Understanding and appreciating the essential role of oceans in human well-being and survival — life-giving food provision, livelihoods, opportunities for tourism and recreation and other services — are important. But in the age of overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and the mounting threat of climate change, knowledge alone is not enough. We also need to take immediate action to reverse the decline in ocean health.
Over the past year and a half, CI has worked with the World Bank and almost a hundred other partners to develop the Global Partnership for Oceans in order to stimulate global action on one of the most critical issues of our time: ocean conservation. Yesterday at Rio+20, the Partnership reached another milestone when more than 80 participants — countries, civil society groups, corporations and international organizations — signed on to its agenda of action.
The Partnership will focus on reversing ocean decline by promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; protecting coastal and marine habitats like mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs so they can generate benefits and economic opportunities to people in need; and controlling pollution so ocean ecosystems and people can prosper from clean waters.
CI brings technical expertise and experience from our field programs across the globe, where we have demonstrated how marine protected areas, seascapes and climate change adaptation can help make ocean ecosystems more resilient and thus continue to provide benefits to people through sustainable economic activities. Also, as a trusted adviser to governments and communities around the world, CI has advocated strongly for bringing their voices and concerns to the Partnership and to help define the global agenda for action.
Back in February, I traveled with our CEO Peter Seligmann to the World Oceans Summit in Singapore, where we helped arrange a work meeting between President Tong of Kiribati and Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank. The leadership of great ocean states like Kiribati has generated momentum for bold action and rapid results. During the meeting in Singapore, it became clear to all of us that the Pacific Oceanscape — an initiative spearheaded by President Tong — offers an immediate opportunity for investments to restore ocean health and generate economic returns to Pacific Island countries. (Get a glimpse of Tong’s view of the ocean in the clip below.)
Tong also spoke at yesterday’s side event in Rio, along with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and other representatives of the World Bank and other partner institutions — all voicing their support for this important initiative. CI’s Peter Seligmann, Jennifer Morris and Jonas Rupp also participated in the event.
For one of the Partnership’s first projects, CI is working with colleagues at the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility to identify opportunities where funding can make high-seas fisheries more sustainable and simultaneously protect ocean biodiversity. This project’s results will guide future investments in improved ocean management, throughout the Pacific and beyond.
On this final day of Rio+20, we have the chance to accelerate action on oceans and to catalyze greater investments in ocean management. In order to speed up and expand the impact of the Partnership, we need greater commitments from countries and institutions with the capacity to provide significant financial investments.
I hope to see more donor countries step up at Rio+20 and provide the global leadership we need to secure the future of our oceans through collective action involving countries, businesses, communities, academics and non-governmental organizations. Together we can — and must — be better stewards of the world’s largest resource.
Sebastian Troeng is the vice president of CI’s Global Marine division.