Ocean and Human Health Investment Strategies Firmly Aligned in New Report from Blue Ribbon Panel


Global Leaders from Business, Conservation Finance, Science Agree on Shared Pathway to Ocean Health and Human Well-Being ; Report from Blue Ribbon Panel of 21 Ocean Experts Proposes Five Principles for Effective Investment in Ocean conservation

Arlington, Va. — A unique advisory group made up of business, government, conservation and academic leaders and convened by the World Bank has agreed to a global strategy for aligning ocean health and human well-being. The Blue Ribbon Panel​, which includes 21 global experts from 16 countries, issued a report this week, emphasizing that without action to turn around the declining health of the ocean, the consequences for economies, communities and ecosystems will be irreversible. 

Brought together by the World Bank to advise the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), of which Conservation international is a partner, the Panel includes high-level players ranging from CEOs of some of the largest seafood companies in the world - including Thai Union Frozen Products, Bumble Bee Foods and High Liner Foods - to government officials and prominent marine conservationists.  

According to the panel’s report, Indispensable Ocean: Aligning Ocean Health and Human Well Being, fragmented approaches that fail to consider social, political, economic and ecological relationships will fail to meet the complex challenges facing ocean health. The report calls for an integrated approach to ocean investment and emphasizes the essential role of public-private partnerships.  

“It is encouraging that a very diverse group of experts and stakeholders like the Blue Ribbon Panel recognize that the core issue is the strong links between ocean health and human well-being,” said Sebastian Troeng Senior Vice President and Managing Director of the Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans at Conservation International. “With the global Ocean Health Index scoring just 65 in its annual update, we can do so much better for both oceans and people, if we scale up solutions that address the critical role of ocean ecosystems in sustaining economies and livelihoods.” 

Recent science from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) has intensified the need for action on ocean health. 

“Ocean change is climate change and vice versa,” said panel chair and ocean adviser to the IPCC Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. “With looming threats of rising sea levels, warmer waters and a growing human population we need healthy oceans and coasts to mitigate climate change, feed billions and protect coastal communities.” 

But there is good news: solutions exist that benefit both oceans and economies, according to the panel’s report. 

The panel agreed that the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) is a platform that brings together the multi-stakeholder support, technical expertise and finance needed to change the course on oceans. 

“Getting to healthy oceans is a global challenge that needs the concentrated effort of big and small business, government and science,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. “Though they brought very different world views, everyone on this panel agreed that we can’t keep going with business-as-usual and all parts of society must be part of the solution.” 

The panel also agreed that there is no “silver bullet” to resolving urgent ocean challenges, proposing instead, these five principles to ensure effective GPO investments in future: 
  1. sustainable livelihoods, social equity and food security; 
  2. a healthy ocean; 
  3. effective governance systems; 
  4. long-term viability 
  5. capacity building and innovation 
"It's good to see that the Blue Ribbon Panel has emphasized the potential for synergies from better ocean governance in terms of sustainable livelihoods and food security on the one hand, and a healthy, thriving ocean ecosystem on the other,” said Lawrence Connell, Director of Multilateral Relations in CI’s Center for Environment and Peace. “The Global Partnership for Oceans now is positioned to bring together the players and the know-how to deliver those outcomes, and CI's expertise and experience-- for example our Seascapes approach-- can help make that happen in a smart, sensitive and scalable way." 

“Being a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel has been an illuminating experience as it has forced me to look at oceans holistically,” said panelist Chris Lischewski, CEO of Bumble Bee Foods. “This process has made me realize that improving ocean health is a complex process that requires participation and interaction across a broad sphere of communities, industries and governments.” 

The Panel’s principle-based strategy provides an approach to prioritize where, when and how the GPO can take action with high impact. The panel recommends that the principles be incorporated into all levels of reform - from fisheries management to incentives for pollution reduction to habitat restoration. 

“Bringing this diverse and powerful group together to reach consensus on the challenges and what needs to be done shows what is possible through effective global partnership,” said Juergen Voegele of the World Bank. “The panel’s top priorities build naturally from the GPO’s objectives of healthy oceans and poverty alleviation and their recommendations will make this partnership strategic in how and where it works.” 

“This is a critical time in history,” said panelist Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum. “All levels of society and all stakeholders need to combine in joint action as a response to this very global problem.” 


Press Inquiries: 
Elisabeth Mealey | EMealey@worldbank.org 
Alexandra Barnett | Barnett@sunshinesachs.com 
Kevin Connor | kconnor@conservation.org

Blue Ribbon Panelists are: 
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Panel Chair, Director of Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Australia 
Transform Aqorau, Chief Executive Officer, Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office 
Ragnar Arnason, Professor of Fisheries Economics, University of Iceland 
Thiraphong Chansiri, President, Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, Thailand 
Nelson Del Rio Chairman, Emergent Intelligence Solutions, United States 
Henry Demone, CEO, High Liner Foods Inc, Canada 
Sylvia Earle, Founder, Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance, United States 
Mary H. Feeley, Chief Geoscientist, ExxonMobil Corporation, United States 
Dimitri Gutierrez, Director of Investigations on Oceanography and Climate Change, Peruvian Institute of Marine Research (IMARPE), Peru 
Ray Hilborn, Professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Science, University of Washington, United States 
Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility 
Chris Lischewski, President and CEO, Bumble Bee Foods, United States 
Jane Lubchenco, Professor of Marine Biology, Oregon State University, United States 
Kim Anh Nguyen, Director, NOMA-FAME Program, Professor of Fisheries Economics, Nha Trang University, Vietnam 
David Obura, Director, CORDIO East Africa, Kenya 
H.E. Rolph Payet, Minister for Environment and Energy, Pro-Chancellor University of Seychelles, Seychelles 
Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat 
John Tanzer, Director, Global Marine Programme, WWF International 
Johán H. Williams, Specialist Director, Department for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Norway 
Dawn J. Wright, Chief Scientist, Esri, United States 
Jintao Xu, Professor of Natural Resource Economics, Peking University, China 
About the Blue Ribbon Panel: Convened by the World Bank, the Blue Ribbon Panel comprises leaders from 16 countries, representing government, the private sector, non-profit organizations, academia, and multi-lateral institutions. The Panel was tasked with providing recommendations to the Global Partnership for Oceans on the principles and practices for prioritizing and implementing sustainable ocean investment. For more information on the Blue Ribbon Panel, please visit: http://www.globalpartnershipforoceans.org/blue-ribbon-panel.  
About the Global Partnership for Oceans: The GPO is a new and powerful approach to restoring ocean health. It mobilizes finance and knowledge to activate proven solutions at an unprecedented scale for the benefit of communities, countries and global well-being. The GPO is a growing alliance of over 140 governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and private sector interests committed to addressing the threats to the health, productivity and resilience of the ocean. It aims to tackle widely documented problems of overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss. For more information on the Global Partnership for Oceans, please visit: http://www.globalpartnershipforoceans.org.