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Taking action

Our aim is to drive action and showcase high-impact, transformative and scaleable initiatives in time for the proposed UN Ocean Conference in 2020. We have the following key action tracks:

Plastic pollution (the Global Plastic Action Partnership)


The challenge

Eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the Ocean every year. Much of it comes via the world’s rivers, which act as conduits of trash from the world’s cities to the marine environment.

The action track

Stop growth in plastic pollution by 2025 by demonstrating ‘investable and scalable’ circular economy solutions in three coastal economies by 2020, ready to be adapted and implemented globally


SDG 14.1


Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP)

Pew Charitable Trusts

World Bank

Global Environment Facility

Governments of Ghana, Indonesia and a small island developing state.


Launch GPAP and engage first three countries

Establish MOUs with business and governments, identify partners to drive collaboration

Translate three national plans into tangible action with on-the-ground partners

Work with Pew on data analysis and modelling to propel evidence-based action

Explore funding opportunities and strategy


Complete baseline reports in pilot countries and identify other candidates for system transformation

In 3 pilot countries:
- Analytics completed and published
- Multi stakeholder platforms up-and-running
- Key projects identified, and financing triggered
- Scalable success and positive momentum demonstrated

Additional countries for catalytic intervention on plastic pollution identified


Projects implemented in pilot countries and showcased at UN Ocean conference

Establish GPAP proof of concept with successful, active projects

Achieve funding to expand scope through to 2025

Showcase outcomes at UN Ocean Conference to demonstrate scalable, investable solutions ready to be adapted and replicated

Securing Sustainable Food from the Ocean


The challenge

By the year 2050, the human population is estimated to have grown from seven billion to 10 billion people. The current land-based system of food and protein production, cannot meet the needs of a growing and more urbanized population. Turning to the Ocean could be a solution, but it is being rapidly depleted of fish, due to unsustainable fishing and aquaculture.

The Action Track

Improve Ocean health and ensure human health through Ocean-related food security and nutrition, making the case for investment in sustainable Ocean food production and raising Ocean health higher in political fora on food security


SDG 2.4, SDG 14.2


Food and Agriculture Organisation

EAT Foundation

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions

Stockholm Resilience Centre


Identify knowledge gaps

Map work already done on Ocean-related food security

Scope solutions identified to tackle key challenges (e.g. how to scale aquaculture sustainably)

Identify gaps in existing research


Develop knowledge on sustainably increasing protein production

Commission report on Ocean-related food security in relation to planetary boundaries, building on EAT-Lancet Commission work

Explore opportunity of UN Secretary-General’s 2019 Climate Change Summit as potential launchpad for a food security protein partnership

Strengthen links between Ocean and land-based protein production action


Communicate sustainable solutions to meet rising demand for protein

Publish report which develops global scientific targets for healthy diets and sustainable Ocean-related food production

Launch food security protein partnership

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing


The challenge

One in three fish caught around the world never makes it to the plate and consumers often cannot tell if the fish they eat was legally caught. For fisheries, global losses are up to US $23.5 billion a year, 22% of total production. IUU fishing threatens marine ecosystems, jobs and livelihoods, food supplies and regional security. It is linked to slavery, human rights violations and transnational organized crime.

The Action Track

Create a global mechanism for tackling IUU fishing across three pillars: 1) enlist industry and secure commitment to implementing the Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration; 2) enlist key seafood trading nations to ratify and implement the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA); 3) facilitate industry and government data contributions to new Ocean data to aid enforcement and monitoring




Fishing sector supply chain


PSMA signatories


Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration


Review tools, locate hotspots and drive engagement

Identify and engage new supply chain players and solution-finders

Convene retailers and NGOs to agree strategy for implementing an alliance for tuna fishing and tracking progress


Operationalise retailer action plan, launch user case for Ocean data

Develop solutions for preventing human trafficking in the tuna fleet

Convince key retailers and processors to sign up to an alliance for tuna fishing (target: top 10 seafood businesses)

Engage all signatories to implement their commitments

Involve fishing sector across full supply chain

Use platform for Ocean data to support IUU decision making and enforcement mechanisms


Showcase private sector tuna traceability plan

Alliance establishes mechanism for tracking implementation

Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration implemented across key retailers and regions

Commitment of new partners to the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability and a robust human trafficking strategy

Announce extension of strategy to other species

Global trend and volume of IUU fishing begins decreasing

Positive impact on other SDGs (e.g. SDG 1, SDG 2, SDG 8, SDG 10 and SDG 16)

Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA)


PSMA engagement strategy development

Increase awareness of PSMA as powerful instrument in fight against IUU fishing

Begin engaging potential PSMA signatories (particularly key APEC members including Canada, China, Mexico, Russia)

Develop timeline for country engagement

Engage and align with FAO


11 additional countries signed up to PSMA

Scope The Friends' interest and capacity to contribute

Further engage governments that have not ratified PSMA

Build/work with regional partnerships to facilitate ratification and leverage action

Develop platform for real-time data exchange to support PSMA implementation


PSMA ratification initiated in 100+ countries

Initiation (at least) of ratification process in over 100 countries

Agreement on PSMA implementation ‘tool box’ as package for robust implementation (e.g. sharing key data, common documentation)

Global trend and volume of IUU fishing begins decreasing

Positive impact on other SDGs (e.g. SDG 1, SDG 2, SDG 8, SDG 10 and SDG 16)

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)


The challenge

Only 7% of the ocean is protected. Many marine reserves are poorly managed or represent standalone efforts with little integration between them. Yet these ‘parks in the sea’ should be seen as part of a country’s infrastructure, ensuring a sustainable tourism industry and food from the sea. Addressing this is key to restoring ocean ecosystems while generating and safeguarding the businesses, communities, jobs, and livelihoods that rely on healthy seas.

The action track

Achieve ambitious marine protection targets by mobilising governments and institutions to coordinate their approach to MPAs and partnering with key stakeholders to set-up and champion game-changing new MPA platform


SDG 14.5



Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)

World Bank Pro Blue Fund

Local stakeholders


Engage partners and identify pathway to 2020 target

Convene contributors, map existing initiatives

Align on targets and enablers for ambitious 2020 and 2030 outcomes

Scope how The Friends can support the 10% by 2020 target and encourage local engagement

Develop case study to highlight economic, financing and business opportunities for MPAs

Engage and align with CBD to ensure full support from The Friends for targets


Develop new MPA platform

Develop case study to highlight economic, financing and business opportunities for MPAs

Develop MPA platform: a solution for marine spatial planning, monitoring and data dissemination for effective MPA implementation

Identify key partners and funders to champion MPA platform

Launch MPA platform user case and other pilot projects

Engage World Bank and its Pro Blue Fund and develop financing models/blended finance

Explore Antarctic and high seas as options to increase global MPA coverage


Showcase MPA benefits and progress towards ambitious 2030 target

10% SDG 14 target is met on schedule

Pilot MPA platform in key hotspots in partnership with governments and local stakeholders (starting with SIDS)

Showcase MPA benefits for economy, society and cultures

Build commitment to ambitious 30% by 2030 target though strong coalition of world business champions

Progress towards agreeing target of 30% coastal and marine protected areas by 2030

Maritime and Shipping Sector Emissions


The challenge

Shipping is the backbone of world trade, transporting around 80% of global goods. But it is a big emitter of carbon and sulphur dioxide. By 2020, the International Maritime Organization requires that all fuels will contain no more than 0.5% sulphur. By 2050, the target is to decarbonize the shipping industry by 50%.

The action track

Create a ‘coalition for the transformation of shipping’ and an ‘Ocean protection and safety alliance’ to drive technology change and decarbonisation in the shipping industry and advance the 50-70% emission reduction target by 2050



International Maritime Organisation target to reduce global shipping emissions by 50% by 2050


GEF/UNDP Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Programme

IMO Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping

WEF Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution


Port Authorities


Create vision and synergies for decarbonisation of shipping industry

Explore partnerships with IMO Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping

Engage shipping industry and value chain with the 4th Industrial Revolution

Identify and strengthen synergies with other Action Tracks

Create foundation of an informal sector coalition along the shipping value chain supporting a decarbonisation vision


Build collaboration and investments to drive change

Establish informal shipping sector coalition

Convene industry, innovators, governments, port authorities and cities to advance solutions

Identify alternatives to fossil fuels to discuss with regulators and attract investors

Build collaboration between the shipping industry and other work streams of The Friends

Work with the maritime sector to drive radical high-tech changes

Ensure investments needed to scale up identified technologies and innovations


Launch the Coalition for Transformation Shipping at the UN Ocean Conference

Present plans for decarbonisation of shipping and heightened 2050 ambitions

Announce achievement of IMO target for all ship fuels containing no more than 0.5% Sulphur

Progress towards IMO target to decarbonise shipping by at least 50% by 2050

Agreement by shipping sector leaders on a pathway to decarbonise the industry

Emerging technologies supporting this transition and becoming more accessible

Ocean Data


The Challenge

Only 5% of the Ocean has been fully explored yet new technologies, data-processing, sensors and satellites could transform our knowledge of, and relationship with, the Ocean. We can tap into this information revolution, making ocean data available as a comprehensive, opensource, digital platform for the public good and to feed more informed decision-making.

The Action Track

Friends of Ocean Action working with partners to develop an open-source digital platform that enables free access to all existing data for better Ocean management and protection and the global public good


SDG 14.2, 14.4, 14.5


Rev Ocean


Global Fishing Watch

Pristine Seas project

World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution


Create the architecture

Map existing data platforms to identify gaps and opportunities

Harmonize data points

Convene experts and ensure integration of valuable initiatives

Set up governance working group to build trust and create strong platform framework

Call for liberation of Ocean data and develop initial user case studies


Build the user cases

Mobilise partner networks to develop additional cases

Roadmap potential new user cases, including for the Port State Measures Agreement

Submit framework proposal for a secure and transparent platform for Ocean data

Demonstrate platform as useful tool for decision-making & investment for a healthy Ocean


Identify key partners

Establish The Friends as the platform for front-end user applications and sharing best practices

Scale up Global Fishing Watch capability, including AIS VMS data for all important countries

Allow integration of on-board data to track performance against environmental and social requirements

Develop financial sustainability model for continued operations

Align with UN Decade of Ocean Science to highlight data gaps and call for open Ocean research

Financing Ocean Innovation


The challenge

If the Ocean was an economy, it would be the world’s seventh largest, worth US $24 trillion. This vast economic worth is at risk due to pollution, climate change and overfishing.

The action track

Demonstrate opportunities for financing Ocean change, scaling up solutions, and identifying blended finance mechanisms for Ocean innovation, including by operationalising a new investable fund to advance a cohesive Ocean financing strategy




Financial institutions


Technology innovators


Identify Ocean financing gaps and build a mechanism to address them

Map and convene experts and contributors

Map existing and emerging Ocean funds and investment tools, and ways to scale them up

Explore critical areas for investment and financial support (e.g. zero carbon infrastructure)

Convene meeting with entities engaged in Ocean risk


Build the platform architecture and business case for Ocean investments

Develop roadmap showing common financial thread between ocean-related meetings up to 2030

Evolve The Friends' Ocean Finance platform to engage other active partners

Develop risk-opportunity narrative that builds case for long-term Ocean investments

Establish platform architecture to leverage technologies and attract financing for smart, replicable solutions

Launch commitment fund and secure $25-30m


Launch new investable Ocean finance platform at the UN Ocean Conference

Launch new Ocean finance platform with diverse investment strategies and portfolio of supporters

Secure $50m in new money investment

Showcase examples of returns in investment and potential ocean financing benefits

Eliminating Harmful Fisheries Subsidies


The challenge

Nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. There is no doubt that fisheries subsidies play a big role. Without them, we could slow the overexploitation of fish stocks, deal with the overcapacity of fishing fleets, and tackle the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The action track

Mobilise key stakeholders, governments and organisations to take concrete action towards the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies and advance this issue at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)


SDG 14.6


International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)

The Pew Charitable Trust




Fisheries sector

UN Agencies

Champion country governments


Engage key stakeholders and develop Action Plan

Identify and begin engaging the most impactful actors

Map existing initiatives

Engage WTO

Develop political mapping and evaluate best role for The Friends

Explore potential of engagement with G20 and G7 countries

Elaborate Action Plan


Develop WTO recommendations and engage champion countries

Open discussions with WTO Director General and other key leaders

Explore opportunities for holding a thematic mini-ministerial conference on SDG 14.6 in Geneva

Identify and engage champion states (e.g. China and India)

Develop key recommendations for WTO negotiations

Ministerial Decision on Fisheries Subsidies consistent with SDG 14.6 agreed at mini-ministerial


Showcase success at UN Ocean Conference and WTO Ministerial

Harmful subsidies eliminated

Showcase success stories and results at UN Ocean Conference and WTO 12th Ministerial

Demonstrate how countries are implementing commitments and how The Friends is supporting them