Most Influential Projects 2021

03 Give It 100%

A beach scene with waves

For creating a framework to futureproof the world’s ocean economy

A healthy ocean contributes US$1.5 trillion and millions of jobs to the global economy annually, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Yet climate change has already wreaked havoc on some ocean economies and threatens to put more at risk. So the leaders of 14 countries that make up 40 percent of the world’s coastlines are banding together. The goal? Sustainably manage nearly 30 million square kilometers (11.5 million square miles) of waters by 2025.

The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (known as Ocean Panel) includes Canada, Japan and Australia as well as emerging economies like Chile, Namibia and México. 

Together, the group completed a two-year effort to craft recommendations that were released in December 2020. And by the team’s calculations, accomplishing every item from its 74-point plan would help oceans reach their potential benefits, including six times more food production. It would also generate up to one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to stay within the warming threshold set by scientists to curb the worst of climate change’s effects. 

The team is now working to finance and scale the initiatives identified by the panel, with each member country aiming to sustainably manage 100 percent of waters under its national jurisdiction within four years.

“The ocean is neither too big to fail nor too big to fix, but it is too big and too central to our future to ignore,” said Jane Lubchenco, PhD, co-chair of the Ocean Panel Expert Group.