The landscape for oceans is changing rapidly, and not uniformly in a bad way – there are positive trends and accomplishments. We seem to be moving from exclusively doom and gloom messages about the ocean to a new phase of ocean optimism — where solutions for adapting and mitigating to human and climate related pressures, and for sustainably using ocean resources, are currently available and being implemented. However, most members of the general public, policy-makers, ocean scientists and engineers, and even some conservationists, are not fully aware of all that has been accomplished with and what could be accomplished in the near-term based on existing solutions and initiatives. As such, there is a growing need to coordinate and integrate the science and engineering to generate the knowledge base that enables ocean solutions.
This OceanVisions initiative aims to (1) develop a forum where scientists and engineers can discuss and exchange their research in the context of ocean solutions, (2) generate an integrated and adaptive knowledge base of science and engineering that informs ocean solutions, (3) highlight the natural and social sciences, and engineering that enable ocean solutions and raise awareness by inspiring younger generation of ocean experts and leaders, and (4) engage with stakeholders and decision-makers in order to establish a concrete pathway for translating science and engineering into applications for ocean solutions, and to develop innovative research efforts that build on synergies between academic institutions, NGOs, government and industry.
Diverse examples of ocean solutions include everything from ocean conservation programs that enhance climate resilience/resistance (e.g. reduce local stressors), to strategies that directly aid ecosystems and organisms facing climate change (e.g. assisted evolution or migration), to win-win conservation that also promotes reduced CO2 emissions or CO2 drawdown (e.g. restoring wetlands, plastic waste solutions), to ocean-based energy production systems that replace fossil fuel based energy sources (e.g. ocean wind power), to reduced energy demands via increased ocean-related efficiency (e.g. ship designs), to innovative developments of sustainable ocean-reliant communities, infrastructures and food production systems.
The initiative is co-organized by the Georgia Tech's Ocean Science and Engineering program, Smithsonian Ocean Portal, Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solution and Woods Institute for the Environment, and the Scripps Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation. A set of initial activities are planned for the period May 2018 to October 2019. These include the 1st International summit OceanVisions2019 – Climate Successes in Resilience, Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainability in collaboration with the IOC-UNESCO and the Ocean Conservancy to be held at Georgia Tech; the launch of a new Ocean Tethys Award and Lecture; a special collection of peer-reviewed articles in the journal of Frontiers of Marine Sciences; and an Uncommon Dialogue with stakeholders at Stanford to feature and discuss a subset of the success stories identified during the summit and the special issue.
Emanuele Di Lorenzo
Key outcomes of OceanVisions
- Establish a forum for scientists and engineers to develop the knowledge base required for innovative ocean solutions strategies
- Enable grassroots efforts and empower the younger generations of ocean researchers and leaders, especially from developing countries
- Develop a trusted source of information on ocean threats and solutions
- Raise awareness in the science and engineering community about stories of ocean success
- Unleash new funds to seed multiple-scale efforts to research and implement new ocean solutions
Joining and leveraging ongoing efforts
The initiative will join, collaborate with, and leverage ongoing efforts in the sphere of ocean solutions such as:
- UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable development, coordinated by IOC-UNESCO
- Ongoing conservation efforts at the Ocean Conservancy (http://oceanconservancy.org)
- Self-organized social movement such as #OceanOptimism (www.oceanoptimism.org)
- The Ocean Health Index science project (http://www.oceanhealthindex.org/)
- Social action movement Blue Frontier (http://bluefront.org)