For three years, ocean leaders, including foreign ministers, policymakers, scientists, and business leaders, have met annually to discuss the health and future of the ocean and build a movement for collective action.
Started by the State Department in 2014, the Our Ocean Conference has sought to address key issues surrounding global ocean health, such as marine-protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts on the ocean. The objective of the conference is to inspire and empower leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and civil society to identify solutions and commit to concrete actions to protect the ocean and its resources.
To date, the three Our Ocean Conferences have generated commitments to protect more than 3.8 million square miles of ocean—an area the size of the United States. The conference has also raised more than $9.2 billion in funding to promote sustainable seafood, clean up marine debris, and crack down on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
In addition to these impressive achievements, the conference is notable because it engages senior officials in foreign ministries and elevates the importance of ocean issues above domestic policy and into the realm of global governance, alongside issues such as trade and climate. In addition, the conference places a special emphasis on technological innovation and entrepreneurship in ocean conservation and engages youth in side events to empower the next generation of ocean leaders.
The Our Ocean Conference illustrates the importance of leadership to forge international commitments to address critical ocean issues and underscores the need for concrete solutions to protect the ocean and its resources. As President Obama stated during the 2016 Our Ocean Conference, “We cannot truly protect our planet without protecting our ocean.”
Published in March, 2017, by the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative.