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The Ocean is in crisis, but the tide is changing

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The Ocean. Home to incredible creatures. Source of food for millions of people around the world. It is Our Ocean. Although, is it really?


By: Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF’s Mediterranean Marine Initiative and Karoline Andaur, Deputy CEO at WWF-Norway

© Frédéric Basmayousse

Over time, the ocean has been badly mistreated, used as a garbage dump while we harvested as if it was a bank of unlimited resources. We have regarded the ocean as something to exploit however we wanted and without any consequences. But we are quickly realising that the damage we are doing to the ocean, we are doing to ourselves.

We, Karoline and I, were part of the WWF delegation at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta, hosted by the European Union on October 5 and 6. Our Ocean is a conference that unites global leaders that care about ocean conservation and commit to improve ocean health.

Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF’s Mediterranean Marine Initiative is second from the right, and Karoline Andaur, Deputy CEO at WWF-Norway, is third from the right.

Our Ocean, now at its fourth edition, was opened this year by HRH The Prince of Wales who eloquently said ”[…] we are entirely dependent on our small blue planet,” followed by Dr Sylvia Earle who pointed out “with knowing comes caring… Everyone can make a difference”.

At Our Ocean, we felt the sense of urgency for changing the current development model of ocean management and we are pleased to see that it has finally reached the top of the political agenda, both at the regional and global level. This is unprecedented.

The Our Ocean conference focused on pollution, fisheries, marine protected areas, maritime security and blue economy, catalyzing over 437 highly impressive, tangible and measurable commitments from governments, NGOs and private corporations (including Microsoft, Unilever, Procotor & Gamble, Sky, and many more). Together these announcements totalled euro 7.27 billion in financial pledges (the previous 3 conferences totaled EUR 6B) and over 2.55 million km2 of additional marine protected areas. As a major novelty, the 2017 conference for the first time mobilized at scale the business community in the conservation of Our Ocean with corporate leaders making over 100 commitments.

The backdrop of the conference was the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. A sea that plays a fundamental role in the region’s economy. At the conference, WWF presented a new report that proposes a set of recommendations to promote a sustainable blue economy and to urgently preserve the Mediterranean’s invaluable natural assets that are quickly eroding.

At WWF, we were incredibly pleased with the work that the European Commission and the many actors in Malta did for the ocean. There is no other way to bend the curve and change the present for a better future. We both left Malta believing that there is a real case for ocean optimism. As John Kerry said, in closing the conference, “The Ocean is in crisis, but the tide is finally changing“.

© JC del Olmo -WWF Spain

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