There are lots of reasons to feel blue about the state of the ocean. From acidification to climate change's impact on the zooplankton that form the basis of the marine food chain, there’s a constant stream of bad news.
But there’s also room for optimism. World Oceans Day on 8 June aims to celebrate our seas – and remind us why we should protect them.
Here are some stories published recently by the World Economic Forum that show what people are doing to save the oceans.
Ocean exploitation could be limited through the creation of sanctuaries. A plan set out by the University of York, the University of Oxford and Greenpeace – would see at least 30% of the global oceans become protected areas, or ocean sanctuaries.
Managing the ocean sustainably
In a piece written for Davos 2019, the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will mean producing more from the ocean, in terms of food, jobs and energy.
But – and it’s a big but – this will require better management, preventing degradation and improving its environmental state.
The good news is, though, that sustainable management of the oceans could provide enormous benefits to humanity: “We firmly believe that the oceans hold the key to solving many of the most challenging tasks facing the world today,” she wrote.
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Discarded, lost and abandoned fishing gear – so-called “ghost nets” – damage coral reefs and kill marine life.
But thanks to the work of a conservation group, ghosts nets are getting a new lease of life as recycled volleyball nets, including on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach. The project works with local divers and salvage companies to remove nets from the sea - making sure no more fish can be accidentally caught in them.
6 for 1
Okay, this one might be cheating a little bit… here are six positive developments.
From an Indonesian government project to tackle plastic pollution, to electric ferries, these initiatives tackle some of the biggest issues facing the oceans.
What's the World Economic Forum doing about the oceans?
Our oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface and account for 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. We can't have a healthy future without healthy oceans - but they're more vulnerable than ever because of climate change and pollution.
Tackling the grave threats to our oceans means working with leaders across sectors, from business to government to academia.
The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute, convenes the Friends of Ocean Action, a coalition of leaders working together to protect the seas. From a programme with the Indonesian government to cut plastic waste entering the sea to a global plan to track illegal fishing, the Friends are pushing for new solutions.
Climate change is an inextricable part of the threat to our oceans, with rising temperatures and acidification disrupting fragile ecosystems. The Forum runs a number of initiatives to support the shift to a low-carbon economy, including hosting the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, who have cut emissions in their companies by 9%.
Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.
Voices for the deep
In another Davos piece, Laura Liswood, Secretary-General of the Council of Women World Leaders, called for greater gender equality in all things ocean.
“Fishing and aquaculture are neither gender-blind nor gender-neutral,” she said. But groups such as Friends of Ocean Action, which is convened by the World Economic Forum and the World Resources Institute, are making sure women’s voices are heard.
If we are to solve the many challenges facing the oceans, women need to be involved in the decision-making process.