World Ocean Summit: Countries need to start viewing ocean conservation as a “bankable” investment

By Elliot Bullman

While ocean health is increasingly on the agenda of nations around the world, many are struggling to fund projects to protect seas and oceans.

Countries need to start viewing ocean conservation as a “bankable” investment to attract funding for initiatives to cut pollution and protect industries like fishing, said political and economic leaders.

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While ocean health is increasingly on the agenda of nations around the world, many are struggling to fund projects to protect seas and oceans.

If we don’t make sure that we stop the pollution, stop the acidification of our oceans, large countries will have economic problems,” said Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway.

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“Short-term interests are in conflict with long-term economic interest for all coastal countries,” she said via video link to the three-day summit in the Mexican resort of Playa del Carmen, which ended on Friday.

Rampant over-fishing, rising temperatures and pollution - particularly trillions of pieces of plastic - are degrading oceans that cover 97 percent of the planet’s surface and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people.

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Much of the capital needed would have to come from the private sector, speakers said, as long-term ocean investment often loses out to immediate demands on government budgets, such as poverty reduction or healthcare.

Making fisheries more sustainable, for example, could ensure higher future returns by boosting production. Participants also cited tourism and renewable energy as industries that could generate returns on investment in conservation.

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Highlighting the importance of conserving key habitats, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto said 23 percent of his country’s marine and coastal areas are now under protection.

To accomplish the sustainable use of resources, we need to strike a balance between the desire to exploit them with the need of protecting it,” he told the summit.

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