Global Agenda Council on Oceans 2012-2013
Oceans represent a key asset of the global economy. Cumulatively, such services provided by the oceans as the provision of food, oxygen, water and climate regulation have been valued at over US$ 21 trillion, while maritime transport supports 90% of global trade volume. The fisheries sector alone creates jobs for an estimated 180 million people and provides a primary source of protein to more than 1 billion.
However, the importance of oceans to our economic, social and environmental well-being remains under-appreciated, with nearly 95% of the marine world still barely explored. More urgently, marine ecosystems are facing unprecedented perils that can reduce current productivity and seriously threaten the oceanic future. Climate change, acidification, pollution, over-fishing and the degradation of coastal zones are only some of the issues that must be confronted if the value of the oceans is to be maintained.
The need, and opportunity, for innovative public and private investment in ocean conservation and the responsible husbandry of marine resources is pressing. A landmark study, brought forward by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, documented at least US$ 50 billion in lost benefits that could be realized annually from better organization and management of marine fishing. Aquaculture, which has provided nearly all of the growth in global fish production in recent decades, will continue to expand to provide a critical source of future food security, if it can avoid driving a massive crisis of coastal and marine degradation. Coastal tourism is also rapidly growing, but while it provides new potential livelihoods in some of the world’s most disadvantaged places, it also presents the potential for destroying the natural beauty sought by tourists. Additionally, a new frontier of mineral and energy extraction must be approached with appropriate international regulation and sustainable commercial practices.
- The total direct, indirect and induced global economic effects arising from marine fish populations amounts to US$ 235 billion.
- The Ocean Health Index rates the world’s ocean health at 60 out of 100, based on measures of ecological health and human benefits; the UNEP estimated that in 2006, every square mile of ocean contained 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
- In 2006, 32% of global fisheries were developing, 27% fully exploited, 25% over-exploited and 16% collapsed or closed.
“The ocean is large and opaque. It is an act of irresponsible faith to think that this impenetrable blue mass is big enough to absorb all our sins without consequence. We need to finish the work of realistically assessing the ocean's value, and cherish it accordingly.”
Tony Haymet, Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, USA
“Beyond the dependence on seafood as nourishment, the global seafood industry generates more than US$ 190 billion annually and creates more than 350 million jobs. These goods and services which support our livelihoods, health, food security and cultural heritage represent our ‘natural capital’ – a critical, but as of yet, economically invisible pillar of sustainable development. The management of natural capital must be better accounted, valued and incorporated into decision-making as nations and businesses collaborate to build healthy green and blue economies that will continue to thrive well into the future.”
Greg Stone, Senior Vice-President and Chief Scientist for Oceans, Conservation International, USA
Seafood Traceability: A Key to Sustainable Livelihoods, Durable Trade and Secure Communities
Ocean Health Index
Global Agenda Council on Oceans Annual Report
The Ocean Solution
Blog by Greg Stone
Blog by Masanori Miyahara
Blog by Chris Knight
Oceans are the primary life support system of the planet, and humanity is dependent on their sustainable use. Multistakeholder engagement is essential to ensure that the relationship between industrial activity and the oceans is sustainable; solutions must align science, policy and business. The Council is bringing policy-makers and business leaders together around critical themes affecting ocean-based economic activity, by developing and promoting better management tools. The Ocean Health Index (OHI), a project endorsed by the Council in 2009 and launched mid-2012, can help guide how the Earth’s largest resource, the oceans, is managed. The OHI is the first global standard that is scientifically grounded and transparent. Based on 50+ biophysical and socio-economic indicators, it assesses the oceans’ capacity to provide long-term benefits for human well-being. The OHI provides each coastal country with its own score and a global ranking, and is designed to help leaders, businesses and the public make decisions that will improve ocean health.
As one priority, the Council is currently focusing on improving the transparency and tracking of seafood supply chains. Presently, consumers, distributors and many seafood processors lack basic information on the sources from which seafood products originate. Generally, they cannot know whether fisheries are over fished or properly managed, or if the fish were even caught legally. This is a major concern since evidence suggests illegal fishing provides between 12-29% of the wild-caught seafood in global markets.
Today an important impediment to business efforts to take action is the plethora of organizations, NGOs, academic groups and others working towards ocean conservation. This creates redundancies, and the necessity to create more interlinkages between initiatives is clear. The Council recently decided to collect such efforts in a repository of relevant activities and content, as a guide for decision-makers across different sectors.
Research Analyst: Sandra Miura, Research Analyst, Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Manager: Nathalie Chalmers, Programme Manager, Sustainability and Environment, Programme team, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Dominic Waughray, Senior Director, Head of Environmental Initiative, firstname.lastname@example.org