New Partnership Aims to Protect World’s $2.5 Trillion Ocean Economy

20 Jan 2017

Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, World Economic Forum: Tel.: +41 (0)79 201 0211; Email:

· Partnership between the World Economic Forum and University of California Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute aims to boost multistakeholder cooperation to help achieve goal 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: to conserve and sustainably use the oceans and marine resources

· Scientists warned six months ago of “unprecedented” marine extinction, with devastating consequences for ocean ecology and the people who rely on them

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20 January 2017, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland The World Economic and the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute today announced a partnership to improve the health of the world’s oceans and maritime resources.

Part of the Forum’s New Vision for Ocean Initiative, the aim is to bring together public, private and civil society sector stakeholders to achieve goal number 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The partnership would follow the multistakeholder model of other successful environmental public-private partnerships brokered by, or hosted at the World Economic Forum, such as the Alliance of Climate Leaders, Global Water Initiative, Circular Economy initiatives and the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020.

It will be supported by the Benioff Ocean Initiative, an applied programme within the Marine Science Institute, using science to improve ocean health, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a fund to advance ocean science, protection and management.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, oceans generate goods and services worth an estimated $2.5 trillion per year, equivalent to the seventh largest economy in the world. However, this value – in addition to the livelihoods of 80% of the world’s population – is threatened by the decline in ocean health, lack of adequate measuring and monitoring of ocean activities.

The announcement comes less than six months after scientists warned in a report in the Journal Science that humanity is driving unprecedented marine extinction, with devastating consequences for the ecology of the oceans and the people who rely on them.

Douglas McCauley, Marine Biologist and Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who co-authored the report, is director of the Benioff Ocean Initiative and working on the New Vision for Oceans. “Through this new partnership with the World Economic Forum, scientists at UC Santa Barbara who are setting the global agenda for ocean research will also now play a role in setting the global agenda for ocean change,” he said.

“Outputs from the broader conversation about oceans at Davos will be used to create the same kind of activation energy for ocean change that the Forum has fostered on other critical environmental initiatives. The goal is to use the Davos meeting to frame the importance of oceans, solidify partners and kick-start the oceans initiative,” he added.

The UN Ocean conference in New York, co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden, on 5-9 June 2017, can help launch such a new effort.

Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, said: “We need to redouble our collective effort to manage the crisis we face from ocean degradation and illegal fishing. This partnership will harness the potential of public-private cooperation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution to help the international community meet the ocean Sustainable Development Goal.”

"The health of our oceans is critical to the fate of our planet and should be a top priority for all business and world leaders,” said Marc R. Benioff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce. “Building coalitions like this – among leaders in science, business, society and government – will be critical as we fight for the future of our oceans.”

The 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is taking place on 17-20 January in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, under the theme Responsive and Responsible Leadership. More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries participated in over 400 sessions.

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