequestration properties exceeding those of terrestrial forests and that they help sustain healthy marine ecosystems, providing food and shelter for countless species, the group points out.
In line with De Beers Group’s Building Forever sustainability goals, the investment supports a pioneering nature-based solution for sequestering carbon and enhancing biodiversity, while also delivering skills development and job creation in Namibia, where De Beers has recovered diamonds in joint venture partnership with the Namibian government for almost three decades.
In 2021, Kelp Blue was awarded a licence to cultivate giant kelp off the coast of Namibia, and is now conducting a pilot phase project.
The business is expected to contribute to infrastructure development in and around the town of Lüderitz and to benefit the local community by creating employment and upskilling opportunities in kelp cultivation and processing.
During the pilot phase, the business will generate a range of direct and indirect jobs in biotechnology, engineering, processing, support services and logistics in Namibia.
The initiative will also support De Beers in its goal of being carbon neutral across its operations by 2030.
While De Beers Group’s primary focus in achieving this goal will be on increasing efficiency and replacing fossil fuel and fossil-based energy from its operations with renewable alternatives, carbon credits resulting from the investment in Kelp Blue will support the company in removing any remaining emissions, alongside other nature-based initiatives.
“We are committed to being carbon neutral across our operations by 2030 and, to achieve this ambitious target, we will need to recover a share of our emissions after we have removed and replaced the majority of the fossil fuel energy in our business.
“Instead of simply buying carbon credits on the market, we are looking to identify potential long-term, sustainable and innovative nature-based solutions for this – particularly those that can deliver additional carbon capture benefit beyond our own business.
“While there is still work to be done to understand more about the scale of opportunity, Kelp Blue is an innovative startup with significant potential, and we are proud to invest in its future,” says De Beers Group strategy and innovation executive VP Neil Ventura.
“De Beers’ early investment in our offshore pilot – a world first in terms of scale and ambition – specifically helps us accelerate the quantification and verification of the carbon sequestration pathways, which is essential for the whole seaweed industry in terms of scientifically establishing the potential of this novel nature-based solution,” says Kelp Blue founder and CEO Daniel Hooft.