7 Jun 2017 - This week in New York City, the United Nations brought together global decision makers and experts for The Ocean Conference, the first UN conference on protecting the health of the world’s oceans and seas. UN nations, NGOs, and private-sector organizations pledged their support to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
With this important mission in mind, The ICCF Group convened high-level policy makers, dignitaries, conservation leaders, and leaders from the business and NGO communities at a reception in New York City to celebrate leadership in ocean conservation and sustainable development and to highlight the need for public-private ocean conservation partnerships. The event was held in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Ocean Council, and Kelley Drye LLC and featured conservation efforts led by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, the Global Environment Facility, and Vulcan, Inc.
Joel Manby, President and CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, emphasized the need for a collaborative approach, stating: “The issues that we all face, in the ocean, are very dire. We have to have public-private partnerships. These issues are way too big for any one country, any one organization. We have to work together, or we will not solve this problem.”
UNDP’s Nik Sekhran concurred, saying: “We’re not going to do this without the private sector, we’re not going to do it unless we make the agenda profitable for the private sector.”
His Excellency Tomas Anker Christensen, Chef de Cabinet to the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, spoke to business leaders in attendance, stating: “About 1,000 voluntary commitments have been made [at the UN Ocean Conference], mostly by governments, only about 50 from the private sector. You could, out of these 1,000 commitments, create partnerships and coalitions that create business opportunities and create alliances that also allow for scale of investment. That opportunity is out there to grab, and those who do will have a great economic adventure of it.” He went on to say: “It’s a pretty dire situation, but…the good part of the story is it’s all human created, and problems caused by humans can also be solved by humans, and that’s where the business case is.”
Africa's Largest Network of Marine Protected Areas
The reception also recognized Gabon’s announcement of the creation of Africa’s largest network of marine protected areas, 20 marine parks and aquatic reserves that will protect 26 percent of Gabon’s territorial seas and extend across 20,500 square miles (53,000 square kilometers).
Attendees also included Dr. Naoko Ishii, Chairperson and CEO of the Global Environment Facility; Paul Holthus, President and CEO of the World Ocean Council; Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity; Stefaan Depypere, Director General, European Union Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment; Dame Meg Taylor, Pacific Oceans Commissioner and Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum; and many other corporate and NGO leaders.
The ICCF Group would like to thank additional partners, including Bumble Bee Seafoods, Mars, and Pelagic Data Systems, and all who participated in this important conversation. We look forward to building on this momentum to encourage more commitments and action to protect and preserve the health of the world’s oceans.