A global online conference for ocean action, the Virtual Ocean Dialogues, has been announced to take place on 1-5 June 2020. The Virtual Ocean Dialogues will connect communities across the world that are seeking innovation and taking bold action for a healthy, resilient, thriving ocean.
The rapid global spread of COVID-19 is posing unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, with large conferences and gatherings being postponed for reasons of health and safety and with global mobility drastically curtailed. As a result, our way of life and doing business are changing. Yet once beyond this pandemic, the ocean will be one of our greatest allies in economic recovery, food security, jobs and the battle against climate change.
The World Economic Forum and Friends of Ocean Action, a group of 57 global leaders fast-tracking scalable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the ocean, are curating the Virtual Ocean Dialogues to convene leaders and communities online from across the global ocean space. Designed in collaboration with a range of other partners, the Virtual Ocean Dialogues will maintain momentum in the face of COVID-19 to continue working for ambitious and urgent global action for a healthy ocean.
“During these difficult times, the Virtual Ocean Dialogues are being created in order to maintain positive momentum in global efforts to better protect and manage the resources of the ocean,” said Ambassador Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, and Co-Chair of Friends of Ocean Action. “Now more than ever, humanity needs a healthy, thriving ocean to protect our communities and build resilience against future crises.”
He added: “To achieve this, those of us who can are invited to commit to ambitious action on behalf of the ocean’s well-being. There can be no healthy planetary ecosystem without a healthy ocean. It is in humanity’s best interests that we reverse the cycle of decline in which the ocean has been caught. This can only be achieved through implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14, for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean’s resources. The Virtual Ocean Dialogues will drive us in that direction, through interactive dialogue between the finest of world ocean expertise and the virtual inclusivity of anyone around the world interested in the challenges facing the ocean today.”
The Virtual Ocean Dialogues will be open to anyone committed to ocean action, bringing an enhanced dimension of inclusivity and interactivity to these critical conversations. The Dialogues will offer a unique opportunity to connect and exchange ideas with global and local leaders alike across the ocean space, from ministers and business executives to academics, local communities and young change-makers. The Virtual Ocean Dialogues will feature a series of panels on key challenges facing the ocean, with high-level global speakers and opportunities to participate in engaging breakout conversations.
Priority topics to be covered include enabling a resilient ocean, how to stem the tide of marine pollution, sustainable food from the ocean, ocean data and science, marine protection and conservation of biodiversity, sustainably and equitably managing the high seas, ocean risk and more. The Dialogues will have a razor-sharp focus on bringing to light ambitious and inspiring solutions as well as tangible opportunities for positive change.
The Virtual Ocean Dialogues will also see the launch of UpLink, a digital platform to crowdsource innovations that will accelerate progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – the first focus of which is the ocean and SDG 14. UpLink’s core objective is to link up the best solutions and ideas with networks of decision-makers and influencers to catalyse ideas into scalable action.
“The world must unite in finding new ways to achieve the positive commitments and actions that are so urgently required, across the widest possible range of global public goods on which our lives and livelihoods depend. UpLink will be a great catalyst in this,” said Dominic Waughray, Head of the Centre for Global Public Goods and Managing Director, World Economic Forum.
“The World Economic Forum is committed to deploying our knowledge, technology and global networks in ensuring the Virtual Ocean Dialogues are a successful and dynamic event – convening and connecting communities from across the globe for the most pressing priorities facing the ocean,” he said.
In accord with the global effort to overcome the spread of COVID-19, the dates of the 2020 UN Ocean Conference are in the process of being rescheduled. The conference was to have been held in the first week of June. In the meantime, the 1-5 June date for the Virtual Ocean Dialogues has been chosen to maintain global momentum in support of action to safeguard the well-being of the ocean.