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WELCOME TO THE NAVIGATOR!
It’s nearly World Ocean Day and The Navigator is ready to make waves with calls for action to advance Ocean health from the Arctic to Antarctic, Reykjavík to Rome – via the G7 Summit-on-Sea in Cornwall and some naming and shaming of the true villains fueling the global plastic crisis. Getting the Ocean to the top of the international agenda at this critical juncture for shaping our future is the name of the game in 2021.
On a more personal level, the thoughts of everyone at Ocean Unite remain with our dear friend, colleague, OU Network Member, democratically elected Speaker of Parliament and former Maldives President, Mohamed Nasheed, and all those affected by the shocking attack on 7th May. We are relieved to hear that President Nasheed is responding well to treatment and send him and the other four people injured our best wishes for their swift recovery and rehabilitation.
In more good news: Chris Bertish, an adventurer who spent 93 days travelling across the Atlantic alone and unassisted on a stand-up paddle board (just stop and think on that for a few seconds), has joined the Ocean Unite Network. Drawing on his successes as a big wave surfer, adventurer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Chris has another plan up his sleeve involving an even more daring feat that we are looking forward to sharing in the near future. Welcome aboard Chris!
Finally, Dr Jane Lubchenco, Ocean Unite Network member extraordinaire, was appointed deputy director for climate and environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Congratulations Jane, no pressure, but all our hopes and dreams are with you!
SEEN FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE –
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
Happy World Ocean Day
June kicks off with a global festival of virtual celebrations of our blue planet. First up, on 5th June, it’s World Environment Day, inviting the world to “reimagine, recreate, restore” and make peace with nature by joining #GenerationRestoration, with a week of events beginning on 1st June to launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. But pace yourself, because 8th June is World Ocean Day – our annual appointment to collectively stop and reflect on the state of our seas and what needs to change. This year the UN is highlighting The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods with an all-day live-streamed event featuring dozens of thought-leaders, celebrities, community voices, entrepreneurs and experts, culminating in a Concert for the Ocean. The World Ocean Day network of NGOs and youths are uniting around the call to protect 30% of our Ocean by 2030, and have developed lots of assets that you can tap into as well.
Ocean Unite invites you to make your own WOD splash while helping us grow the global 30×30 movement. All you need to do is create a FREE personalized GIF for email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter and share it with your friends using the hashtag #Love30x30. Our partner 36Pix has created an animated GIF that anyone can individualize with their own photo to promote 30×30 – and they will make a donation to Ocean Unite for every share! Be a part of the WOD 2021 story and “GIF” something back to the Ocean!
But you don’t have to wait ‘til the 8th to dive in. Get a head start on 1st June by tuning in to the High-Level Debate on the Ocean and SDG 14 being convened by the President of the UN General Assembly. As we all know, listening is great, words are really important, but then we all need to drive action for a resilient, regenerated Ocean.
G7 meet by the sea – but will they Listen to the Ocean?
Leaders of the world’s richest nations will gather – in real life! – in Carbis Bay, Cornwall from 11th-13th June as the UK hosts the G7 Summit at a critical moment for all our futures. They face a packed agenda, but with the Summit vital for generating political support ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in 6 months, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is giving tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity top billing among 4 main priorities. For The Navigator – and a global consortium of organizations and scientists – there is just one question: will the G7 really #ListenToTheOcean? Will they listen to science and put the Ocean at the center of global action to tackle the climate crisis, biodiversity decline and the post-COVID recovery? That is the clear message put to the G7 in a Ministerial Letter signed by organizations from across the world, and in a Statement issued by Ocean scientists from all G7 countries setting out Seven Asks for the G7. But will the sea be just the backdrop to the inevitable G7 Summit group photo – or will we finally see some strong G7 Ocean action?
A week ahead of the Summit, the signs are pretty promising. Following an intense meeting on 20th & 21th May, the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers released a Communiqué that captured headlines and triggered ripples of optimistic excitement. Described as a breakthrough landmark by campaigners and scientists, the Communiqué strongly reaffirms the commitment to “ambitious and accelerated efforts” to limit global heating to 1.5C and – for the first time – signs all 7 nations up to the 30×30 goal of “conserving or protecting at least 30% of global land and at least 30% of the global Ocean by 2030”.
And that’s not all. The Ministers also committed to: a swift and effective conclusion to WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations; ending IUU fishing; strengthening support for the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA); expeditious conclusion of the negotiation of an ambitious legally binding instrument on marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including a mechanism to establish High Seas MPAs; and even united behind the #CallOnCCAMLR to establish a representative system of MPAs around Antarctica. Sounds like the Ministers have been listening to the Ocean – and reading The Navigator! – now we need these commitments confirmed and concretized at the G7 Summit itself. And the leaders need to go even further if they are to really put the Ocean where it belongs – at the heart of global action to build a better, fairer future. Don’t just gaze out to sea – Listen to the Ocean!
Antarctic Treaty Turns 60 – Ocean protection is the perfect gift
France is hosting the 43rd annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) from 14th-24th June for signatory countries to discuss environmental protection, climate change, polar science, tourism, governance, and any pressing developments in Antarctic diplomacy. The ATCM meets every year, but this time is extra special: it’s not every day that the treaty that governs everything south of 60 degrees South Latitude celebrates 60 years since it entered into force. And what do you give one of the world’s most successful international agreements for their 60th birthday – especially one that protected the continent for peace and science? How about 4 million km2 of Southern Ocean protections?
The ATCM is a perfect opportunity for states to #CallOnCCAMLR – which is the part of the Antarctic Treaty System that governs fisheries and marine protections – to make it happen later this year by agreeing to designate 3 large MPAs in 2021. That’s what Ocean Unite will highlight at the Blue Water Summit on 7th June, where we have been invited to hold a virtual panel on The Future of Antarctica. Register here to join Ashlan and Philippe Cousteau, Professor Cassandra Brooks, and writer/photographer/filmmaker John Weller talking about Antarctic wonders and threats and get an update on the #CallOnCCAMLR campaign.
Plunging new depths – extreme expedition maps the deepest Ocean
The Five Deeps Expedition is the first to map the deepest places in Earth’s 5 Ocean basins to a modern standard, covering an area the size of France and including an area the size of Finland where the seafloor had never been seen before. Among their discoveries are over 100 new underwater mountains and the first precision mapping of the South Sandwich Trench. This exciting work is helping to reverse the woeful reality that roughly 80% of the global Ocean floor remains to be surveyed to a high standard and is a vital contributor to the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project to compile a full-Ocean depth map by the end of the decade. Better seafloor maps are essential for navigation, laying underwater cables and pipelines, fisheries management, biodiversity conservation, and understanding the Ocean currents and vertical mixing of water that play a pivotal role in moving heat around our planet and can help us forecast climate change.
OCEAN SIGNALS– SHORT OCEAN ANNOUNCEMENTS
WAVES ON THE HORIZON –
WHAT'S COMING UP?
G20 Environment Ministers' Meeting: People, Planet, Prosperity
Ahead of the G20 Summit in Rome on 30th & 31st October, an Environment, Climate and Energy Ministerial Meeting will be held on 22nd-23rd July in Naples. The goal will be to advance collaborative actions to take care of people and our planet, while ensuring a strong, inclusive, sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are already calls for the G20 – which represents 80% of the global economy – to match the measures recently agreed by the G7 environment ministers to reduce carbon emissions and limit global heating to 1.5C – and to add in strong Ocean action.
International Coral Reef Symposium – helping corals get a grade A
On 19th-23rd July, the 14th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) will meet virtually to develop science-based solutions to present and future coral reef challenges, present the latest scientific findings and ideas, and provide a platform to build essential bridges between coral reef science, conservation, politics, management, and the public.
The ICRS brings together the world’s leading coral reef scientists, policy makers and managers to exchange current knowledge and help guide international and national policies in the conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs. With coral reefs globally exposed to unprecedented anthropogenic pressures, this event has never been more important. Because, through cooperation there is still hope for healthy reefs.
A recent report shows how large-scale interventions could delay the decline of the Great Barrier Reef and last year the International Coral Reef Initiative adopted a Recommendation for the inclusion of coral reefs within the CBD Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Central to the post-2020 recommendations are the ‘Five A’s of Coral Reef Indicator’: accessibility, accountability, assessing progress, adaptive action, and guiding alignment. Register for the 14th ICRS before 4th July here.
A LOOK BACK AT WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING
Arctic Council marks a milestone but fails to act on black carbon
On 20th May, Iceland hosted the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting both in person in Reykjavík and online. The 8 Arctic Foreign Ministers signed the Reykjavik Declaration, reaffirming the Council’s commitment to maintain peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic region and asserting the importance of immediately addressing climate change – more vital than ever in light of a new report that the climate crisis is behind a drastic drop in Arctic wildlife populations. In recognition of the Council’s 25th anniversary, the Ministers also adopted the Council’s first ever Strategic Plan to reflect the shared values, goals and joint aspirations of the Arctic States and Indigenous Permanent Participants and guide their work for the next decade. At the end of the meeting, Iceland handed over the two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council to the Russian Federation, having used their time as Chair to prioritize the marine environment, climate and green energy solutions, Arctic people and communities, and strengthening the Arctic Council.
But not everyone is happy at the outcome. Ahead of the gathering in Iceland, the Clean Arctic Alliance, an international coalition of 22 non-profit organizations, called on all Arctic Foreign Ministers to demonstrate global leadership by agreeing to cut black carbon emissions from shipping and take effective action to secure the Arctic-wide elimination of heavy fuel oil. The same group responded to the Reykjavík Declaration by challenging the Arctic Council’s failure to commit to reduce black carbon emissions from Arctic shipping, while welcoming its plans to “update” the black carbon target agreed in 2017. The Alliance was left frustrated that Arctic governments had missed a key opportunity to “take urgent action to address black carbon emissions from shipping in the Arctic, which saw an 85% increase between 2015-2019.”
Virtual Ocean Dialogues – connecting communities for Ocean action
The 2nd edition of the Virtual Ocean Dialogues was held on 25th & 26th May to foster inclusive, constructive and practical dialogue on the global Ocean action agenda. This year the dialogues focused on the critical importance of mainstreaming the Ocean in upcoming multilateral international forums and summits – from climate and biodiversity to food and science – and advancing action ahead of key international moments change. Topics included Leveraging the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Ocean and Biodiversity in the Run-Up to COP15, Trade and the Environment: An Ocean of Opportunity, and Ocean-Based Climate Solutions: Tapping the Ocean’s Potential for COP26 Success. Follow #OceanDialogues to join the conversation. Asserting that Ocean action is climate action, Lord Zac Goldsmith, acted on the G7 Environment communique’s commitment to strengthen support for the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance by announcing that the UK is joining Canada as a full member of the Alliance.
New report unmasks the real plastic supervillains
A shocking new study reveals that just 20 companies are responsible for more than half of all the single-use plastic clogging up our rivers and seas and helping to drive the climate crisis. But these plastic superspreaders are not the companies whose logos appear on the bags and bottles that litter our beaches. The Plastic Waste Makers Index – with its detailed lists of producers, banks, and countries – highlights the root of the world’s plastic pollution problem: oil companies and those that bankroll them. It provides an unprecedented glimpse into the small number of petrochemicals companies – and their financial backers – that generate almost all single-use plastic waste across the world. In fact, just 100 companies are the source of 90% of global single-use plastic production, with US energy giant ExxonMobil topping the list, closely followed by US chemicals company Dow and China’s Sinopec. And almost 60% of the commercial finance behind the plastic waste crisis comes from just 20 global banks, led by Barclays, HSBC, and Bank of America.
Why is this revelation so important? Today, 72% of all plastic in the US ends up in landfills – despite many consumers’ best efforts – and plastic production is expected to grow by 30% in the next 5 years. But thanks in part to marketing and lobbying by plastic producers, we have been shining the spotlight on what the average citizen needs to do rather than the real cause of this plastic tragedy. For decades, consumers have been told they could change the tide of plastic pollution by reducing, reusing, and recycling. But while we all sorted our bottles and carried cotton shopping bags around, companies and governments failed to adequately invest in doing the same or investing in plastic alternatives.
The Plastic Waste Index highlights how the global plastics industry has operated with minimal regulation and limited transparency for far too long. As the chairman of the Minderoo Foundation, one the organizations behind the study, insists: “With our oceans choking and plastic impacting our health, we need to see firm intervention from producers, governments and the world of finance to break the cycle of inaction.” For more details, check out the interactive version of the Index.