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In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry launched the first Our Ocean Conference (OOC) with the goal of making safeguarding the health of the ocean a foreign policy imperative — lifting the issue up to get the attention of world leaders just as had happened for climate change in the 1990s. He invited foreign ministers and heads of state from around the globe to Washington, D.C. and encouraged them to make tangible commitments to improve ocean conservation. Since then the annual meetings have generated over 1,000 commitments valued at nearly $30 billion USD from governments, the private sector, philanthropies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia, and governments have set aside over 26 million square kilometers of the ocean designated for protection.
Why This Matters: At the time when Kerry first surfaced the idea of the Our Ocean Conference he was up to his eyeballs in negotiating the Iranian nuclear deal, and yet ocean conservation was so important to him that he made time to launch this meeting. And now five years later the Conference has set the standard for informal international cooperation and how to galvanize a “race to the top” among ocean nations. Without a treaty or agreement or even a convening body, this group of nations keeps coming back and giving more. Our Ocean is instrumental in conserving our oceans and all the people who depend on them.
Accomplishments So Far
Each year the committee of organizers of the event tallies up whether prior years’ commitments have been achieved or are still in progress.
352 commitments have been reported as 100% complete and 666 have reported some form of
To date, nearly 70 countries have made Our Ocean commitments.
Our Ocean 2019 is being held at a pivotal moment when the number of threats facing the ocean and the need for action has been making news. The recent IPCC report on oceans and cryosphere painted a stark picture of ocean decline making this conference even more important than ever before since we now know the magnitude of the problems we face.
To Go Deeper: You can live stream the Conference in Norway (6 hours ahead of ET) by clicking here. See the commitments list here. And follow it on Twitter using the hashtags #OurOcean and #OneOceanOnePlanet.
This coverage of the Our Ocean Conference was made possible by the support of Ocean Conservancy.
We know that rising ocean temperatures are causing fish stocks to migrate to cooler waters, and now we have new evidence as to why. A study by German scientists found that juvenile fish and fish that are ready to mate are especially sensitive to changes in water temperature, and as a result, up to 60 percent of all species may be forced to leave their traditional spawning areas as waters warm.
Why This Matters: Fish populations need functional habitat to survive and procreate.
By Jean Flemma and Miriam Goldstein Historically, the ocean has been overlooked in the climate debate. That makes no sense. Ignoring the 71 percent of the planet that creates more than half the oxygen we breathe and has absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat created by climate change can hardly lead to a complete […]
Why This Matters: If the waters off Virginia are suitable for wind farms, with their close proximity to ports, naval facilities, and tourism, then it is hard to imagine why wind power can’t be developed in many other areas along the U.S. coast.
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