Following a presentation from World Bank President Robert Zoellick at The Economist World Ocean Summit in Singapore today, Conservation International announced its enthusiastic support of the Global Partnership for Oceans. The partnership, according to Zoellick, will be coalition of governments, international organizations, civil society groups and private interests, joining together to confront widely documented problems of over-fishing, pollution, habitat loss and climate change.
"The bottom line is our lives depend on oceans, but we need to better understand them. We need to adequately value oceans and the benefits they provide, and act on this knowledge. If we don't do this, we and future generations of people will be hurt," said Conservation International Chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann. "I commend Robert Zoellick and the World Bank on taking a critical step to catalyze the funding required by governments, businesses and civil society to secure ocean health for us and our children."
Conservation International has already demonstrated a successful ocean conservation model in the field with its Seascape approach, which aims to establish responsible governance and recovering ocean health at a large scale (hundreds of thousands or millions of square kilometers) through collaboration among governments of bordering nations, stakeholder groups and partner organizations.
"This partnership is timely because oceans are under threat and have not been properly managed. Demand for seafood and other benefits from the oceans are growing while marine ecosystems are declining in health," said Sebastian Troëng, Vice President of Marine Conservation at Conservation International. "Conservation International has talented staff and strong partnerships around the globe, but no organization has the ability to singlehandedly resolve the challenges facing the world’s oceans. Working with the World Bank in this Partnership, we bring together governments, businesses, financial institutions and local communities to support healthy and productive oceans in a way we could not have done alone."
Over the past decade, Conservation International has catalyzed the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (a collaboration between Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador); the Papuan Bird's Head Seascape (Indonesia); the Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape (Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia); and the Abrolhos Seascape (Brazil).
"When the governance situation changes and countries establish marine protected areas, an average there is a 21 percent increase in the diversity, and a 28 percent increase in the size of the organisms inside the reserves relative to unprotected areas nearby," added Troeng. "Those same reserves have seen the tons of fish per square kilometer increase 446 percent on average. And research has shown that communities using marine protected areas have greater incomes, more diversified livelihoods and greater environmental awareness than nearby communities that do not have marine protected areas."
Conservation International is joined in this partnership by a number of developed and developing countries and country groupings, including island nations; non-government organizations and advocacy bodies like Environmental Defense Fund, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy, Oceana, Rare and World Wildlife Fund (WWF); science bodies like the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); industry groups like National Fisheries Institute, and the World Ocean Council whose members rely on sustainable seafood supplies or are dependent on ocean resources; international organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Global Environment Facility, Global Ocean Forum, GRID Arendal (Norway), the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the World Bank Group.