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Ocean Community at UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon - Day 2 & 3

It is now finally time to sum up day 2 and 3 at the UN Ocean Conference. In this blog post, we will tell you all about blue economy hubs, myths about aquaculture, and sustainable energy sources in Costa Rica, happy reading!

Day 2

Open innovation as a strategy for sustainable economic growth

Day 2 at the UN Ocean Conference started with an interesting event about AspBAN - The Atlantic Smart Ports Blue Acceleration Network (AspBAN). Ana Pinela, as the project leader for AspBAN, introduced the 3-year long project that started during the covid pandemic. This project aims at developing a dynamic acceleration platform and hence helps EU Atlantic ports work as blue economy hubs. This project is especially interesting since there is a real business case and funding in place. As mentioned before this is one of the biggest challenges for the Ocean economy: to find the business cases and pay back within a reasonable timeframe. Ports are one of the primary interfaces with the ocean, which means they will play a strategic role as launchpads for the new generation of blue companies.

Ideas, myths, and doubts about aquaculture

One event today addressed the myths and truths about Aquaculture. The goal is to support the substitution of open sea fishing to reach 90% aquacultured fish on our plates and only 10% from traditional small-scale fisheries.

This is good for the climate and much more sustainable than traditional big-scale fishing. However, what should have been discussed more is the animal welfare perspective. The only comment on that was that the aquaculture industry aims to give fewer antibiotics to the fish than today.

But let's take one step at a time. Good ideas exist and it is great to see some of them here at the conference, so good luck to you for taking one step in the right direction!

Auditorium, Official conference

At the UN Ocean Conference we visited the Auditorium and the Official conference during the afternoon to hear what the politicians had to say about the subject: Managing, protecting, conserving, and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems. Under this title, the participating countries’ representatives presented what they have done since the last UN Ocean Conference 2017 and their plans for the 2030 agenda.

The focus is on stopping plastics from ending up in the ocean, pollution, and the protection of coastal environments. In addition, banning illegal fishing and getting to zero emissions from the transportation industry are of course also focus areas.

Some countries had a quite low-key approach where there was any evidence of urgency or burning platform whilst others were more alarmed and raised their voices. Some countries pointed out that it is really strange that we all have agreed that the most urgent issue globally is the climate, but yet we don’t take it seriously enough. A challenge for the ocean is a challenge for the climate. The Palestine representative even said that the future is no longer uncertain – it is known! We now have scientific proof enough that we humans are the main reason for the state of the ocean and climate change.

No summary of what was said during these 3 hours was provided strangely enough, so maybe that will come on Friday at the closing event – fingers crossed.

Smart ocean(s), deep ocean tech, ocean data today & in the future

The last event for the day was a very interesting one with a panel discussion on the need for Ocean data and how to leverage it. The discussion focused on how technology plays a crucial role in the Blue Economy and how Smart Oceans are critical to speed up impactful solutions.

Data is crucial not only to understanding what is happening in the Ocean but also for setting targets and measuring. It is astonishing how we can know so little about our ocean that covers 70% of the earth’s surface when we already know so much about space and other planets.

At the end of the event, we were provided with some cheering-up words from Costa Rica which has received prices for their environmental work. Already 98% of Costa Rica’s energy is from sustainable sources. 43% of their land is protected and the goal is to protect an additional 30% by 2030.

Day 3

The Un Ocean Conference is now up to speed. A lot of interesting and prominent persons are entering the stages discussing and showcasing great ideas and initiatives.

Today’s focus for us was on ocean rewilding. We had the great opportunity to listen to Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue, and others from organizations such as Sea Shepherd Global, Blue Marine Foundation and stop Ecocide. A great kudo to you all for keeping up the energy and working with these burning issues!

We were also invited to an evening session at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation where UpLink and Friends of Ocean Action presented their valuable work with the 2nd edition of the Ocean Innovators Platform. This is real action and activities taking place. Amongst the distinguished guests was Prince Albert of Monaco representing Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation and even Isabella Lövin, former deputy prime minister of Sweden.


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