World Ocean Summit – need for speed

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 8 March 2019

Over 700 attendees including 65 speakers from over 50 countries have been in Abu Dhabi this week at the sixth World Ocean Summit.

Abu Dhabi Skyline
© Neildodhia / Pixabay

The summit has brought about an immense amount of energy and focus on the critical issues pertaining to our ocean.

Charlie Goddard,
Editorial director - The Economist

It’s the first time the event, part of the Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative, has been hosted in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates is now considered to be a global maritime transport and trade hub that just 50 years ago was small group fishing villages. It’s blue economy of fisheries, maritime transport, renewable energy and tourism, makes up 68% of the country’s gross domestic product.

The overarching theme for the summit was ‘Building Bridges’ and delegates, from policy, business, finance, NGO’s, conservation, science and academia, heard how the next generation has a powerful role in spearheading necessary change. With 2018 being such a big year for the ocean in terms of public awareness, guests were told that now is the is time to mobilise this interest and implement the solutions as the 2020 deadline for United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 – to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources - nears.

Solutions that were identified include developing new technologies, engaging the financial community and creating robust governance frameworks.

“The idea of a sustainable ocean economy has truly come of age. Each year at the summit, we hear about the urgent problems facing our ocean. This year, we have begun to hear about many of the solutions which are now beginning to take shape,” said Charlie Goddard, editorial director, the Economist. “Cellular agriculture, artificial intelligence and alternative fuels are all exciting new technologies that will help shape the blue economy. Innovative financing mechanisms and international partnerships will underpin most of these projects.”

“The summit has brought about an immense amount of energy and focus on the critical issues pertaining to our ocean. It has enhanced our understanding and really set the tone for the way forward, especially on financing, blue technology, aquaculture and plastic pollution. The level of engagement and dialogue has been phenomenal.”

During the summit, the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD) announced a new fisheries recovery plan and reaffirmed its commitment to tackling plastic pollution in the marine environment.

“We now need to leverage this momentum and mobilise these ideas at scale and pace that can bring about a profound shift in the way things stand today,” said Razan
Khalifa Al Mubarak, the EAD’s Managing Director.

H.E. Rashid Abdul Karim Al Baloushi, Acting Undersecretary of UAE’s Department of Economic Development said: “It is vital that there is a concerted effort among various government entities to promote the conservation of our oceans through initiatives that are economically viable while addressing ocean pollution. The outcomes of this event will certainly go a long way within the UAE, throughout the region and the world, towards our common quest to contribute to the global efforts of saving our oceans.”

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