Leaders put a healthy ocean at the top of the global policy agenda to accelerate economic recovery
The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) today put forward a new ocean action agenda, paired with bold commitments and new research. The 14 world leaders of the Ocean Panel committed to sustainably manage 100% of the ocean area under national jurisdiction by 2025, guided by Sustainable Ocean Plans. The countries will bring a holistic approach to ocean management that balances protection, production and prosperity to nearly 30 million sq km of national waters – an area the size of Africa. The Ocean Panel also urged leaders of coastal and ocean states across the globe to join in committing to the 100% goal so that all Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) are sustainably managed by 2030.
The leaders of Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal and Ocean Panel co-chairs Norway and Palau today released the Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: A Vision for Protection, Production and Prosperity. These world leaders understand that the ocean is central to life on earth, peoples’ livelihoods and the economy, but also recognize that the ocean’s health is at risk from pressures such as pollution, overfishing and climate change. This is why, two years ago, Ocean Panel members set out to develop a transformative set of recommendations to deliver a sustainable ocean economy that would benefit people everywhere and effectively protect the ocean. The result is a new ocean action agenda that – if achieved – could help produce as much as 6 times more food from the ocean, generate 40 times more renewable energy, lift millions of people out of poverty, and contribute one-fifth of the GHG emissions reductions needed to stay within 1.5°C.
“Humanity’s well-being is deeply intertwined with the health of the ocean. It sustains us, stabilizes the climate and leads to greater prosperity,” said Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Ocean Panel Co-chair. “For too long, we have perceived a false choice between ocean protection and production. No longer. We understand the opportunities of action and the risks of inaction, and we know the solutions. Building a sustainable ocean economy is one of the greatest opportunities of our time. The members of the Ocean Panel are united in our commitment to sustainably managing 100% of our national waters by 2025.”
“At a time when we are already looking to recover from the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we understand how vulnerable we are to financial shocks and health crises,” said Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of Palau and Ocean Panel Co-chair. “We need the ocean more than ever to drive a sustainable, long-term recovery. The ocean is our past, our present and our future. We do not have to choose between ocean protection and production; we can have both for a healthy, prosperous and equitable tomorrow if we properly manage our impacts upon it. The Ocean Panel calls on every leader of ocean and coastal states to join us and turn our 100% goal into reality.”
A healthy ocean is essential for everyone. More than three billion people rely on food from the ocean each day. The ocean covers 70% of earth and helps transport at least 90% of goods. A healthy ocean contributes $1.5 trillion to the global economy annually and millions of jobs in fishing, tourism, transportation and other sectors. The ocean provides food, energy and medicine. It is the source of recreation, discovery, identity and culture for billions of people. The ocean also stabilizes the climate by absorbing about a quarter of CO2 emissions and producing half of the world’s oxygen. To protect this vital resource and unleash its benefits, the world must transition to a sustainable ocean economy.
Leading by example, the Ocean Panel countries each committed to put a Sustainable Ocean Plan in place by 2025. The Ocean Panel also supports a global target to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030, where each country’s contribution will depend on national circumstances. In addition to the 100% commitment, there are 74 priority actions detailed in the Transformations that achieved consensus from the 14 countries. The recommendations focus on five critical areas: ocean wealth, ocean health, ocean equity, ocean knowledge and ocean finance. Together, they point to where the world should be in the next decade, when the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development conclude. The Ocean Panel commits to deliver on these actions by 2030 or sooner.
The Ocean Panel’s bold yet pragmatic recommendations are underpinned by an unprecedented scientific knowledge base for action, including 20 commissioned reports and blue papers. The new report released today, Ocean Solutions that Benefit People, Nature and the Economy, seeks to define a new solutions-based relationship between humanity and the ocean. The report finds that achieving a sustainable ocean economy is possible and beneficial, but it will not happen if business as usual continues. The paper identifies five key pathways to achieve the transition.
“The ocean is neither too big to fail nor too big to fix, but it is too big and too central to our future to ignore. The ocean holds untapped potential to provide real solutions to urgent global problems from climate change and food security to biodiversity loss and inequality,” said Hon. Jane Lubchenco, PhD., Distinguished University Professor at Oregon State University and Co-chair of the Ocean Panel Expert Group. “The Ocean Panel’s commitments are exactly what is needed to begin to bring our relationship with the ocean into balance through effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity. We can use the ocean wisely, rather than using it up, but only if we get serious about doing so. The 14 countries on the Ocean Panel are listening to science, learning from each other and working together. That’s a powerful combination. If their historic commitments are implemented, the resulting successes will snowball into an avalanche of smart actions by other key players – enabling people, nature and the economy to thrive.”
As the world looks to recover from COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout, the ocean can bring economic relief and make communities stronger. Ocean Panel research shows that a healthier ocean is a smart investment: every $1 invested in sustainable ocean solutions can yield at least $5 in benefits, including social, health, economic and environmental benefits. Another Ocean Panel-commissioned paper finds that including the ocean economy in recovery and stimulus measures – especially with the pandemic’s devastating impacts on coastal workers and sectors – would have huge benefits. The research identifies immediate opportunities for blue stimulus that can create jobs, provide economic relief and push the economy towards resilience and sustainability.
“We need better management and sustainable use of the ocean’s resources to foster not only a green, but also a blue recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. “I commend all 14 Heads of State and Government on the Ocean Panel who have agreed that, by 2025, their countries will sustainably manage all the ocean area under their national jurisdictions, guided by Sustainable Ocean Plans.”
Efforts are already underway to accelerate, scale and finance the new ocean action agenda. This includes multi-stakeholder coalitions focused on ocean renewable energy, ocean accounting, shipping decarbonization, tourism and blue food. The Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition (OREAC), the first coalition to publicly launch, today published the Power of Our Ocean report to support governments across the world in scaling development of ocean-based renewable energy.
The Ocean Panel has worked with an Advisory Network comprised of more than 135 private sector, NGO and intergovernmental organizations across 35 countries to advance action through their own institutions and networks. The work of the Ocean Panel is also supported by a Secretariat based in the World Resources Institute, an Expert Group composed of over 70 leading scientists and experts from 26 countries, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean.
The Ocean Panel also launched the “Give It 100%” campaign to galvanize momentum around the 100% goal. Beginning December 3, Ocean Panel countries will host a series of national launch events to build global political will around their commitments. From Fiji to Mexico, countries will be sharing their country-specific plans, discussing priority actions and exploring what giving it 100% means for their countries, their people and the planet. Professor Lubchenco will also open the UNFCCC Ocean Climate Dialogues the same day. Follow the conversation on Twitter via @OceanPanel and #OceanAction100 and #SustainableOceanEconomy.
About the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy
The members of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) lead nations of highly diverse oceanic, economic and political perspectives. Driven by a commitment to partnership, shared knowledge and science-informed policy, the Ocean Panel aims to advance the values underpinning a sustainable ocean economy—effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia
“Australians have always had a deep connection to the ocean. It is an integral part of who we are: our culture, lives and livelihoods. Many of our important industries are ocean-based, including fishing, trade, tourism and recreation. Australia is investing in practical solutions to the challenges facing our oceans, to protect our precious marine and coastal ecosystems, such as the Great Barrier Reef.
“The ocean connects us with our Pacific family. That’s why we are working closely with our Indo-Pacific neighbours to ensure a healthy and productive ocean through reducing waste plastic pollution, combating illegal fishing and protecting our coral reefs and mangroves. When I speak to children in schools in Australia, pollution destroying our oceans is what they talk to me about. Along with the Ocean Panel Leaders, we are committing to sustainably manage 100% of our ocean areas by 2025 and we encourage other world leaders to join us.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada
“From the Atlantic, to the Pacific, to the Arctic, oceans are at the heart of many Canadian communities. Having the world’s longest coastline, Canada recognizes that our economy and our well-being are deeply connected with the health of our oceans, and that we have a responsibility to protect them. That is why we are committed to working with our international Ocean Panel leaders, and to developing a comprehensive blue economy strategy. We are also calling on more world leaders and other partners to join us in turning our goals into reality. Together, we can restore the health of our oceans in a sustainable way, build stronger and more resilient blue economies, and create a healthier, cleaner, and prosperous future for current and future generations.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana
“The value of key ocean assets globally is estimated at US$24 trillion. Yet, human activities continue to pose a great threat to the ocean and our own very existence. The sustainability of the ocean and its resources depends on the actions we take today. With a coastline of about 550km, Ghana is well-positioned to benefit from the world’s ocean resources if sustainably managed. This requires a holistic approach to managing coastal and marine resources to meet present demands without compromising future development needs. Ghana is therefore committed to developing a Sustainable Ocean Plan to sustainably manage 100% of our national waters by 2025 and we urge all coastal states to commit to doing the same by the year 2030.”
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
“Jamaica has an inextricable connection to the ocean. Jamaica’s coastline is approximately 1022 km and includes an array of ecosystems including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests
and swamp lands. These systems protect the coastline (including beaches) and importantly, provide habitat for several species of fish and other marine life. The richness of our ocean capital must be managed sustainably, to ensure productivity and diversification is achieved for the benefit of the people and communities whose livelihoods depend on it, and also for the benefit of a healthy planet. Jamaica is committed to do its part on sustainable ocean management to achieve the 100% goal.”
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan
“Our future is inherently tied to our ocean. Surrounded by oceans on all sides, Japan has jurisdiction over one of the largest ocean areas in the world, corresponding to approximately twelve times the country’s total land area. Japan is committed to sustainably manage 100% of our national waters, so that our future generations can benefit from our abundant ocean resources. As a token of our mission to tackle the issue of marine plastic litter, we seek to globally promote measures that follow the ‘Osaka Blue Ocean Vision’, which aims to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050. Our Basic Plan for Ocean Policy, equivalent to the Sustainable Ocean Plan, serves as an indispensable compass for our navigation towards a sustainable ocean economy. We look forward to building a Sustainable Ocean Economy together through deploying measures like the Sustainable Ocean Plan.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya
“Our institutions are pivoting towards the ocean – to feed our people, create jobs and build a range of enterprises. We are providing innovative opportunities for the youth, women, and men, from small scale seaweed farming to sustainable tourism. We recognize that we need to harness ocean resources responsibly and are committed to sustainably manage 100% of the ocean area under national jurisdiction. Guided by the African Union Blue Economy Strategy we will walk hand in hand with other African countries to ensure that the ocean becomes a significant contributor to continental transformation for generations to come.”
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico
“For our country, a sustainable ocean economy is necessary to achieve a superior goal: the general well-being of the population. To promote this objective means, above all, to prioritize local communities, making sure that the ocean continues to be a source of well-being for all men and women. The ocean must be a central part of Mexico’s transformation, where protection, production and prosperity go hand in hand. The protection of the ocean and its sustainable use is not just a necessary condition to guarantee world economic prosperity, but also a moral imperative to make sure we leave no one behind and we leave no one out.”
President Hage G. Geingob, Namibia
“The threat that climate change poses to the ocean is a common challenge that requires collective action. In this regard, Namibia is committed to sustainable ocean management through an integrated approach that reduces the carbon footprint and the impact of ocean industries. Furthermore, Namibia commits to protect marine and coastal habitats, while ensuring equitable distribution of ocean resources. As sources of food and employment, our marine and coastal ecosystems are an integral part of our economic and developmental agenda. Therefore, we hold hands with the global community in charting a pathway towards a low carbon, climate resilient future that secures a healthy ocean and human wellbeing.”
Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway
“Norway takes a 100% approach in sustainably managing our ocean areas and is joining the first group of countries to develop a Sustainable Ocean Plan by 2025. In doing so, the Norwegian Government will present an integrated ocean management plan as a new white paper to the Norwegian Parliament every four years covering our entire ocean area. The next plan will be due in 2024. We are prepared to cooperate with fellow members of the Ocean Panel and other countries in supporting the 100% approach and achieving protection, production and prosperity.”
President Tommy Remengesau, Jr., Palau
“A Sustainable Ocean Plan will set our framework for our future as we build on the Palau National Marine Sanctuary’s initial implementation and begin to develop a domestic artisanal fishing sector. It will identify our needs and opportunities and guide the development of our partnerships to support our sustainable development. Getting the right balance between protection and production will not happen by accident – it is something that we need to actively plan for, and to live up to our ocean traditions and heritage.”
Prime Minister António Costa, Portugal
“When the world faces a climate, health and economic crisis, Portugal is committed to a blue economic recovery and to sustainably manage 100% of our ocean, linking health, wealth and social justice.”
Author: Cold Reality
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