The ocean gives us life, feeds us, entertains us, connects us, inspires us and powers our success. Humanity’s well-being is deeply intertwined with the health of the ocean. But today, the ocean’s health is off track. It’s under intense pressure from pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and climate change. A degraded ocean has vast repercussions, not just for ocean ecosystems, but for communities everywhere — and our very existence. 

Achieving a sustainable ocean economy offers a new path forward. Instead of business as usual, we can choose a triple win for people, nature and the economy, where effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity go hand in hand. The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) is proactively managing human activities to ensure the ocean’s resources are used wisely and fairly. 

Established in September 2018, the Ocean Panel works with governments, businesses, financial institutions, the science community and civil society to catalyze and scale bold, pragmatic solutions for sustainable ocean management.  

If sustainably managed, the ocean could: 

In December 2020, the Ocean Panel put forward a new ocean action agenda underpinned by a commitment to sustainably manage 100% of national waters by 2025. Built upon knowledge and science, transformative recommendations and action, the agenda is the culmination of a historic two-year effort to chart the course toward a sustainable ocean economy.  

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WRI serves as the Secretariat for the Ocean Panel and assists with analytical work, communications and stakeholder engagement. WRI oversaw the publication of 16 Blue Papers and Special Reports commissioned by the Ocean Panel which inform the Ocean Panel’s action agenda, shape the new ocean narrative and identify opportunities to facilitate the transition to a sustainable ocean economy. Over 250 experts and authors, including WRI staff, contributed to this research. These papers and reports are an independent input to the Ocean Panel process and do not represent the thinking of the Ocean Panel.  

Read the Ocean Panel's Reports

Co-chaired by Norway and Palau, the Ocean Panel members represent nations of highly diverse oceanic, economic and political perspectives. It is supported by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean.   

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) supports part of this work under the project “Strengthening the Blue Economy: The Economic Case, Science-Informed Policy, and Transparency.” 

Learn more about the Ocean Panel’s policy priorities here.  

Photo Credit: Beth Watson/Coral Reef Bank Image Bank.