World Ocean Summit

Blue Growth key theme at event

The World Ocean Summit 2015 was held in Cascais, Portugal on June 4th-5th. More than 350 government ministers, business leaders, environmentalists and multilaterals from across the globe convened to discuss how to make the transition from a conventional ocean economy to a new ‘blue’ economy.

World Ocean Summit, Cascais, Portugal
The conference was held at The Oitavos in Cascais, Portugal.

Significant investments are being made in the ocean to provide more energy, food, jobs, coastal protection and commerce. This is called Blue growth and it presents both challenges and opportunities. People are the biggest threat to our oceans and given our history of unregulated and uncontrolled growth where the environment has suffered, it is imperative that we develop a blueprint for what the ocean economy should look like.

The process is commonly called ‘Blue Growth by Design’ and its goal is to make connections between healthy oceans and other pressing global challenges such as poverty, jobs, climate change and economic stability. “If governments, industries and communities work hand-in-hand with conservation experts to shape these global trends, we can place “blue growth” on a sustainable trajectory. Nobody can do it alone – we must find new allies and financial drivers of conservation,” says Maria Damanaki, global managing director for oceans, The Nature Conservancy.

An example of this Blue Growth by Design’ concept is earlier this year a first-of-its-kind impact investment debt for nature swap was announced between The Nature Conservancy, Seychelles Government and the Paris Club. The agreement allows the country to redirect a portion of its current debt payments to fund much needed marine conservation, ocean-use planning and climate adaptation activities on the ground. 

Another highlight of the Summit was the Ocean Innovation Challenge awards. These awards are designed to highlight innovative technology that addresses some of our most pressing ocean health issues. This year’s winner is: Liquid Robotics. Liquid Robotics' energy-efficient wave glider collects real-time data that can be used to track weather, to conduct oceanographic research and to curb illegal activities in MPAs and EEZs. Runners up were Project Eyes on the Seas who believes that strategic use of data for surveillance and tracking can put a stop to suspicious fishing activity; and Rightship, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases in the shipping industry by employing efficiency ratings to freight and shipping vessels similar to ratings applied to motor vehicles. 

Liquid Robotics, Wave Glider SV3
Liquid Robotics wining design.

Supplemental to the World Ocean Summit there were two other events that occurred that week in Cascais. In an unprecedented action, the Portuguese Minister of Agriculture and Sea, Assunção Cristas, invited ministers from around the world who are responsible for the sea to sit at the same table. Topics included:

  • What are the responsibilities of governments to preserve the ocean and at the same time, consolidate it to build a blue economy?
  • What are the funding mechanisms available to economic actors?
  • What are the best legal frameworks, facilitating a sustainable and lasting investment?
  • Which route that countries want to follow for a global governance of the ocean?

These hard-hitting questions showed reflection and willingness to look for answers by policy makers.

Secondly, The Blue Business Forum provided major international businesses in the maritime economy to exhibit their products and solutions, participate in business to business meetings, and discuss the major themes of the ocean at conferences, workshops and seminars. The Forum showcased research projects, technology and innovation any ways to enhance knowledge and business in the challenging world of blue economy.

Sailors for the Sea delegates were Minako Iue, President of the Japanese affiliate, Bernardo Corrêa de Barros, President of the Portuguese affiliate, Heather Ruhsam, Stewardship Director, and R. Mark Davis, our global President.