The opportunities in the ocean industry

The vast majority of the ocean has yet to be explored. The ocean’s potential for clean energy, green transport and healthy food is immense. But how can we do this right to both deliver on the SDGs and the Paris Agreement?

“How to use the ocean without using it up?"

That was the big question posed by HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden at the UN Global Compact’s Leaders Summit. The session gathered some of the world’s leading companies and voices on ocean industries and sustainability.

Moderated by Erik Giercksky, Head of Sustainable Ocean Business, United Nations Global Compact, the panel explored the idea of how individual companies, together with the greater community of governments and UN institutions, can come together as stewards of the ocean while also harnessing the still vastly untapped resources that the ocean holds.

“The ocean could produce enough power for more than 10 times the global energy demand in 2040,” said Jonathan Cole, Managing Director Offshore Iberdrola Renewables Business. This would not only help address climate change, but also boost opportunities for driving economic growth and industrial redevelopment for coastal communities. In addition, this investment gathers data on the ocean which is shared to make better informed decisions about how to address conservation.

Collaboration and data sharing underpins this notion of ocean stewardship from the technology perspective too. Geir Haoy, Chief Executive Officer Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, stated that: “Technology will make the difference in a more sustainable use of the ocean going forward”, this will be facilitated by cross-sectoral collaboration for innovation and data collection.

Continuing the emphasis on industry collaborations, Therese Bergjord, Chief Executive Officer of Skretting, one of the world's largest aquaculture food companies, elaborated on the need for collaborative industry innovations. She explained the crucial role that aquaculture plays in meeting the needs of our growing population, with it producing 50% of consumed seafood. She advised that other businesses should strive for more sustainable innovative practices, to “work together as industries to instigate change at the pace that the planet needs”, not waiting for governments and regulators to act first.

Another example of business innovation was demonstrated by Lokesh Sambhwani, co-founder of Recube, and winner of the Reboot the Ocean challenge co-organized by the UN Global Compact and the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology, with the development of a process to move beyond biodegradable packaging and promoting reusing and transforming types of waste into products instead.

Vidar Helgesen from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that we must talk not only about business innovation but governance innovation too. Agreeing with Therese Bergjord that confirmed that governments are facing challenges in reacting quickly to pursue sustainable practices in ocean industries, he noted that these challenges are the same as those faced by businesses. He instead recognises this as an opportunity to take a holistic approach to stewardship and ensure that we have a governance framework, starting with coastal states.

The support for these moves into more sustainable ocean practices is shown by Marisa Drew, Credit Suisse, CEO of the Impact Advisory and Finance Department who demonstrated her commitment to financial innovation and the enthusiasm to mobilise capital to help solve and create positive outcomes, noting that investing in sustainable ocean industries constitutes a significant opportunity to boost the economy in times of COVID-19.

This sentiment was echoed by H.E. Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations who recognised this opportunity of adapting to the new normal which can benefit our approaches to sustainability, recognising that local actions can lead to global change and respecting the “balance of ocean health and ocean wealth”.

It is this balance that leads to ocean stewardship, and what HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden described as “securing the future for your industries by securing the future of our ocean”. It is with this mindset and the consensus within the session towards the concepts of cross-sectoral collaborations and innovations for more sustainable ocean industry practices that provides great impetus for the 2021 UN Ocean Conference and achieving the 2030 Agenda.

In September 2019, the UN Global Compact launched the Sustainable Ocean Principles

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