World Ocean Summit 2021: Accelerating a sustainable ocean economy

Our World Ocean Summit Virtual Week concluded successfully last week. We welcomed more than 8,500 registered participants and more than 6,000 active users on our virtual platform during the week. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to tune in this week, or for those wanting to watch the session again, it is now available on-demand for two months. You can register here, or if you have already registered you can access the sessions on our virtual platform. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation about accelerating a sustainable ocean economy on our relaunched website at

The importance of ocean literacy

Throughout the summit the importance of ocean literacy was highlighted. In a guest blog for the World Ocean Initiative, Francesca Santoro, ocean literacy specialist at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, explains the importance of education and communications for a sustainable ocean economy.

Several sessions at the summit highlighted the need for engaging with local communities, notably those related to blue carbon projects. As the world marked World Wildlife Day on March 3rd, we dedicated several sessions at the summit to nature-based solutions to climate change. Coral reef ecosystems are one of the most severely impacted by climate change. Is there hope for coral reefs? Nature-based solutions are part of the answer, says Carol Phua, WWF’s Coral Reef Rescue Initiative manager and speaker at the World Ocean Summit.

The slowing of the Gulf Stream—one of the world’s major climate-regulating ocean currents—has provided a reminder of the crucial link between the ocean and climate change that was highlighted during the summit. As the story about the slowing Gulf Stream broke, I was interviewed by TRT World on the discussions at the summit and prospects for the blue economy.

Among its diverse sessions the summit also saw the launch of a new practical toolkit for financial institutions, providing recommendations for banks, insurers and investors on which client activities to seek out, challengeor avoid altogether. The blue guidance was launched during the summit by Eric Usher, head of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

The need for collaboration was a key theme through a lot of sessions, required within industries (often between competitors), across industries, between countries, and between public-private sectors. A major new collaboration was launched at the summit itself: an exciting new initiative of The Economist Group and The Nippon Foundation, Back to Blue. It’s a multi-year initiative on pollution and ocean health. It aligns well with the post-pandemic refocus on ocean sustainability, speaking to the need for engagement from consumers, businesses and governments to address ocean issues.

The next wave of innovators

There was also a lot of optimism created by bringing the ocean changemakers challenge winners together with their mentors. The challenge showcased innovative and investable solutions that are ready to be scaled up. The recording of the Meet the ocean changemakers session is below.

I also moderated sessions on topics such as sustainable aquaculture and blue biotech. Videos below.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to our future events (including World Ocean Summit Asia-Pacific) and on our relaunched website at

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