The new year is a time for celebration and looking towards the future with hope and anticipation. We often hear about the dire state of the ocean – serious overfishing, pollution, acidification – it would seem there is not much to be hopeful about. But that is not the whole story. Fishing communities are benefiting from new rights that incentivize long-term economic benefits over short-term gains. No fishing zones are being established creating new tourism opportunities and restoring fisheries. More people from ever-diversifying sectors of society are learning about the importance of a healthy ocean and the relationship to human and planetary health. They are getting inspired to change their behavior, from choosing to buy sustainable seafood to avoiding plastic bags and containers that can become marine trash. They are leading change among their peers and in their communities. It is time for the business community in particular to get more involved and help increase the pace and scale of learning and positive action.
In association with National Geographic, The Economist is covening the World Oceans Summit on February 22nd-24th in Singapore to bring together over 200 leaders from various sectors and disciplines to discuss the future health, and strategies for sustainable use, of the ocean. In a time when corporations and governments are exploring the expanding economic potential of the ocean, it is critical to understand how such potential can be realized in a sustainable way. Those that will participate – business, government, academia, international organizations and NGOs – all have a role to play in expanding knowledge and leading change.
As we look to the new year, making resolutions and prioritizing our time and commitments, we can all commit to rethinking our relationship with the ocean and taking some action – however large or small – for positive change.