Indispensable Ocean - Blue Ribbon Panel Report

Posted on 16 October 2013  | 
Washington, USA: A unique panel of business, government, conservation and academic leaders has agreed a global strategy for aligning ocean health and human well-being.

The Blue Ribbon Panel, which includes 21 global experts from 16 countries, emphasizes that without action to turn around the declining health of the ocean, the consequences for economies, communities and ecosystems will be irreversible.
Recent science from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean has intensified the focus on declining ocean health.

“Ocean change is climate change and vice versa,” said panel chair and ocean adviser to the IPCC Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. “With looming threats of rising sea levels, warmer waters and a growing human population we need healthy oceans and coasts to mitigate climate change, feed billions and protect coastal communities.”

But there is good news: solutions exist that benefit both oceans and economies, according to the panel’s report.

Convened by the World Bank to advise the Global Partnership for Oceans, the panel includes high-level players ranging from CEOs of some of the largest seafood companies in the world - including Thai Union Frozen Products, Bumble Bee Foods and High Liner Foods - to government officials and prominent marine conservationists.

According to the panel, fragmented approaches that fail to consider social, political, economic and ecological relationships will fail to meet the complex challenges facing ocean health. The report calls for an integrated approach to ocean investment and emphasizes the essential role of public-private partnerships.  

The panel agreed that the Global Partnership for Oceans is a platform that brings together the multi-stakeholder support, technical expertise and finance needed to change the course on oceans.

“Getting to healthy oceans is a global challenge that needs the concentrated effort of big and small business, government, science and the people,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. “Though they brought very different world views, everyone on this panel agreed that we can’t keep going with business-as-usual and all parts of society must be part of the solution.”

The panel agreed there is no silver bullet to resolving urgent ocean challenges. It proposes these five principles to ensure effective GPO investments:
  • sustainable livelihoods, social equity and food security
  • a healthy ocean
  • effective governance systems
  • long-term viability
  • capacity building and innovation
The Panel’s principle-based strategy provides an approach to prioritize where, when and how the GPO can take action with high impact. The panel recommends that the principles be incorporated into all levels of reform - from fisheries management to incentives for pollution reduction to habitat restoration.

“Probably what impressed me most is that every member of this group was prepared to put aside their differences to work towards solutions to the problems affecting our oceans. Just goes to show what could be possible on the scale of the Global Partnership for Oceans.” John Tanzer, Marine Director, WWF International.
Manombo Bay, Toliara barrier reef, Southwest Madagascar. Though these reef systems are extensive, they are under enormous pressure from human and natural factors such as overfishing and sedimentation.
© Xavier Vincke / WWF Madagascar Enlarge
Mangrove reforested area. Philippines
Mangrove reforested area. Philippines
© Jurgen Freund / WWF-Canon Enlarge
Papua New Guinea islanders paddle out their dugout canoe to go fishing with a gill net. New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
© Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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