It’s time to supercharge our actions to protect and regenerate the ocean, and what better moment than World Ocean Day? I’m thrilled to share our plans for a new partnership between Ocean Unite and one of the Virgin family’s latest additions, Virgin Voyages, to push for protecting 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030.
The ocean and the planet has never been at greater risk. Just a few weeks ago, the UN released a truly terrifying report on the state of life on Earth. A million species are at risk of extinction. That’s about a quarter of all lifeforms on the planet, rising to over a third for marine mammals and nearly a third for sharks. We’ve already lost half of all live coral reefs and the rest will disappear within decades as the ocean becomes hotter and more acidic. Plastic pollution has increased ten-fold in a single generation.
Unfortunately we’d better brace ourselves for more bad news. A Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate being completed later this year will chart the unprecedented changes happening as our seas and frozen places heat up. The Silent Spring foretold in my youth is looming larger than ever over land, sea and ice. But these warnings must be a call to action, not despair.
If we want our seas vibrant not silent we need transformational change. That’s the clear message of the UN report. And that change is within our power. The climate crisis is the third most destructive force behind the biodiversity crisis, but the top two are our use of land and ocean and our direct exploitation of its species. For the ocean that means excessive and destructive fishing, and pollution from agriculture, mining, shipping and plastics. These are all things we can do something about, and relatively fast. We can and we must, because the threats to the ocean are not some future prophesy, they are endangering people, livelihoods and nature now.
Business has a key role to play in this action, but not business-as-usual; a new kind of business driven by purpose and partnership as well as profit. At Virgin Voyages, we are determined to lead the way in the quest for a healthy, protected, regenerating ocean. And at the heart of Ocean Unite and Virgin Voyage’s joint mission to supercharge ocean protection is our 30×30 vision: the goal to strongly protect 30 percent of the ocean by 2030.
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©Cover image from Discovery