Nature and Biodiversity

World Ocean Day: Young Global Leaders outline what we need to do to protect the sea

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Under the ocean

Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth's surface. Image: Unsplash/Jeremy Bishop

James Forsyth
Community Lead, South Asia/ASEAN, and Member Relations, Young Global Leaders, World Economic Forum
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  • The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth's surface and play a key role in regulating the planet's climate and support its biodiversity.
  • But climate change is putting the ocean under threat thanks to rising temperatures, which profoundly impacts marine ecosystems.
  • On World Ocean Day, three Young Global Leaders outline what we need to do to safeguard our seas, to the benefit of everyone.

Every year, people worldwide celebrate World Ocean Day on June 8. This day is aims to raise awareness about the importance of the ocean and the need to protect them. Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth's surface, and play a vital role in regulating the planet's climate and supporting its biodiversity.

But unfortunately, our ocean is facing several serious threats. Climate change is causing ocean temperatures to rise and its chemistry to change, which profoundly impacts marine ecosystems.

Overfishing is also a significant problem, with many fish stocks being depleted to dangerously low levels. In addition, plastic pollution is a growing issue, with millions of tonnes of plastic waste ending up in the ocean each year.

To address these issues, individuals, organizations and governments alike need to come together and take action to protect our ocean. This year, we recognize the importance of building new alliances to protect and conserve our magnificent oceans.

From scientists and policymakers to industry representatives and local communities, we must unite by a shared commitment to sustainable ocean management. By fostering innovative collaborations and breaking down barriers, we can unlock the transformative potential of collective action.

Let us forge new partnerships, combining our diverse perspectives, knowledge, and resources to safeguard our ocean for future generations.

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We asked three members of our Young Global Leaders (YGL) community how leaders can build partnerships and foster innovative collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including scientists, policymakers, industry representatives and local communities, to achieve sustainable ocean management.

Here’s what they had to say.

'When we highly protect ocean areas, life returns spectacularly’

Kristin Rechberger, Chief Executive Officer, Dynamic Planet, USA

The ocean economy is currently bankrupt compared to what it could be if thriving and managed well. When we highly protect ocean areas, life returns spectacularly.

Marine reserves serve as ‘fish factories’, lifting all sectors that rely on ocean life – particularly tourism inside the reserves and sustainable fishing outside.

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We can reset the ocean economy with protection yielding more production. Greater returns to more beneficiaries can move us from tragedy of the commons to victory for the commons.

The process includes best science with local knowledge, marine spatial planning with marine reserves, and investment to transition from an extractive to a regenerative economy.

‘The world needs more marine life so the ocean can continue providing’

Dr Enric Sala, Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society, USA

A healthy ocean is essential to the survival of humanity. But we’ve built our ‘blue economy’ upon the destruction of marine life. The world needs more marine life so the ocean can continue providing for us.

We can achieve that largely by protecting the right 30% of the global ocean by 2030 – and manage our activities in the other 70% responsibly.

That would restore marine biodiversity, enhance food security, mitigate global warming, support jobs and livelihoods, and support a sustainable blue economy.

All it takes is political will to set the rules, and everyone else will do what’s right.

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'We are all citizens of this planet, and we should take our roles here seriously'

Susannah Rodgers, Technical Adviser on Disability Inclusion, Climate and Environment Directorate, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom

To truly find solutions for adaptation and to build our own resilience and knowledge, we need to look at solutions derived from everyone in society, including women, youth, Indigenous people, people with disabilities and so on.

We need more discussions around public discourse, education and behaviour change. We are all citizens of this planet, and we should take our roles here seriously.

Diving with manta rays recently in Bali and observing a coral regrowth project off Nusa Penida, I’m struck by the power of volunteering, community level engagement and education in furthering ocean conservation and the real benefits of marine protected areas (MPAs).

Manta rays
Manta rays in Bali. Image: Susannah Rodgers

What is still missing is a stronger awareness in the tourism industry on how to be more sustainable and inclusive. Value for money still comes down to financial gain and we need a full systems and societal shift to embrace value for money in terms of biodiversity protection, involving communities at the heart.

One of the most important things that we can do to protect our ocean is to support the creation of MPAs. These areas are designated as no-take zones, where fishing and other human activities are prohibited in order to allow marine ecosystems to recover and thrive.

Marine protected areas have been shown to be effective in restoring fish populations and improving the health of coral reefs and other marine habitats.

In addition to supporting the creation of marine protected areas, it is also important to support research and monitoring efforts to better understand the challenges facing our ocean.

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What's the World Economic Forum doing about the ocean?

This research can help us develop effective strategies for addressing these challenges and protecting our ocean for future generations.

Ultimately, protecting our ocean requires a global effort, with individuals, organizations, and governments all working together to address the threats facing marine ecosystems.

By taking action to reduce our impact on the ocean and supporting efforts to protect it, we can help ensure that the ocean continues to play its vital role in supporting life on Earth.

So, let us all come together on this World Ocean Day to raise awareness about the importance of our ocean and take action to protect them.

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Contents
'When we highly protect ocean areas, life returns spectacularly’‘The world needs more marine life so the ocean can continue providing’'We are all citizens of this planet, and we should take our roles here seriously'

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