Safeguarding and harnessing the ocean’s ability to provide for people and the planet is crucial for sustainable development. The year 2020 could be the year in which the world starts to realise that its prosperity depends on building a new—truly blue—ocean agenda.
Weary delegates to last week’s COP25 climate talks have arrived back home to digest the outcome for ocean sustainability and the blue economy. The conference discussed in some depth how the ocean can help to address climate change.
November 21st marks World Fisheries Day. Total world fish production is expected to reach 201m tonnes by 2030—a growth of 18% from 2016. Yet one third of global fish stocks are being exploited at unsustainable levels, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Carbon emissions from shipping account for almost 3% of global emissions, a larger percentage than Germany. When the International Maritime Organisation met in London in November I was interviewed by BBC News on the need for the decarbonisation of the shipping sector.
In October I attended the annual Our Ocean conference in Oslo. The conference was established in 2014. Eye-catching commitments from governments, businesses and civil-society organisations are a hallmark of the conference. But the transformation towards a truly “blue” economy requires more fundamental changes.
The effects of climate change are already being profoundly felt in the ocean, a reality that policymakers collectively acknowledged when they signed up to develop a treaty on marine biodiversity. Climate and resilience will be hotly debated topics at the World Ocean Summit in Japan in March next year.
Dutch scientists from The Ocean Cleanup project have successfully collected plastic from the high seas for the first time. I was interviewed by TRT World on how to deal with the systemic problem of plastic pollution in the ocean.
The IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate highlights risks and opportunities for the blue economy. I was interviewed by TRT World on the implications of the climate crisis for the ocean economy and coastal communities.
On September 5th I attended the inaugural EU-China Blue Partnership Forum for the Oceans. The meeting discussed the joint need to tackle blue-economy challenges such as illegal fishing, enhancing marine protected areas, protecting the high seas and promoting sustainable financing.
In August I presented recent progress on sustainability-related projects at the Green Economics Institute 14th Annual Conference at Said Business School, University of Oxford. The conference was attended by leading academics in areas such as environmental economics, finance and sustainable development.