An ambitious new global partnership to save life in the ocean – the Friends of Ocean Action – was announced at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, invited the Forum to work with his office to create the partnership.
This multistakeholder partnership will comprise leaders from science, technology, business and non-governmental groups. It will draw together about 40 of the world’s most committed and influential ocean activists and thought leaders to help shape global action to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources).
Similar to the action agenda on climate change, which emerged in the run-up to the Paris Climate Conference, the Friends of Ocean Action will design and deliver a multistakeholder “Ocean Action Track” to complement the official intergovernmental processes for meeting SDG 14, which are also overseen by Thomson.
“The Friends of Ocean Action will represent a unique combination of innovation, resources, motivation and solutions from actors across different sectors, building on the mobilization that was achieved at the Ocean Conference. They will use their combined networks to scale and accelerate existing partnerships and initiatives and – where necessary – trigger new ones to help meet the ocean goal,” said Thomson.
Building on the spirit of the Ocean Conference held at the United Nations in New York in June 2017 under a Sweden-Fiji co-presidency, the Friends of Ocean Action will be co-chaired by Thomson and Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden.
“Urgent action is required to save life in the ocean. We face a generational challenge on our watch and we must rise to the task. Governments, United Nations agencies and international organizations cannot meet this challenge alone. The energy, innovation and resources from all sectors of public life and civil society and from all parts of our business, finance, technology and scientific communities must be drawn upon, from all regions of the world. This is why we are forming the Friends of Ocean Action,” Lövin said.
Salesforce Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff also announced a $4.5 million gift through the Benioff Ocean Initiative to support the new partnership. “Now is the time to take action to save our oceans and deal with major issues such as ocean plastics, over-fishing and acidification ” said Marc Benioff. “There will soon be more plastic in the ocean than fish. If we all act now, we can turn this tragedy into triumph.”
The World Economic Forum System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security will support this influential group, helping them build an informal platform for action on SDG 14 to complement official multi-government efforts.
“The Friends of Ocean Action is a unique three-year, time-bound, public-private initiative that will set itself specific goals and foster a portfolio of high-level, impactful initiatives for the proposed UN Ocean Conference to be held in 2020. We are delighted to help advance this important initiative,” said Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership at the World Economic Forum.
Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, also launched the High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy. It will consist of heads of government from coastal states coming together to raise global awareness and mobilize political action for responsible ocean management.