World Economic Forum

Friends of Ocean Action

The Friends of Ocean Action are developing action tracks in line with the most urgent targets of the ‘Ocean Goal’ Sustainable Development Goal 14. These are:

  • Plastics pollution
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and sustainable ocean production
  • Science-based targets for the ocean
  • Marine Protected Areas
  • Maritime and shipping sector emissions
  • Ocean data and technology
  • Financing ocean innovation

The aim is to drive action and showcase a portfolio of high-impact, transformative and scaleable initiatives in time for the proposed UN Ocean Conference in 2020.

Plastics Pollution

The challenge: A staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Much of it comes via the world’s rivers, which act as direct conduits of trash from the world’s cities to the marine environment.

The action track: The Global Plastic Action Partnership is bringing businesses, international donors, national and local government, community groups and world-class experts together to collaborate on stop the growth in global plastic pollution by 2025. It will translate ambitious commitments into action by fast-tracking circular economy solutions in coastal countries battling plastic waste. See our announcement and press conference for more information.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

The challenge: One in three fish caught around the world never makes it to the plate and, in many cases, consumers cannot tell if the fish they eat was legally caught. For fisheries, global losses are between $10 billion and US $23.5 billion annually - between 10 and 22 percent of total production. IUU fishing threatens marine ecosystems, puts food and regional security at risk, and is linked to slavery, major human rights violations and transnational organized crime.

The action track: Friends are working with businesses, retailers, fishing companies, tech experts and key partners to support breakthroughs in the fight against illegal fishing. They are helping translate business commitments across fishing supply chains into action (e.g. the Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration) and driving robust implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement, which seeks to curb illegal fishing through port inspections. They are working to identify opportunities for data and technology to support actions.

Marine Protected Areas

The challenge: Only seven percent of the ocean is protected. Many marine parks and reserves are poorly managed or represent stand-alone efforts with little integration between them. Addressing this is key to restoring ocean ecosystems – while generating and safeguarding the jobs, food supplies, industries and livelihoods that rely on healthy seas.

Action track: The Friends are helping the international community’s efforts to address the current ‘ad hoc approach’ to marine conservation by shifting to a more coordinated, effective and strategic network of marine protected areas. This will be grounded in science and backed-up by new technologies, satellite, monitoring and tracking data. The aim is to help reach the Ocean Goal target of at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas protected by 2020 (and setting the path for a more ambitious target of 30 percent by 2030).

Maritime and Shipping Sector Emissions

The challenge: Shipping is the backbone of world trade, transporting around 80 percent of global goods. But it is a big emitter of carbon and sulphur dioxide, which contribute to climate change, pollution and a range of health problems. By 2020, the International Maritime Organization requires that all fuels used in ships contain no more than 0.5 percent sulphur. By 2050, the target is to decarbonise the shipping industry by at least 50 percent.

Action track: The Friends are working with the maritime sector on a coalition that would drive radical high-tech changes in the shipping industry to reduce the sector’s global greenhouse gas emissions. Innovations such as alternative fuels, electrification and data for fuel efficiency are all needed in order to deliver the targets.

Ocean Data Platform

The challenge: Only 5 percent of the ocean has been fully explored yet new technologies, data-processing, advanced sensors and satellites could transform our knowledge of, and relationship with, the ocean. We can tap into this information revolution and make the Ocean’s data available as a comprehensive, open-source, digital platform for the public good and to better inform decision making. This Friends are working to address that gap.

Action track: The Friends are cooperating closely with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to advise on a) how such a platform is governed, and b) how to draw in existing data initiatives and partners.

Financing Ocean Innovation

The challenge: If the Ocean was a nation, it would constitute the world's seventh largest economy, worth $24 trillion. This vast economic worth is at risk due to pollution, climate change and overfishing.

Action track: Companies, financial institutions and policymakers are increasingly aware of the need to shift capital flows to sustainable ocean solutions that benefit both economies and the environment. Friends are therefore exploring the opportunities, risks and barriers to deploying innovative solutions for sustainable investment in the ocean, and how it can be scaled.

Science-Based Targets

The challenge: The Paris climate agreement saw the world’s governments commit to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees celsius. It was the signal businesses needed to fast-track low carbon changes. Smart companies understand risks so setting targets in line with the latest science is a great way to future-proof growth and transition to a sustainable ocean economy.

The action track: The Science-based Targets Network aims to bring ocean action into the world's boardrooms. Part of the the Earth Targets Platform (led by International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the World Resources Institute, the Global Environment Facility and Stockholm Resilience Centre), it is working with key stakeholders to make a case for business and investors to set targets (and precise language) for the ocean, by highlighting the commercial benefits: food security, coastal protection, carbon sequestration, tourism and recreation, medicines, biotechnology and pharma, water filtration, and biodiversity.

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