This week, I am thrilled to be traveling to Oslo, Norway, where several of my Ocean Conservancy colleagues and I will convene with hundreds of other ocean experts and advocates for the sixth edition of the Our Ocean Conference. Started in 2014 by then-United States Secretary of State John Kerry, the annual conference solicits measurable commitments from governments, corporations and NGOs to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing our ocean.
In past years, for instance, Our Ocean is where we and our partners at Circulate Capital announced a $100 million fund dedicated to help stem the tide of ocean plastic pollution, by investing in collection systems in parts of the world that need it most. Our Ocean is also where we announced that New Zealand had joined the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification.
As amazing as it has been in years past, I’m especially excited about this year in Norway. This is the furthest north the conference has been held, and while that may seem like an unusual distinction to make, it means that the Arctic can truly be front and center.
As you might already know, the Arctic is a unique ocean ecosystem, home to incredible animals like polar bears and beluga whales, just to name two of my favorites. Unfortunately, the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet; and as the ice melts, that opens the area for increased industrial activity, from oil and gas, to fishing, to shipping. While this may benefit certain commercial sectors, it poses unique challenges for conservation—and unique opportunities, as we are able to build the rules from the ground up to protect this important habitat.
We are excited to see what others commit to in the next few days to protect the Arctic—and we have some news of our own that our CEO, Janis Searles Jones, plans to share on stage.
Beyond the Artic, this is also the first Our Ocean Conference since Ocean Conservancy became the lead partner of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, or GGGI, earlier this year. The GGGI brings together governments, members of the seafood industry, conservationists, and others to address the threat of abandoned, lost or derelict fishing gear—also known as ghost gear. The GGGI team is already in Oslo getting ready for a number of exciting announcements that they will make from a special side event on the second day of the conference.
And speaking of side events, we are also excited to partner with National Geographic and Circulate Capital for an official side event on how to finance solutions to ocean plastic pollution. There, our own Chever Voltmer, director of our plastics initiative, will unveil our latest report, Plastics Policy Playbook: Strategies for a Plastic-Free Ocean. Based on desk-side research, in-country workshops and robust financial modeling, it’s an in-depth guide to some of the most impactful public- and private-sector interventions available to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution in parts of the world most affected by the crisis.
As you can see, we have a busy few days ahead of us! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@OurOcean) and keep an eye on the #OurOcean and #TeamOcean hashtags for the latest.
Hade (bye, in Norwegian) for now—more from us soon!