Nature and Biodiversity

5 things you need to know about the Virtual Ocean Dialogues

Scuba divers underwater and fishing tour boat above the Caribbean Sea in Cozumel, Mexico

Scuba divers underwater and fishing tour boat above the Caribbean Sea in Cozumel, Mexico Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Gemma Parkes
Communications Manager, Nature Pillar, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: Virtual Ocean Dialogues

1) It’s the first of its kind

Since COVID-19 has brought on event and summit postponements thick and fast, including the UN Ocean Conference (which is being rescheduled for 2021), urgent talks on the future of our ocean have risked stalling. The Virtual Ocean Dialogues are stepping into the breach as the first totally online comprehensive global conference for ocean action. The Dialogues will happen over video conferencing platform Zoom, offering opportunities for registered participants to interact and share ideas. They will also be livestreamed on the World Economic Forum event website, and recordings will be available to watch after each Dialogue.

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2) It’s free and open to all

Anyone on the planet can be a part of the Virtual Ocean Dialogues. Do you have an interest in the ocean and how we can ensure a global recovery that is fair and sustainable as well as profitable? Join us. Under the theme of ‘connecting communities for ocean resilience, innovation and action’, the Virtual Ocean Dialogues are open, inclusive and designed to foster an exchange of a range of insights and inputs. The 12 Dialogues are being livestreamed directly from the event website, and will be available to watch there afterwards. You can also join the conversation on social media, using the hashtag #OceanDialogues, and a liveblog will share real-time updates and insights via the event website.

3) It features an eclectic range of voices

The list of speakers and contributors is shaping up to be a diverse and dynamic mix of leaders and inspirers from across the world. We will have heads of state as well as leaders from the public sector and business digitally rubbing shoulders with inventors, scientists, civil society representatives, youth leaders, tech entrepreneurs, explorers and journalists. The Dialogues and deep dive breakout sessions will be a fascinating exchange of experiences and ideas for shaping a sustainable and thriving future for the ocean. Don’t miss it.

4) It’s important

Seen from space, our planet is blue. The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and is essential to our ability to survive and thrive. It provides the oxygen for every second breath we take, and is our greatest ally in tackling climate change. Marine life is incredibly diverse. But the ocean also plays a critical role in enabling fair and just development. It provides food and jobs to billions of people, and when managed wisely this productivity can coexist with a healthy ocean. If the ocean were an economy, it would be the world's seventh largest. It shores up livelihoods and wellbeing. This so-called ‘blue economy’ provides opportunities through tourism, shipping, food production and more; the challenge is to ensure those enterprises are sustainable. We cannot survive without the ocean being in good shape, and its role in bringing about a lasting recovery from COVID-19 is critical. The Virtual Ocean Dialogues offer a timely chance to get our heads together online and keep up momentum for a healthy ocean.

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5) It’s hopeful

The tone running throughout the Virtual Ocean Dialogues is one of hope and possibility. With realistic optimism, we will be giving airtime to new solutions and creative innovations that can help solve some of the biggest challenges facing the ocean. We will acknowledge, for example, that illegal fishing remains rife and that pollution risks choking ocean life and infiltrating our own food systems – and then, in the next breath, we will share exciting ideas and developments that can lead to meaningful, lasting ocean action. A healthy ocean is critical in ensuring that communities around the world are resilient to change and new challenges. We really do need all hands on deck to chart a hopeful, sustainable, thriving course for the ocean. Will you join us?

Register for the Virtual Ocean Dialogues here.

See the full programme with updated speaker information here.

Follow news and updates on the website, and social media using #OceanDialogues.

The Virtual Ocean Dialogues are an initiative of Friends of Ocean Action with the World Economic Forum.

Follow Friends of Ocean Action on Twitter here.

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