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.”
To coincide with the Ocean Panel commitments, Nature and the Nature journals will release a special collection of commentaries and peer-reviewed articles on securing the future of the ocean (note: Nature’s embargo time for this content is the same, December 2 at 00:01 EST / 05:01 GMT).
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.
Today, 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.