Singapore, February 24, 2012— A powerful coalition of governments, international organizations, civil society groups and private interests are joining together under the banner of a Global Partnership for Oceans to confront widely documented problems of over-fishing, marine degradation, and habitat loss.
In a keynote speech to be delivered today at The Economist’s World Oceans Summit here, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said the Partnership would bring science, advocacy, the private sector, and international public institutions together to advance mutually agreed goals for healthy and productive oceans.
Underscoring the importance of oceans to the world’s developing economies, Zoellick said: “The world’s oceans are in danger, and the enormity of the challenge is bigger than one country or organization. We need coordinated global action to restore our oceans to health. Together we’ll build on the excellent work already being done to address the threats to oceans, identify workable solutions, and scale them up.”
All the organizations, countries and agencies supporting the Partnership, including the World Bank Group, are already involved in activities to protect the world’s oceans – which provide 15% of the animal protein consumed in the world, millions of jobs, and critical ecosystem services such as climate regulation and carbon storage. The key step is to mobilize around a set of shared goals. This focus will help coordinate activities and mobilize new financial support, working closely with countries, civil society, and the private sector to reverse patterns of degradation and depletion.
Further discussions will help define the new partnership’s specific agenda. These discussions will address improved governance systems around fishing, more marine protected areas, intensified efforts to attack the sources of ocean pollution and degradation as well as improved coastal management for resilience to weather and climate-related threats.
Heading into the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June, ocean health is a key issue. The Global Partnership for Oceans will assist with implementation by supporting countries meeting commitments for improved ocean management.
“Brazil is committed to achieving specific results in conservation and sustainable development of oceans and hopes that Rio+20 will allow all countries to renew commitments made in 1992 with specific new commitments,” said Mr. Francisco Gaetani, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment of Brazil.
Numerous ocean-focused NGOs have expressed support for the new alliance. “As the world’s population grows to 9 billion people by 2050, the demand for food and other resources will double,” said Conservation International Chief Executive Officer Peter Seligmann. “It is in the enlightened self interest of all nations and all communities to wisely steward our oceans. Humanity needs the oceans to thrive. Collaboration is essential.”
President of The Nature Conservancy, Mark Tercek said: “There is an urgent need to scale up the pace of ocean conservation around the world by bringing together a wide range of partners who are vested in the oceans; the World Bank’s leadership and commitment is a huge step forward towards achieving this. This is a tremendous opportunity for countries to realize tangible benefits – jobs, livelihoods, and economic development – by managing their oceans in a way that builds their natural capital.”
Other supporters of the new alliance highlighted the need for improved governance to improve oceans management, and unleash greater private investment in sustainable ocean enterprises.
“Almost all the challenges facing ocean sustainability stem from governance and market failures,” said Andrew Hudson, Head, UNDP Water & Ocean Governance Programme.
“Our experience has been that supporting ocean governance reform at all levels creates an enabling environment that can in turn catalyze sizeable quantities of public and private sector finance to sustain ocean ecosystem services. The Global Partnership for Oceans provides a key means of implementation to scale up proven approaches.”
Private companies like Darden Restaurants – one of the world’s largest seafood purchasers – are supportive of work that mitigates ocean health risk and will support the sustainable health of fisheries for generations to come. “The health of the world’s oceans is critically important. Like so many, we depend on the natural resources the oceans provide and investing in their health helps ensure the long-term viability of those resources,” said Roger Bing, Vice President, Seafood Purchasing, Darden Restaurants.
Support for the Global Partnership for Oceans includes: a number of developed and developing countries and country groupings, including island nations; non-government organizations and advocacy bodies like Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy, Oceana, Rare and World Wildlife Fund (WWF); science bodies like the US’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); industry groups like the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), National Fisheries Institute, and the World Ocean Council whose members rely on sustainable seafood supplies or are dependent on ocean resources; international organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Global Environment Facility, Global Ocean Forum, GRID Arendal (Norway), the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the World Bank Group.