2020 has been billed as the “Ocean Super Year” with numerous high-level events poised to address and take action against major ocean challenges--the keystone being the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. To make the most of this platform, Oceano Azul Foundation, Ocean Unite and Oak Foundation brought together a unique group of influential ocean organizations and foundations to create RISE UP - A Blue Call to Action to accelerate progress toward SDG 14.
RISE UP, already supported by many of the world’s most preeminent conservation organizations, outlines bold and scientifically rigorous sustainability priorities that, when enacted, can pave the way toward a “healthy blue future.” Despite the current global shift in activities, 2020 can still be a year where we, as a global community continue to RISE UP for the ocean.
RISE UP outlines six key areas that governments and businesses can take action to restore our ocean. All of them are vital, but for youth, a few stand out:
Policymakers must curb the use of destructive and wasteful fishing practices. Depleted fish stocks can often recover, but the damage from habitat destruction can persist for generations.
Climate change presents the single greatest threat to our ocean and our future--and we need “enhanced ambition” in each and every country. All young people have a vested interest in joining the frontlines of climate activism and pushing their countries further. By channeling real investment in the ideas of young people, our collective transition towards a circular and sustainable economy, fueled by green energy, can become a reality.
Finally, we need new agreements that protect the high seas, prevent the destruction of deep sea resources for short-term gains, and dramatically increase the percentage of our ocean, and its biodiversity, that is protected. The ocean belongs equally to those today as it does to those in the future.
Recognizing RISE UP’s particular significance for young people and the need to catalyze ambitious action for the ocean, Sustainable Ocean Alliance recently endorsed the RISE UP Blue Call to Action. We were the first youth-led and youth-focused organizations to do so, and we did for good reason.
For youth, the adoption of the RISE UP platform brings our human-ocean relationship further in line with the precautionary principle and offers a chance at blue prosperity grounded in intergenerational justice. As our ocean is rife with plastic, overfished, and exploited for minerals, fossil fuels and other resources, it is clear that, to date, we have not adequately considered the impact of decisions on future generations. The RISE UP Blue Call to Action outlines a pathway forward for policy makers and business leaders to avoid our past mistakes, putting science, sustainability, the precautionary approach, and intergenerational justice at the forefront of decision making.
In the words of SOA’s CEO, Daniela Fernandez:
“If we, as the last generation capable of making significant strides in protecting our environment, are to rise to this challenge we need to design new models for collaboration, invest in emerging technologies, and redesign outdated systems that we have inherited.”
With this need for transformation in mind, we must demand that our governments, employers, schools, brands, and organizations support us in activating and realizing the RISE UP Blue Call to Action.
Likewise, SOA calls on all those governments, businesses, and organizations that endorse RISE UP to recognize the critical role that youth plays in achieving these goals and the SDG14 Targets. Young people under the age of 35 make up the majority in nearly every country of the developing world and our voices not only deserve to be heard, but equally weighed and considered. From here forward, we need a seat at the table, not just a seat in the room. We invite everyone to join us in supporting young leaders with the education, mentorship, resources, and opportunities to become unstoppable ocean champions, helping to translate initiatives such as RISE UP into action.
Without question, 2020 will be remembered in the history books, but we have the power to make sure it’s remembered for the transformation of our relationship with the planet, and the ocean. SOA, and its global community of young leaders, stand in solidarity to RISE UP for our ocean, and the original vision behind the Ocean Super Year. We ask you to join us in doing so--the youth of today and tomorrow surely will thank those that do.