We have entered a new decade, which the United Nations has dubbed the Ocean Decade. Short for UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021-2030 started out with UNESCO’s online global event called ‘A Brave New Ocean’.
What is the Ocean Decade?
Although the marine realm is the largest component of the Earth’s system, much of the ocean is now seriously degraded, with changes and losses in the structure and function from marine systems. As the human population grows, so will humankind’s stressful impact on the ocean.
The United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide for sustainable development of our oceans in line with the SDGs.
The Decade (2021-2030) will be supported by the Ocean Decade Alliance, a group of leaders who are committed to solving global ocean challenges through the framework of the Decade.
What can the private sector do?
The corporate sector is well-positioned to maximize emerging ocean business opportunities in a sustainable manner by building on their investments in advancing ocean science. Better ocean science may lead to various benefits for the private sector, including cost savings, operational efficiency, increased market shares, predictable and stable supply chains, better relationships with stakeholders, improved access to markets and customers, as well as attracting new investments.
Concrete actions for companies
Companies can incorporate one or more goals of the Seven Decade Outcomes in their business strategy. They can initiate or Participate in Co-Design of a Decade Action. An action could take various forms and range in scale, involve a diverse group of stakeholders where respective interests can be aligned in a collaborative and transformative process to deliver solutions for a sustainable and healthy ocean.
Large companies could join the Ocean Decade Alliance. The Alliance will provide a highly visible platform to catalyse large-scale commitments towards the Decade through networking, resource mobilization, and influence. It will provide a mechanism to organize members’ commitments and resources. Businesses can also follow the Decade activities, and convene or attend international events.
Here are two examples of how private sector players are collaborating and sharing knowledge for healthier marine ecosystems as well as business gains.
1. Global seafloor mapping
Seabed2030 is a multi-stakeholder project launched at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference led by The Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) and formally supported by more than 100 organizations. The project aims to map the world’s seafloor by the year 2030 and to compile high-resolution bathymetric data (i.e., knowledge on the depth and shape of the seafloor) into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map. With numerous partners, Seabed2030 will cover the unsurveyed 85% of the ocean. The work will contribute to safe navigation, disaster management, weather prediction, biodiversity conservation, and resource development.
For the private sector, participation in Seabed2030 is a corporate investment in both risk mitigation and growth. For example, Fugro, the world’s leading geo-data specialist, is taking a leadership role in this project, which includes implementing a large-scale crowdsourcing bathymetric data campaign on the unsurveyed portions of the seafloor. Fugro believes that their leadership role in Seabed2030 provides a myriad of benefits such as fostering shareholder, client, and employee engagement; strengthening their sectoral and cross-sectoral network of experts; establishing leadership recognition and brand promotion at a global scale; and the creation of business opportunities.
2. Ocean observation
Copernicus is a 20-year-old multi-stakeholder and a multifaceted EU space programme that freely provides timely, comprehensive, and scientifically validated data based on satellite and in situ observations as well as models with vast space and time coverage of the Earth. Mercator Ocean International (MOi), a nonprofit European company fulfilling a general interest mission on global ocean forecasting implements the marine service of Copernicus with more than 100 partners, providing the latest information on the ocean worldwide in real-time.
The data and information offered by the Copernicus Marine Service on a free, open and fully verified basis are essential for business operations. The services contribute to sectors such as coastal zone monitoring, water quality, marine energy, safety and navigation, polar monitoring, education, marine policies, science and climate. In the overall design and development of this capacity, MOi is proactively partnering with international programmes such as the Global Ocean Observing System for observations, OceanPredict for modelling and monitoring capacities and GEO Blue Planet for user engagement. As part of the Ocean Decade, MOi plans to devote, with Copernicus, significant resources to advancing ocean prediction capabilities as well as to improving user services and increasing their user base.