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About the Panel

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The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy is a unique group of world leaders from around the globe committed to developing, catalyzing and supporting solutions for ocean health and wealth in policy, governance, technology and finance.

The goal is to advance a new contract between humanity and the sea that protects the ocean and optimizes its value to humankind. 

By focusing on the protection of, production from, and investment in the ocean, the Panel will demonstrate how transitioning to a Sustainable Ocean Economy is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals related to hunger, health, jobs, energy, sustainable communities and global partnerships. 

The urgency of the Panel’s work is driven by the knowledge that failure to take rapid action on marine pollution, overfishing, climate change and habitat loss will lead to failure to realize the SDG vision of a peaceful, prosperous, sustainable future.

The Panel is inclusive and transparent and believes that we are stronger when we work together. It will collaborate closely with governments, ocean industries and the financial sector to develop a set of recommendations that are rooted in science and informed by the work of many, with Panellists focused on triggering, amplifying and accelerating action at the most senior levels of government and business. 

Scientifically rigorous and mindful of real-world constraints, the High Level Panel is pragmatic in its search for solutions, humble in its quest to serve, and ambitious in its determination to overcome challenges and champion real progress towards a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

The High Level Panel is working to:

  • Catalyze, develop and support solutions for Ocean health and wealth
  • Establish a new global contract between the sea and humanity
  • Leverage the implementation of SDG 14 and all SDGs
  • Amplify the voice of vulnerable coastal and island communities reliant on the Ocean
  • Highlight the value-creation potential of balancing economic production and Ocean protection
  • Harmonize and multiply the impact of multiple Ocean initiatives
  • Champion a roadmap for building a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

Who is on the Panel?

The High Level Panel brings together serving heads of government who recognize that economic production and Ocean protection must be mutually supporting if we are to “produce, protect and prosper.”

Members of the Panel represent countries large and small, and at all stages of development, with special attention to low-income countries, small island states, and communities that rely on the Ocean for their survival. This diversity extends to the Expert Group, Advisory Network and Secretariat who will support the Panel with analytical work, communications and stakeholder engagement. 

The Secretariat is based at World Resources Institute, which has created a team of globally-recognized experts on Ocean economics, governance, technology and science.

What are the objectives?

The objective of the High Level Panel is to build a new, shared understanding of the current and potential future state of Ocean economy and ecology, and generate a set of policy, governance, technology and investment solutions aimed at catalyzing a truly Sustainable Ocean Economy.

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The Panel will produce a final report and suite of bold but pragmatic recommendations that are a roadmap for aligning robust economic development – especially in the developing world – with protecting the vital natural capital of the Ocean.

The goal is for top decision-makers around the world to recognize that economic production and Ocean protection must be mutually supporting, and that striking the right balance between use and conservation of the Ocean will lead to stronger productivity, job creation, food security, and regional stability at the same time as a more vibrant, healthy Ocean.

What is the approach?

The High Level Panel is international and inclusive. It harnesses expert and stakeholder knowledge to generate new information and insights, identify solutions, and develop practical strategies for turning those solutions into reality.

Regional consultations will be held to ensure that diverse perspectives and voices are heard, including young people, women, coastal and island communities, and small-scale fishers. 

The Panel and the Secretariat will ensure that it does not duplicate the work of others, but rather works with others to complement, harmonize and amplify existing initiatives. 

All members of the Panel, the Expert Group and the Advisory Network will be active champions of the research, innovations and recommendations generated and participate in ongoing outreach and engagement. 

As serving heads of government, the panellists understand the constraints and challenges of real-world politics and finance and are committed to advancing practical solutions.

The High Level Panel is:



The Panel brings political energy to catalyze change and inspire others to adopt solutions and innovations.



The Panel speaks with enthusiasm for what’s possible and an understanding of real-world constraints and challenges.



The Panel’s work is rooted in world class scientific knowledge.



The Panellists seek to include their fellow leaders and work with other Ocean initiatives in galvanizing progress.



The Panel embraces transparency in its own work and as an essential requisite for improved ocean protection.



The Panellists are all serving heads of government facing domestic challenges, but are determined and ambitious in their desire to champion Ocean health and wealth.

Why has this initiative come about?

The recent surge in interest in the Ocean is long overdue and highly welcome, but there is something missing. Many policymakers, business leaders, and other Ocean stakeholders still lack an evidence-based understanding of how sustainable use of the Ocean and its resources can enable higher value creation—and how this in turn can help meet some of the world’s most important needs. 

As the only Ocean body made up of serving political leaders, the Panel brings commitment at the highest political levels to fill gaps within existing Ocean production and protection activities and debates. 

The world needs a new, shared understanding of what a Sustainable Ocean Economy is and how to achieve it. The High Level Panel is therefore addressing the right questions at the right time. It will also help create unity and strategic synergies among the growing ranks of Ocean initiatives by harmonizing activities and multiplying impact.

What does it hope to achieve?

The High Level Panel hopes to change the way the world thinks, acts and feels about the Ocean, and inspire policies and actions at the highest levels that will catalyze the transition to a Sustainable Ocean Economy. 

Achieving these goals will help generate lasting, sustainable growth and prosperity, boost Ocean health, and meet the Sustainable Development Goals designed to build a better future for all.