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Building Political Momentum for the Ocean as a Policy Cornerstone

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Ocean Panel members commit to 100% sustainable ocean management to solve global challenges

The Ocean Panel has put forward a new ocean action agenda underpinned by sustainably managing 100% of national waters. This is a new type of global cooperation in building towards a sustainable ocean economy. 

While the recent surge in ocean interest is long overdue, and much of the ocean community largely agrees on what needs to happen, converting ocean knowledge to action at the scale and speed required has been elusive. There’s been a will, but not the required high-level political will leading the way – until now.  

The Ocean Panel is moving further, faster, together – representing approximately 35% of the world's exclusive economic zones, the Panel is building momentum globally to reach a goal of protecting 100% of ocean area under national jurisdictions.  

The Ocean Panel country members will bring a holistic approach to ocean management that balances protection, production and prosperity to approximately 36 million square kilometres of national waters. 

The Commitment and Framework for Transformation

At its foundation, heads of state and government are setting a goal to achieve 100% sustainable ocean management of areas within national jurisdiction, guided by Sustainable Ocean Plans, by 2025, and to support a global target to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 – which a growing body of science is indicating is the engine for ocean replenishment.

Note: Countries joining the Ocean Panel effort after 2020 may commit to develop and be guided by Sustainable Ocean Plans within 5 years of joining, with the aim of sustainably managing 100% of the ocean area under national jurisdiction.

This commitment is paired with a set of bold, yet pragmatic recommendations to transform how to protect and use the ocean and ultimately manage humanity’s impacts on it.

The Transformations set out 5 key areas: Ocean Wealth, Ocean Health, Ocean Equity, Ocean Knowledge and Ocean Finance. Each one of these areas details a range of actions to achieve them.

There are 74 priority actions that the Ocean Panel countries have reached consensus on. Together, they point to where the world should be in the next decade, when the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development conclude.

The Ocean Panel brings commitment at the highest political levels to fill gaps within existing debates, collaborations and policymaking. It is especially timely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world needs solutions rooted in sustainability, resilience and prosperity for all. What we do now is simultaneously vital for the climate crisis, and opportunities to do things better lie in the ocean. It has a role to play in solving our climate challenges and restoring economies, ecosystems and societies in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The Ocean Panel maintains that a sustainable ocean economy is the foundation needed for unleashing these solutions. 

Into 2021, expect to see the Ocean Panel engaging in dialogues and events to keep the ocean on the international agenda, taking action, sharing why the ocean matters, and promoting why SDG14 is important.  

Watch this video to hear what António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said about the Ocean Panel's announcement.

Ocean Wealth: Sustainable ocean-based Industries 
Ocean-based industries can outperform the growth of the global economy. 

Ocean Health: A healthy ocean for people, nature and the economy
We cannot have healthy people and planet without a healthy ocean. The pressures are intense, but recovery is possible. 

Ocean Equity: Equal Opportunity for all
The ocean has a role in assuring the needs and rights of all people – especially as we plan today for 9 billion people in 2050. 

Ocean Knowledge: Smarter ocean decisions 
Revolutionary data and technology combined with traditional and local knowledge will not only enhance our understanding of ecosystems and natural wealth today but unleash our imagination with the possibilities of tomorrow. 

Ocean Finance: Responsible and sustainable capital
Capital to finance the transformation to a sustainable ocean economy is readily available, with the potential for more public sector funding to unlock private sector funding. 

Latest Policy Updates

23 April: Australia announces $100 million initiative to protect our ocean.

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A Historic Achievement in a Challenging Year  

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for transformative change in humanity’s relationship with nature.  

For two years, the Ocean Panel has been deliberating on what transformative change looks like for blue nature and a sustainable ocean economy.  

The result of broad and diverse collaborative engagement and consultation and an unprecedented scientific knowledge base for action to inform the agenda is a far-reaching political document: ‘Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: A Vision for Protection, Production and Prosperity’.  

The Transformations have been endorsed by the full Ocean Panel, comprised of serving heads of state and government, representing over 45% of the world’s coastlines and 35% of the world’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs); and who represent nations at every stage of economic development, and at every extreme of the ocean environment from the tropics to the Arctic.  

This is a truly historic effort. Not only is the Ocean Panel the first to bring together serving world leaders on ocean issues outside of formal processes, it was able to reach political consensus in the midst of the pandemic.  

This is important progress to celebrate against a very challenging year the world has faced in 2020.   

Message from the Ocean Panel Co-Chairs

Ocean Panel Co-Chairs at the time, Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg and President of Palau Tommy Remengesau, Jr., launched the new ocean action agenda in 2020. 


World Leaders United in 100% Commitment


Defining the Terms    

What is a Sustainable Ocean Economy?

The use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems and associated services. 

What is Sustainable Ocean Management?  

An approach to managing ecosystems and resources as a whole, promoting an equitable system of conservation and sustainable use.  

What is a Sustainable Ocean Plan?

A plan for sustainable and integrated management of 100% of the ocean area that has the following attributes: 

  • Science-informed, ecosystem-based and goal-oriented. 
  • Considers all ocean users and uses through inclusive and participatory approaches, so that trade-offs and conflicts can be properly assessed and resolved, and ocean benefits can be distributed equitably. 
  • Considers the collective impact of human activities on ocean ecosystems – including land and sea interactions - so as to maintain ecosystem functioning, integrity and delivery of services. 
  • Establishes an iterative process of monitoring and assessment to check progress against goals and recalibrate as new knowledge comes in and conditions change. 
  • Builds on and strengthens existing initiatives, bringing sectors together under one umbrella. 

Meet the Ocean Panel 

Established in 2018, Ocean Panel is a unique initiative by serving world leaders who are building momentum for a sustainable ocean economy in which effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity go hand in hand.

Learn more about the Ocean Panel