Once considered vast and inexhaustible, the Ocean is being exploited in ways that were unimaginable a few decades ago. Over-fishing, plastic pollution, ocean warming and acidification and more threaten to undermine the ability of the Ocean to underpin human well-being and life on Earth as we know it.
The world cannot afford to continue this current trajectory. A new pathway is needed, one where profitability and sustainability operate together to the benefit and health of people and the Ocean. WRI will help identify this pathway, applying our core approach of Count It, Change It, Scale It.
What is true for business is true for the Ocean: what gets monitored gets managed. We aim to support the Ocean Community and the multiple Ocean Initiatives and coalitions that have put the ocean on the global agenda, because there is a general recognition that Ocean monitoring is falling short. Likewise, we need to link biophysical changes in the Ocean and the global policy agenda.
We seek to help fill this gap and support the Ocean community by preparing annual State of the Ocean reports that track progress toward SDG 14—to conserve and sustainably use the Ocean. These reports would monitor developments in policies, programs, business practices and finance to determine “how goes the battle”—highlighting successes and what is needed to create system-wide change. Others can then take these findings into action.
Current practices are based on the misguided assumption that economic development requires over-extracting and polluting the Ocean. That narrative must change. Bringing together the world’s top institutions in Ocean economics, politics and science, we seek to help craft a new narrative, one where transitioning to a new Ocean economy is good for jobs, economic growth, international competitiveness, health and the Ocean.
The evidence-based results would inform and stimulate a new narrative for governments, private-sector leaders and the media. It would showcase the costs of inaction, the benefits of action, real-world examples of success and a roadmap to achieving a new Ocean economy.
Change at scale requires moving in the same direction. That means getting the new Ocean narrative on the global political and business agenda and keeping it there. To do this, we will work with ocean partners and research institutions to put our findings into the hands of decision-makers, and Ocean networks such as the Friends of Ocean Action and the UN Special Envoy’s Communities of Action. Such networks and others are playing a critical role in advancing the Ocean agenda.
New in Ocean
Research Associate, Sustainable Ocean Initiative
Director, Forest Legality Initiative
Associate II, International Climate Initiative