Our Ocean Conference Reels In 370 Ocean Stewardship Commitments Worth $63B

The Prime Minister of Norway addresses the Our Ocean Conference      Photo: Government of Norway

The Our Ocean Conference concluded in Norway with 370 separate pledges for action to conserve the ocean made by governments, NGOs and private corporations, with a value of $63 billion, ABC News reportedCommitments were tallied under six categories: Marine Protected Areas, Climate Change, Marine Pollution, Maritime Security, Sustainable Fisheries, and Sustainable Blue Economy — with climate change commitments getting the lion share of the funding at $51 billion, and the private sector providing nearly 80% of the funds.  Concurrently, a Youth Leadership Summit convened 100 young ocean activists from around the globe for a “boot camp” on ocean conservation innovative ideas.

Why This Matters:  The Our Ocean conference is a different type of global meeting — not based on a legal framework or executive agreement, and not limited to governments as full participants — which seems to be one of the keys to its success. The attendees do a lot of talking for sure — but the conversations are tightly focused around concrete pledges of action or funding or tools — or all of the above, and all of them must fit in one of the six the categories listed above that were identified at the first conference five years ago.  The conference was Former Secretary John Kerry’s brainchild (see his interview this week), and reflect his willingness to adopt an unconventional approach to international collaboration to achieve the results that are needed for our ocean. The Conference also benefits from the exuberance of the youth meeting held in parallel.  It seems to be working — Palau has signed on to host the next year’s conference and Panama will host the year after that.

370 Commitments – Some Superb Examples

  • Marine Protected Areas:  The New England Aquarium announced a $1m partnership with Draper to develop technology to detect large marine life such as whales in areas of the world that are difficult to survey using traditional techniques. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, located more than 200 miles east of Cape Cod, is a prime candidate to benefit from this technology. Currently, the Aquarium flies highly productive aerial surveys that reveal an amazing abundance and diversity of whale species there but is significantly limited by distance and cost.
  • Climate Change: The Stimson Center has developed a new tool called the “Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index” that coastal cities can use to identify the financial, political and ecological risks they face from climate change and help them to target their investments in resilience and mitigation from sea level rise and other climate impacts where they will make the most difference.
  • Ocean SecurityBloomberg and Global Fishing Watch (GFW) announced a partnership through which GFW data on global fishing, marine ecosystems, and natural disasters will be shared with Bloomberg Terminal subscribers so that investors can drive capital toward responsible actors and away from companies that support illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing and other criminal activities.
  • Fisheries: The governments of Chile; Costa Rica; Japan; Korea; Mexico; New Zealand; Panama; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; the United States; and Uruguay announced their pledge to not provide subsidies to fishing vessels or operators determined to be engaged in IUU fishing by (1) the flag state or subsidizing state, (2) a relevant international fishing organization or (3) a coastal state for activities in waters under its jurisdiction.

This coverage of the Our Ocean Conference was made possible by the support of Ocean Conservancy.  

The emphasis at the Conference is on commitments.     Photo: Government of Norway

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