During this event, representatives of governments, civil society and the private sector, as well as international organisations and scientists shared a common conviction: the vitality of the Planet and the Ocean can go hand in hand with the vitality of the economy!
In His opening speech, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco called for collective mobilisation, underligning that « the best way of doing this is to create dialogue between the various stakeholders concerned. To pool our knowledge, expertise and resources. To establish shared diagnostics, ambitions and strategies.» At a time when major international events are on the agenda for 2021 in terms of both biodiversity preservation and ocean conservation, this ambition must drive us.
John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, U.S. stated that “We cannot fight the climate crisis without the power of the ocean. The ocean is a source of sustainable climate solutions […] Just think of the jobs this work will create. The fact is that we are looking at the possibilities of the greatest economic transformation the world has seen since the industrial revolution.”
Businesses must commit to the blue economy with the support of science
In this regard, the mobilisation of the private sector is essential, on the one hand because there is a huge potential for employment, but also because conservation must rely on the means and tools of the private sector.
« International and national laws are not enough to solve the many problems of sustainable development and the ocean component is one of the most complex. The private sector has the opportunity, through the principles of corporate social responsibility, to support this paradigm shift.» explained Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Republic of Portugal.
To stimulate private sector commitment and change the approach, we need to broaden the point of view and take into account the “ecosystem services” – non-monetary benefits – of the Ocean and better take into account the long-term benefits of a healthy ocean.
Throughout the day, the need for complementarity between the various players was emphasised in order to successfully protect the Ocean: political leadership, the regulatory framework and the commitment of private players.
This cooperation must be based on broad, shared and transparent knowledge of the Ocean. Science must be the link between the various actions, bringing together the diagnosis, the political impetus and the operational tools for each. Science should not only aim to increase knowledge and data. It must also provide insights and indicators to better guide, influence and measure public and private actions.
New tools for a genuine sustainable economy
There is an urgent need to develop a set of decision-making and steering tools that integrate major environmental and social objectives and that take the long term into account.
Companies are finding it difficult to set meaningful objectives. Many feel “far away” from the Ocean: what is their impact? How can they contribute to its protection?
A shift has been made with corporate social responsibility, but the commitment cannot be reduced to a marketing argument, to respond to a “guilty conscience”, and must be at the heart of the strategy to implement sustainable development objectives.
“We need leaders in all sectors of activity. Even if these sectors appear to be far from the ocean, these leaders will pave the way, experiment, and cascade to other companies in their supply chain, their partners, and even to consumers. It is from one to the next that attention for the Ocean will develop,” said Robert Calcagno, Director General of the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco.
The financial sector can assist by providing its tools to value the future and in particular the risks: those that may result from climate change and biodiversity degradation and, conversely, the way in which nature-based solutions can reduce these risks (e.g. preservation/restoration of mangroves and coral reefs).
For this, finance also needs accurate data on the state of the environment, the services provided by nature today, and models to predict their future evolution.
“New mechanisms need to be created to bring together various sources of funding (public, private, philanthropy) and benefits of various kinds, whether they can be monetised or not. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs is a good example,” said Olivier Wenden, Vice President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Combining economic recovery with ocean preservation
Opening the MBI HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco said that “[The post-Covid recovery plans] offer a rare window in history”.
For governments, taking the long view is the key to aligning the massive stimulus packages emerging around the world with the preservation of the Ocean and the Planet. It is not just a question of repairing the economy after Covid, but also of building it for the decades to come.
“The blue economy must therefore be one of the pillars of the recovery plans. We must rebuild better, and in blue! “stated Annick Girardin, French Minister for the Sea.
Also, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries added that “The blue economy will play a major role in our transformation, we will not meet the ambitions of the European Green Deal without the blue economy.