Tomorrow, I and several members of the Ocean Conservancy team will be landing in Malta for the fourth Our Ocean conference. This is my first time attending this renowned event and I’m thrilled — it’s that feeling of pride and excitement that comes when you know you are about to do something or be involved in something truly great, or truly meaningful.
The ocean often has that effect on people. In his opening remarks at the first Our Ocean conference in Washington, D.C. back in 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry — who spearheaded the Our Ocean series — mused on the first time he really understood that “human beings share nothing so completely as the ocean that covers nearly three-quarters of our planet.”
“It was in the early 1970s when the first color pictures of Earth from space were released, the famous blue marble photographs,” he said. “And when you look at those images, you don’t see borders or markers separating one nation from another. You just see big masses of green and sometimes brown surrounded by blue. For me, that image shaped the realization that what has become clichéd and perhaps even taken for granted — not perhaps, is taken for granted — is the degree to which we all share one planet, one ocean.”
It’s that exact feeling and understanding that will bring hundreds of government officials, scientists, advocates, leaders of industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to Malta this week. The theme of the event is “An Ocean for Life,” because whether you are one of the 3 billion or so people whose livelihoods depend on the ocean every single day, or you just like to breathe clean air and drink clean water, the challenges facing the ocean — climate change and acidification, overfishing, marine debris and more — affect each and every single one of us, and we all have to take action.
This year’s conference will focus on six critical areas: climate change, sustainable fisheries, marine protected areas, marine pollution, sustainable blue economy and maritime security. Ocean Conservancy works across many of these, and will be announcing some of our own commitments in the areas of marine pollution as well as supporting our partners working on ocean acidification.
Saħħa (“goodbye” in Maltese) for now!