Uniting and activating powerful voices for ocean conservation

The Navigator

Welcome to The Navigator!

Today, Ocean Unite is very excited to announce the launch of its new film and initiative “The Ocean: Everybody’s Business”. Through the Ocean Unite Network – our network of influencers from the worlds of business, politics, science and the media – we hope to broaden and diversify the conversation about the need to protect our blue planet. In particular, we will engage closely with business and finance players to show how safeguarding the Ocean makes good environmental AND business sense. 

Reports have shown that effectively implementing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) brings huge money-making opportunities. In fact, Unilever CEO Paul Polman believes that the SDGs offer the “greatest economic opportunity of a lifetime”. Yet a study conducted late last year reported that many companies are still not engaging with implementing these goals. 

Businesses often have a bad name when it comes to environmental issues, but they are a critical part of the solution – check out Richard Branson’s video message below. Luckily, some companies are already making a difference – from global corporate giants to smaller players producing stylish and sustainable sunglasses and outside furniture. These players serve as an inspiration to others, and we hope to see more and more businesses turning “blue” this year. 

Through its work, Ocean Unite will encourage more businesses to step up and commit to making changes in their practices that will not only prevent more harm to the Ocean but put it on a pathway to recovery. We will get the message out that the time to take action is NOW, and that if we all dive in it is possible to make a positive difference, together. Make Ocean Business your Business – follow developments on #SaveOurOcean

Seen from the Lighthouse – what's happening now?   lighthouse

World Ocean Summit

The Economist’s World Ocean Summit in Bali is currently in full swing. Continuing with the theme of the role of the private sector as part of the solution to the Ocean crisis, this meeting will cast a critical eye on how to finance a sustainable Ocean economy. With limited public funds to finance the activity needed to effectively implement the SDGs – shifting the Ocean from its current path of decline to one of recovery – the private sector definitely needs to step up to this collective challenge. This summit hopes to mobilise a new and timely discussion on how capital and the private sector can drive scalable, sustainable investment in the Ocean, hopefully resulting in tangible actions and more $$$ flowing into Ocean protection and sustainability.

Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of Ocean Unite’s “The Ocean: Everybody’s Business” campaign, as well as announcements of other Ocean initiatives, such as Ocean Unite Network member Adrian Grenier's partnership with Dell to reduce Ocean plastic – and follow the discussions in the room via twitter #oceansummit. Organisers have also appealed to people to share their most feared and most hoped for scenario for the Ocean. You can still include your own hopes and fears, and check out those of others at #OceanWorldif



Waves on the Horizon – what's coming up?

Round 3 of UN High Seas Treaty negotiations set to resume in March

The 3rd Session of the UN Preparatory Committee will meet in New York from 27th March – 7th April, to carry on hammering out the elements of a new legally binding UN agreement to protect high seas biodiversity. Participants have been discussing the scope of the treaty and how to deal with issues such as establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) and fully protected reserves; access and benefit sharing of marine genetic resources; environmental impact assessments; and technology transfer. At the last meeting in September, a number of thornier issues were identified, and the hope is for convergence on issues such as which principles should apply to marine genetic resources (i.e. common heritage of mankind or freedom of the seas, or both), as well as appropriate types of MPAs and how best to establish a framework to create high seas marine sanctuaries.

So, we do know that negotiations about negotiations don’t float most people’s boats, but The Navigator cannot underscore enough just how important it is to secure a strong agreement if we are to effectively conserve and protect biodiversity in two-thirds of the world’s Ocean. Given all the news over the past few weeks about Ocean warming and reduced sea ice cover at both Poles, this really is the “Paris Agreement for the Ocean”. Plus, without this new agreement, which represents such a large area of planetary real estate, the UN’s Ocean SDG will never be achieved.

It is crucial for governments to work through their differences in this critical “pre-negotiation” phase and come to an agreement that will deliver a meaningful and effective treaty. It will be the job of the new chair of the process – Ambassador Carlos Duarte – to navigate these tricky waters. In the meantime, in preparation for the meeting decision-makers should check out these 5 research papers to help inform their positions.

There will be another meeting in July this year, when the proposed treaty elements will hopefully be signed, sealed and delivered to the UN General Assembly, so that it can convene a formal treaty-negotiating conference in 2018, and a strong, final, treaty before 2020.

March for Science and People’s Climate March in April

International Earth Day is on the 22nd April, and this year’s campaign is about environmental and climate literacy. The aim is “to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet.” It is of course no coincidence that a March for Science is being organised on the same day in Washington, DC, home to President Trump, who continues to dodge climate science and is dismantling the US climate legacy at reckless speed – posing a huge threat to the future of our planet. There will be a rally and teach-in on the National Mall in DC, including speeches and training with scientists and civic organizers, musical performances, and a march through Washington's streets. The crowd will gather at 8:00am, and the teach-in will begin at 10:00am.

One week later, on the 29th April, people will take to the streets again in DC for the People’s Climate March to march for jobs, justice and the climate. This will be a moment for a range of progressive social change movements to come together to push back on the dangerous Trump administration’s climate change-denying agenda and to stress the need for “a clean, safe world where the rights of all people are protected and expanded”.

 Since Trump’s inauguration, there has been a huge surge of political energy, with people taking to the streets in great numbers to protest for their rights and those of others that are suddenly under threat. These actions have been truly inspirational and give hope and courage that change is possible. Peaceful protests and other non-violent direct action make a difference, and it is an excellent way to celebrate community and resistance. It is also much more energising than getting angry and shouting at the TV!

Click here for a forward-looking calendar


Ocean Reflections – a look back at what's been happening

Preparations underway for UN's Ocean Conference in June

Last week, delegates from around the world gathered in New York to attend the preparatory meeting for the UN’s Ocean Conference that will assess implementation of the Ocean SDG 14: Life Below Water in June. See Ocean Unite’s talking points and NGO platform Oceans Inc. for more background.

Despite teething problems re. access to the UN building for some groups, as well as confusion on the desired outcomes for the June meeting, governments, civil society and other stakeholders outlined their wish lists for inclusion in a political “Call for Action” declaration, as well as the themes to be included in the partnership dialogues. This led to a wide exchange of views (click here for a more detailed overview of interventions), including questions on whether to raise ambitions (such as the need to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030), or avoid renegotiating targets (even though some expire as early as 2020), as well as whether further meetings were needed to assess implementation or whether to rely on existing processes.

 These words will be translated into a text that is “concise and action-oriented”. This is the lucky task of the co-chairs from Portugal and the Philippines, who will reflect discussions in the zero draft that will be ready by the end of February, with negotiating sessions scheduled for 20–21st March.

The June meeting is hoped to be a “game changer”. Central to the list of outcomes for the meeting is a Registry of Voluntary Commitments, where everyone is encouraged to make pledges on their actions to implement SDG14. Sweden was one of the first to register their commitments on the registry with their announcement to expand their MPA network to reach the SDG target by 2017 already.

While a lot of emphasis has focused on voluntary commitments, the “Call for Action” is really the nub of the Conference, as it will encapsulate the-high level political commitments from world leaders to regenerate the Ocean to ensure sustainable development. It will serve as the vision for how to get to a healthy Ocean by 2030, acting as a reference point for action and compelling governments to implement the SDG14 targets. It therefore needs to be ambitious and inclusive, and include accountability measures to ensure that commitments are followed through, as well as a call for more financing to implement solutions. 

To stay informed in the lead-up to the June meeting, check out the Ocean Action hub, and sign up to the newsletter here. If you want to put on a side event at the June meeting, it will need to be sponsored by member states, UN system and other inter-governmental organizations as well as major groups or other stakeholders. Guidelines and a request form are now available on the Conference website. The deadline for proposals is 31st March 2017.

Other Key News

Recent Reports