This week we are on-site in Lisbon to participate in the UN Ocean Conference. We have been accredited to be in the main arena and will be able to listen to what the politicians and decision-makers are discussing. The theme for the conference goes hand in hand with what we in Ocean Community are aiming at: Activate your Ocean passion! After the first day, we have made some observations that we would like to share with you.
Time to plan and act
Since the theme of the UN Ocean Conference is: Scaling up Ocean Action Based on Science and Innovation for the Implementation of Goal 14: Stocktaking, Partnerships and Solutions, the focus is on planning and providing for activities to reach the goal. Previous initiatives and conferences have at best resulted in some vague statements to work towards the goal. This time it is the right time and place to act and activate. To do these commitments are fundamental and we saw that there are highly ranked officials on site from many countries who would be able to have the mandate to make such commitments. We will follow the discussions taking place during the week to get a better understanding of if this will be the case. During the closing of the conference on Friday afternoon, we will get the final receipt on if this has happened.
Science, Innovation, and Partnerships
During the day there has been said repeatedly that the key to meeting the ocean and environment’s challenges is to collaborate and use science as a foundation to innovate. Innovation is needed to get us where we need to be. We will not be able to reach the goals without innovation and also technology. To use what we already have and know will only at best stop the worst effects of climate change and give us a world worse than we have now. Since we in Ocean Community are providing connections, knowledge, and innovation opportunities and support we truly feel that we are on the right path. We have, during the day, reconnected with some of our partners, coaches, and jury panel members for the first time IRL. Even if digital meetings are very good, nothing beats meeting in person to discuss, reflect and get creative together. We have also connected with new people and organizations who are now our new friends of Ocean Community. We are so looking forward to connecting after the conference!
Conserve and Sustainable use of the Ocean
We need to have multiple thoughts in our minds when working with Ocean challenges and opportunities. Whilst we of course primarily need to conserve and save the Ocean we also need to address as many as possible of the other UN SDGs. By leveraging the Ocean resources, we will be able to do just that. During the UN Ocean Conference, this has been addressed in many of the events and speeches we have heard during the day. One concrete idea that was presented is to grow kelp forests outside Lisbon. By doing that we are able to protect the fragile shoreline, contribute to de-carbonization, provide oxygen, provide for a diversified marine life, use the kelp as nutrition for humans as well as create new job opportunities. A real win-win-win-situation!
Need for new thinking when investing
At the end of the first day, we attended some events that addressed how to finance relevant and necessary initiatives and entrepreneurs. What stood out was that it is easy to still invest in the known and old subjects such as ports. This is a known matter and the established methods for investments can still be used and relied on. However, since we need to innovate and touch upon new grounds to reach the goals there also needs to be new and innovative ways of looking at investments. One thing in particular that needs to be addressed is the time perspective. When investing in solutions that have a high impact on the environment means breaking new grounds and the pay-back time will usually be much longer and more uncertain than currently. To ask for high yields may not either be the case. So, investors will need to reconsider and think new when investing. But we can no longer go about as before, we don’t have time to postpone any longer. We need to act now.