(OSLO, Norway, Oct. 23, 2019) – Nations around the world are facing unprecedented challenges from climate impacts on the world’s ocean and must work to create greater ocean resilience, said panelists at an official side event at the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo, Norway today.
The event, Climate Change & the Ocean: Charting a Resilient Path Forward, brought together leading experts on ocean health, resilience and fisheries management, and was sponsored by the government of Chile, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Walton Family Foundation, the Nippon Foundation and Environmental Defense Fund.
“This is a time of enormous change for the world’s ocean — and with that change comes meaningful opportunities and a responsibility to create a healthier and more resilient future,” said Jane Lubchenco, distinguished professor at Oregon State University and co-chair of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy’s Expert Group. “Nowhere is this more true than in our response to the climate impacts on the world’s fisheries. Billions of people will be affected through loss of nutrition and income if we don’t act now to put in place solutions for resilience coupled with emissions reduction.”
In addition to Lubchenco, the panel featured Waldemar Coutts, Ambassador of Chile to Norway and Iceland; Manuel Barange, Director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Division at FAO; and Yoshitaka Ota, Director of the Nippon Foundation Nereus Program.
The convening comes as nations need to find meaningful responses to the threats raised in the recent special report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change focused on climate impacts to the ocean and cryosphere. The report found that the rate of ocean warming has doubled in the past three decades, with enormous implications for marine life, ecosystems, food, nutrition and economic well-being.
“We know that effective and timely adaptation measures can minimize the threats of climate change and reap very positive results,” said Barange. “It is our obligation to help countries find the solutions that work for them.”
The discussion also follows the release of a special report by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which quantified opportunities in the ocean for climate mitigation, recommending innovations such as offshore energy production, coastal and marine ecosystem protection and a shift toward seafood and away from emission intensive land-based protein sources to help reduce emissions and create greater resilience.
The panel focused on how climate change is impacting fisheries that help feed the world, as the distribution and abundance of global fish populations shift toward the poles in search of more habitable conditions. Experts discussed the need to implement changes by governments, fishermen and their communities in order to ensure healthy, reliable and equitable fisheries in the face of climate change.
“If you take care of fish, you’re taking care of a world where people and nature can prosper together,” said the Walton Family Foundation’s oceans initiative lead, Tom Grasso. “It is not too late to think this way. We know from experience and science that by taking care of the fish, we can enhance the resilience of coral reefs, marine food webs and the coastal communities dependent on fishing to pay their bills and put food on their tables.”
“We know for a fact that we must tackle climate change on two fronts. We must reduce our emissions in order to achieve zero net pollution by 2050 in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change,” said Eric Schwaab, senior vice president for oceans at Environmental Defense Fund. “We must also plan for the climate impacts that we know are already baked into the system by building climate-smart fisheries that support the nutritional and economic needs of the billions of people who rely on fish for food and income.”
The Our Ocean Conference is just one of the venues where world leaders will be gathering to tackle the challenges of climate change, mitigation opportunities and the need for fishery management reforms. Leaders will convene in December in Chile for the 25th Conference of the Parties, or COP 25, which is being dubbed the “Blue COP” for its focus on ocean-related climate issues. In addition, the 127 governments who are members of the U.N. FAO Committee on Fisheries will come together in July 2020 to discuss the global response to creating more climate-resilient fisheries.
“On behalf of Chile, which serves on both the High Level Panel and the Bureau of the Committee on Fisheries, we will call upon these bodies to act,” said Ambassador Coutts. “We will promote a united stand in our demand for actionable guidance and a roadmap for climate resilient fisheries.”
About The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy
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.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2018, the foundation awarded more than $595 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.