13 October 2017
Prince Charles at the conference 'Our Ocean, an Ocean for Life' in Malta, Oct 2017
Prince Charles told the conference: "Plastics is indeed now on the menu." Photo: © European Union , 2017, Matthew Mirabelli

Standing before a dramatic blue backdrop, the UK’s Prince Charles opened the recent Our Oceans Conference in Malta by reminding his audience the world was heavily dependent on the Ocean.

Hosted by the European Commission, the conference focused on pollution, fisheries, marine protected areas, maritime security and blue economy.

GCI Director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg attended the invite-only event, along with a host of other high-profile guests which included Jordon's Queen Noor, Prince Albert of Monaco, several international philanthropists and the former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It was very encouraging to see leaders such as HRH Prince Charles and HSH Prince Albert of Monaco not only voicing their concern about the rapid changes in the ocean, but also pledging deep action,” Professor Guldberg said.

“Recent assessments reveal a large number of problems that must be solved if we are to have a sustainable Ocean that nourishes a vibrant Blue Economy.

“While there is still reason to hope, the need for comprehensive action on climate change, plastics, overfishing, and many other ocean-related issues is urgent,” he said.

A major novelty

Senior environmental specialist for the Washington-based Global Environment Facility (GEF) Dr Leah Karrer, who also attended the Malta conference, told GCI that a major novelty at the gathering was the determined effort made to include the business community in planning solutions to global ocean challenges.

“The 2017 conference for the first time mobilised, at scale, the business community in the conservation of our Ocean with corporate leaders making over 100 commitments, Dr Karrer said.

“Together these announcements amounted to AUS$11 billion in financial pledges and more than 2.55 million square-kilometres of additional marine protected areas.

“The conference concluded with Indonesia, Norway and Palau announcing they will host the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Our Ocean Conferences, helping to ensure its longevity.”

Dr Karrer said the key insights/statements she took away from the conference included:

  • A new theme to the conference, ‘Blue Economy’, meant recognising that our oceans are a valuable asset. Blue economy comprises the range of economic sectors and related policies that together determine whether the use of oceanic resources is sustainable as conveyed in this animation.
  • The ocean conservation community needed to ensure long-term financial sustainability by moving beyond the traditional grants and into business investments in the ocean and its services.
  • “Give a man a fish, he’s fed for the day. Teach a man to fish sustainably and you’ve fed him for life,” underscoring the importance of capacity building and knowledge sharing.
  • “Plastics is indeed now on the menu” by Prince Charles reflected the intertwined and urgent nature of ocean issues, including pollution and fisheries.

“As noted repeatedly, Ocean conservation is about people,” Dr Karrer noted.

Her final point referred not only to food security, but also maritime security, livelihoods, recreational benefits and serenity provided by the ocean.

Visit the Our Oceans conference media centre for more infomation.

(c) European Union 2017

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