Ocean Action Hub

15 Oct 2018 - WEF - Kristian Teleki, Head of the Friends of Ocean Action, Director - Sustainable Ocean Initiative, World Resources Institute

This article is adapted from a keynote speech to G7 Ocean and Environment Ministers in Halifax, Canada, on 20 September 2018.

Fighting for the ocean is one of the greatest and defining challenges of our age.



Our relationship with the ocean is at a crossroads. Humanity has a clear choice: business as usual, with continuing ocean decline that will harm every area of human development and wellbeing; or deep-seated change in our behaviour, priorities and investments in order to balance ocean protection with our socio-economic goals.

It really is a case of sink or swim.

There are three main reasons why we are at a turning point - and there are three highly-achievable steps that can set us on a course for securing a healthy, productive ocean that supports wealthy, sustainable economies.

The time is right for change, first of all, because human exploitation of the ocean is causing immense, and in some cases irreversible, damage. A third of fish stocks are unsustainably harvested, we are choking our seas with plastic and agricultural run-off, and our carbon emissions are causing unprecedented warming and acidification. The situation is critical.

The oceans provide us with so much more than food

Secondly, thanks to incredible progress in science and technology, we now know what damage we are doing, and, increasingly, understand the extent to which we rely on the ocean – not only for food, transport and recreation, but as the world’s greatest carbon sink, sheltering us from the impacts of climate change by absorbing 30% of our carbon and 90% of the heat we produce.

Ignorance, or the claim of more pressing priorities, have ceased to be an excuse.

Thirdly, there has been an explosion of interest in the ocean, by governments, by business and among the general public. Just five years ago, when the recommendations of the Global Ocean Commission were launched, one of its goals was to have a Sustainable Development Goal for the ocean. Now it seems impossible this was ever in question. We have a UN Envoy for the Ocean, UN Ocean conferences, and top billing at major gatherings like the G7.

We also have the Friends of Ocean Action brought together by the World Economic Forum, the Special Envoy for the Ocean and the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden to fast track solutions in support of SDG14; and then the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which brings together 12 heads of government who are committed to developing, catalysing and supporting solutions for Oocean health and wealth in policy, governance, technology and finance.

And it is the G7 and these other bodies that can make the difference - who can help turn this trifecta of opportunity into a new age of ocean action.

The ocean is open for business as never before – but we need leaders and governments to take bold decisions that lead to ocean health and wealth.

We must seize the chance to build a sustainable blue economy and develop innovative blue solutions to the world’s great challenges: climate change, food security, renewable energy and regional security.

So, how do we get there?

There are three immediate and achievable steps that will set us on the right course. First, advancing and applying marine science and sharing it with less-developed states; second, putting an end to illegal fishing; and third, extending protection to vulnerable, pivotal ocean areas.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/we-can-save-our-ocean-in-three-steps-if-we-act-now/

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Publication date: 
15/10/2018
Publication Organisation: 
World Economic Forum
Publication Author: 
Kristian Teleki, Head of the Friends of Ocean Action, Director - Sustainable Ocean Initiative, World Resources Institute (WRI)
Thematic Area: 
Marine Protected Areas
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