Over 150 business leaders from a range of ocean industries -- including shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, aquaculture, mining and offshore renewable energy -- participated in the World Ocean Council’s inaugural Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS) last June in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With the theme of “Reducing Risk, Increasing Sustainability: Solutions through Collaboration”, the SOS covered a range of ocean stewardship issues including marine spatial planning, the Arctic, biodiversity, marine debris, and sound in the marine environment.
Never has it been clearer that the single most important factor determining the health of the ocean is the way business is done in the marine environment, and that industry leadership in ocean protection is critical. “Sustainable oceans are of crucial importance to the private sector and to society as a whole,” said Richard Pruitt, Director of Environmental Programs, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “The issues covered at the SOS provided the foundation for global collaboration and the future work of the World Ocean Council.”
This gathering of the ocean business community, held soon after World Ocean Day on June 8th, kicked off with the inaugural Round Table of Ocean Industry Association Leaders, which convened nearly 20 international marine related business groups to consider areas of common concern. The SOS also included the first international industry seminar on marine spatial planning. Participants from around the world learned about the growing efforts to address multiple uses of the ocean through this approach, and encouraged the World Ocean Council to work with ocean industries to better understand and engage in marine spatial planning.
In recognition of the International Year of the Seafarer, a special session of the summit highlighted the need for the ocean industries to focus greater attention on safety and environmental education for maritime professionals. Peter Hinchliffe, Marine Director for the International Chamber of Shipping, and others emphasized the respect seafarers have for the marine environment and the opportunities for harnessing this to improve ocean stewardship.
World Ocean Council membership is open to ocean industries who demonstrate a commitment to collaboration and leadership in addressing ocean sustainability challenges. The growing membership currently includes ExxonMobil, Rio Tinto, Transocean, Det Norske Veritas, Golder Associates, Torm A/S, ICS, Blank Rome, and Columbia University’s Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy and many others.