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New initiative launched to support sustainable ocean economies under the Group of Twenty (G20)

Co-director Jim Leape joins discussions of a new platform to bring holistic ocean management approaches into policy decision-making.
Island in aqua ocean with small boats.

Last month, the Government of Indonesia, together with the World Economic Forum, launched the Ocean 20 (O20), an innovative public-private initiative to ensure the long-term sustainability of the ocean economy.  

Kicked off in Bali during a series of high-level dialogues ahead of the Group of Twenty (G20) Heads of State and Government Summit, O20 is being proposed as an official Engagement Group of the G20. Indonesia handed off the G20 Presidency to India on December 1st.

As the G20 represent 45% of the world’s coastlines, 80% of global carbon emissions, and 75% of global trade, restoring the ocean’s value and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the ocean economy represents a critical opportunity to address many of the priorities set out in the G20 agenda, including stimulating economic growth, jobs, and innovation.

“We enthusiastically support O20 as a vital platform for ongoing engagement of the world’s twenty largest economies on ocean challenges,” said Jim Leape, co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions (COS). “It provides an exciting new forum for advancing action on blue foods, ocean-based climate solutions, and sustainable ocean economies. I look forward to continued conversation in the O20 about how we can accelerate solutions around these key ocean priorities.”

Leape moderated a session at the O20 launch titled “Blue Food for Inclusive Growth.” There, panelists discussed transformations and technological innovations across policy and practice to ensure equitable blue food benefits. At the session, Leape discussed findings and policy recommendations from the Blue Food Assessment, an international joint initiative co-led by COS.

A World Economic Forum study, What Ocean Sustainability Means for Business—published in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group—highlights the positive change and growth that are possible if businesses and the G20 aid in accelerating ocean sustainability. It outlines both the challenges faced and the areas where business can make a transformative contribution to ocean health, which in turn feeds back to their own long-term viability and prosperity. 

The report also highlighted the Supply Chain Risk Project, a partnership between COS, Friends of Ocean Action, FishWise, and Global Fishing Watch, which aims to make data on illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing accessible to companies so they can better assess and act upon risk of illegal activities in their supply chains.

“For a truly thriving ocean that serves and safeguards people in all communities and is strong in its role of buffering us against the worst effects of the climate crisis, we need all stakeholders coming together to tackle the greatest challenges facing the ocean today,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

One key challenge brought to light in the study is that ineffective governance represents a paralyzing block to the advancement of a truly sustainable ocean economy. It acknowledges that addressing this challenge urgently requires an integrated and holistic approach to ocean management in order to stop and reverse the current decline in ocean health. O20 is being created to help, among others, bridge this gap.

“Through O20 we are helping drive an agenda that brings G20 governments, businesses and other stakeholders together to commit and take action for a healthy ocean,” Schwab added.

“Indonesia takes pride in initiating O20. It is part of our commitment to protecting oceans and building a sustainable ocean economy. We invite all G20 leaders to contribute actively to these critical endeavors, including by allocating necessary means and resources. Let us collaborate to sustain a healthy planet and oceans for the next generations,” said Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia.

The O20 will engage leaders in dedicated working groups to translate ambition to commitment and action for a healthy ocean. It will continue with its focus on key areas of sustainable ocean economy growth, from blue carbon and blue food to fast-tracking finance into ocean health, addressing the problems of plastic pollution, and climate change and embracing the opportunities of the energy transition

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