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March 2, 2012

The oceans are everyone’s business


© OCEANA / Cory Wilson


As you may have seen previously on the blog , the World Oceans Summit took place last week in Singapore. Organized by The Economist, it was attended by over 300 people from a range of sectors including universities, governments, international organizations, private sector, NGOs and the press.

It soon became clear that the oceans are a concern for everyone. Largely forgotten since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we can no longer deny our dependence on them. Our health depends on theirs. If they get sick, so will we. While the importance of the marine environment has constantly been ignored, this is changing. Not only do more and more people recognize the need to act, but increasingly they understand that everyone has a part to play in finding solutions, not just a few select groups.

Crucially, the private sector is beginning to understand that ensuring the sustainability of resources is in their interest too. The viability of fishing enterprises depends on the existence of species to fish, the pharmaceutical industry depends on a diversity of species, and the tourism industry depends on the quality of the environment in which they operate. Many companies attended and exhibited what they have been doing to preserve the sustainability of the oceans, recognizing that their own business depends on it.

As Robert Zoellick, World Bank president, said at the Summit: “The first step is to stop doing dumb things.” He spoke of the need to redirect subsidies in the fisheries sector and for international collaboration in the development of a knowledge platform accessible to all stakeholders. Finally, he stressed the importance of involvement and participation of the private sector as well as the Global Partnership for Oceans, which Oceana has signed up to.

Of course, this fight has only just begun.


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