Ocean Health On The Global Agenda At The World Economic Forum

1/30/2012

Top scientists and business leaders at the annual WEF meeting discuss how to reconcile healthy oceans with growth and development in the 21st century

Arlington, Va.  – Last week Dr. Greg Stone, the senior vice president and chief scientist for Oceans at Conservation International served as a panelist at an open-session plenary meeting at the 42nd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) where over 1,600 business leaders, 40 heads of state and hundreds of leaders from academia, the media and non-profit organizations met to discuss the current state of the global economy and address and meet future economic challenges.
 
Stone, who works to advance the agenda of the WEF Ocean Governance Council, spoke at the interactive plenary session titled, ‘The Ocean Solution,’ which included featured speakers Robert B. Zoellick, President, The World Bank Group, Clarence Otis Jr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Darden Restaurants, Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO) and moderator John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist, United Kingdom.

“The vast wealth our oceans can provide has the potential to solve the looming global problems of the 21st century,” Stone said. “Before they can feed and provide livelihoods for our growing population, we must first be able to understand what their limits are and how we can restore their abundance and health to an optimal level.”

The oceans act as the Earth’s primary life support system. They are responsible for providing a whole host of ecosystem services which include the provision of seafood, biodiversity, clean water, and oxygen of which they supply over 50% to the air we breathe. It is these services and others that make the planet a livable and prosperous place for people and societies.  As the demands on the oceans increase, however, so too do the impacts on their overall health and ability to provide these critical services.  In particular, through overfishing – FAO data shows that 53% of marine fishery stocks are fully exploited with no room for further expansion; 28% are overexploited; 3% are depleted; and 1% are recovering from depletion and require plans for rebuilding.

Currently, 1 billion people depend on fish for essential nutrition. In 1997, is was estimated, using the entire World’s GDP, that the ocean provides over $21 trillion (Costanza et al) of unaccounted value to the world economy – these are goods and services that are supplied to mankind for free; today this value would be much higher. A 2010 UN study has estimated that by the year 2050 the global population will reach 9 billion people and will include 3 billion new people in a middle class that will total 5 billion.

“Participating in this discussion at the World Economic Forum is a sign that the health of our oceans is finally on the global agenda,” Stone said. “With our population growing and becoming more prosperous, how the health of mankind is closely linked to the health of oceans is an issue we can no longer afford to put off.”

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Learn more at: http://blog.conservation.org/2012/01/at-world-economic-forum-discussing-the-future-of-our-oceans/  

For more information, contact:
Kevin Connor, Media Manager, Conservation International
Office +1 703 341 2405 / mobile +1 571 232 0455 / email kconnor@conservation.org  

Synopsis of ‘The Ocean Solution’ Discussion: http://www.weforum.org/sessions/summary/ocean-solution  

Note to editors:
Conservation International (CI) — Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987 and marking its 25th anniversary in 2012, CI has headquarters in the Washington DC area, and 900 employees working in nearly 30 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world.  For more information, please visit at www.conservation.org, or on Facebook or Twitter.