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New partnership to protect $2.5trn ocean economy

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and University of California Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute have today announced a partnership to improve the health of the world’s oceans and maritime resources.

20 JAN 2017 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
More effort needed to manage 'crisis' ocean degradation ©Shutterstock
More effort needed to manage 'crisis' ocean degradation ©Shutterstock

It is estimated that oceans generate goods and services worth $2.5trn (£2.03trn) per year – equivalent to the seventh-largest economy in the world – but are under threat from pollution and over-fishing.

Reversing the decline in ocean health is also critical to addressing climate change according to the WEF, and is a UN sustainable development goal, which this new partnership intends to help it achieve.

“We need to redouble our collective effort to manage the crisis we face from ocean degradation and illegal fishing,” WEF head of public-private partnership and executive committee member, Dominic Waughray, said.

“This partnership will harness the potential of public-private cooperation and the fourth industrial revolution to help the international community meet the ocean sustainable development goal.”

Oceans along with coastal and marine resources play an essential role in human wellbeing and economic development worldwide, according to the WEF, providing livelihoods, tourism benefits, subsistence and income.

In addition, oceans help regulate the environment by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as protecting people living in coastal areas (37% of the population in 2010) from the risk of flooding and erosion.

However, these are extremely vulnerable to pollution, climate change, environmental degradation and overfishing, with scientists warning six months ago of ‘unprecedented’ marine extinction due to the hunting of large species, which could have “devastating consequences for ocean ecology”.

This new partnership intends to address the current lack of adequate measuring and monitoring of ocean activities by bringing together public, private and civil society sector stakeholders.

Salesforce CEO Marc R. Benioff, said: “The health of our oceans is critical to the fate of our planet and should be a top priority for all business and world leaders.

“Building coalitions like this – among leaders in science, business, society and government – will be critical as we fight for the future of our oceans.”