This annual gathering was launched in 2014 by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with the hope of building momentum around ocean protection, and elevating the concern of a degrading ocean in the public arena.
Has this vision been achieved? I believe we have come a long way—ocean conservation is gradually becoming a mainstream concern, and that is a good thing. We now have multiple yearly ocean gatherings, including one hosted by the Economist, opening the dialogue to stakeholders beyond the conservation world. The ocean has its own Sustainable Development Goal 14, a United Nations conference and a newly appointed Special Envoy for the Ocean. Not a week goes by without one, or several, of the world’s leading media outlets sharing an ocean story.
But how does this translate to meaningful impact for our ocean? Global gatherings have a mixed reputation, often reduced to little more than talk shops. In some cases, this reputation is deserved, but I do believe there is real power in thoughtfully facilitated dialogue and skillful negotiation. More than ever, we need big wins for the ocean—wins that only large-scale, multilateral collaboration can achieve.
Photo: Mandy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)