As we look ahead to a new year, I’m inspired by the growing ocean-climate solutions community that Ocean Visions has been proud to help nurture.
Some of you may remember when Ocean Visions first launched in 2019. Propelled by visionary founders and a network of leading academic and oceanographic institutions, Ocean Visions was born with the purpose to create new solutions to the most pressing ocean problems by galvanizing multisector collaborations to help invent, shape, and test innovations to repair and restore the ocean—improving the wellbeing of humanity and nature.
An Ambtious Early Agenda
From the start, we set a very ambitious agenda: directly confront, slow, and ultimately reverse, dangerous climate disruption—the top threat to the ocean—by harnessing the power of human ingenuity and the ocean itself.
Our first signature program focused on advancing understanding, research, and development of pathways to clean up carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere via the power of the ocean—also known as marine carbon dioxide removal (mCDR). Working with experts from around the world, and with generous support from our funders, we led the co-creation of a series of road maps to help identify the current state of development in mCDR and what is needed to advance and test potential solutions at scale.
Following the release of the first maps, the growing team at Ocean Visions turned its attention to catalyzing initiatives to address the priorities identified in the maps. For example, we began to provide expert technical advice and evaluation to mCDR innovators through our Launchpad program, using experts drawn from our Network. We led and supported grantmaking in the field, including for ocean alkalinity enhancement, and we helped design detailed research agendas, such as our framework for cultivating and sinking seaweed.
We’ve been proud to see these and other related efforts contribute to a rising tide of attention and action around the development mCDR—all in just a few short years.
We are also proud of the growing group of “solvers” that have been nurtured by community-activating strategies like our biennial Summit and the Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions.
Bolder Ocean-Climate Action
And now, amidst intensifying climate impacts to our ocean and planet, we’ve expanded our focus. Last year we unveiled a four-part strategy and agenda designed to more comprehensively support a wider range of ocean-based pathways to address the interlocking ocean-climate crisis. We call it the “4Rs”:
– Reduce CO₂ Emissions: There is no viable future without a transition to a low-carbon economy, a transition the ocean can aid in via provision of low-carbon food, energy, bioproducts, and transportation alternatives.
– Remove CO₂ Pollution: Simultaneously, we also must clean up legacy carbon pollution in order to return to a safer and more stable climate, and the size and power of the ocean offers great potential to help us draw down and safely store carbon pollution.
– Repair: While we work to slowly cool the planet and rebalance the global carbon cycle via the two elements above, we also need to avoid catastrophic loss of critical marine ecosystems, which may require new interventions.
– Reach: None of this will be possible at a meaningful scale without an ever-growing, diverse, and inclusive global community of innovators and practitioners to develop and implement the needed solutions.
Much of this work was well underway in 2023. The new year brings with it increased urgency to accelerate our efforts and strengthen our role as a convener and catalyzer of action. We will continue to focus on underinvested areas of opportunity across our 4R agenda, and on activating a growing ocean-climate solutions community to produce the wide array of new tools that we need now to slow and mitigate climate-fueled damages to the ocean.
In my years of conservation experience at the intersection of science, policy, and environmental innovation, I have seen no bigger challenge than the climate emergency our global society is faced with today. I believe it is our moral obligation to explore all possible solutions to this crisis—a sentiment that I imagine would be shared by future generations as well as all the voiceless species we share the planet with. We are working on our and their behalf, and that provides me with the motivation I need to move forward with purpose.
We can—and must—generate and deploy new solutions to help restore the climate and our ocean. I am extremely grateful for allies like you, whose enthusiasm and expertise inspires me.
From all of us here at Ocean Visions, we thank you for your partnership in this race to avert dangerous climate change and heal our ocean and planet.
CEO, Ocean Visions