The Time to Focus on the Ocean is Now
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Leading voices come together for The Ocean Race Summits #2 – online – to say the solutions are there for meaningful change. Now is the time to make it happen.
Ocean health is critical for the long-term well-being of the planet and developing winning strategies to implement science-based solutions is the best way forward towards restoring our ocean.
That was the message from The Ocean Race Summits #2, the latest in a series of events developed in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, the Founding Sustainability Partner of The Ocean Race.
In response to the COVID19 pandemic, which made an in-person event impossible, the Summit was streamed online, hosted live from The Hague on Wednesday afternoon.
The Ocean Race Summits #2 featured many more topics and speakers and a full replay is available below.
The event brought together a diverse range of international leaders and experts like Lord Sebastian Coe, Olympic gold medalist and Head of World Athletics; Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and Assistant Director General of UNESCO; H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco; Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean; Minna Epps, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme; and Charlie Enright, co-founder 11th Hour Racing Team; among many others (see the full list here).
“The future of our seas after the (health) crisis could be quickly forgotten if we go back to the same patterns as before,” said H.S.H. Prince Albert II. “We need to take advantage of the situation and make a concerted effort for the ocean, without delay.”
This was one of the themes of the Summit, with a focus on winning strategies to create action for change.
Youth were represented by the Dutch wavemakers, a youth environmental group, whose members joined as panelists in the Action Labs, while co-host Niek Roosen, a social media influencer, actor and WWF ambassador engaged Summit participants with polls and commentary, bringing the content to life.
Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is a leading researcher, author and proponent of Blue Mind, which shows the science behind how being near the water improves our health. Realising the importance of this relationship with the ocean, he says, can be a key driver of change.
“We want everybody to understand the ocean gives us so much in terms of ecological and economic benefits. But it also gives us these massive, measurable, critically important emotional benefits,” he said during a panel on The Science of Action. “When we properly value the ocean for all of that it gives us, then I think we’ll start to repair what’s broken.”
Peter Thomson, the United Nations Special Envoy for the Ocean, told the Summit progress is being made towards restoring ocean health through the internationally agreed UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but consistent effort is needed.
“We have to understand that our ocean is in trouble and that it’s within our means to fix that and reverse that trend… All of our governments have agreed to sustainably use the ocean’s resources,” he said, referring to the SDGs. “But we must stay faithful to implementing them.”
Minna Epps, the Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme, agreed having targets to aim for can be one of the keys to achieving change. But also important is a shared focus on what we should prioritise as a community.
“Let’s actually take this opportunity to stop, recharge, rethink and refocus on what we want the world to look like,” she said, in reference to the current health crisis. “We want the world we find to look different than the one we left behind. And I think it’s never been more evident the importance of people and planet and today we have that opportunity.”
“There are a few things that have come out of this pandemic,” Lord Sebastian Coe, an Olympic gold medalist and the head of World Athletics, noted. “Firstly, the planet is breathing more easily. You look at our large cities and we have reversed some of the air cleanliness for the first time in 40 years… People are talking about the climate, the environment, ecological issues in a way they weren’t beforehand.”