NEWS 2022-05-10

The state of the ocean

How can science, policy and business achieve sustainability in an increasingly crowded ocean? This was the theme for a half day seminar 3 May at the Academy where all participants emphasised the urgency of action.

Beatrice Crona giving an overview of the state of the ocean. Photo: Eva Nevelius/KVA

The seminar was organised by the Beijer Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, and their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway.

Royal committment to the ocean

HRH Crown Princess Victoria and HRH Crown Prince Haakon are both actively engaged in ocean sustainability. The Swedish Crown Princess has for several years been closely engaged with the SeaBOS initiative, a collaboration between the ten largest seafood companies in the world and leading marine scientists.

Read more about SeaBOS

During the seminar, Their Royal Highnesses highlighted both countries’ close connection to the ocean and emphasized the need to become better stewards of it.

“We share a true passion for the ocean. We need to bring the ocean back into balance. We have a collective opportunity. Let’s take care of the ocean and thereby take care of ourselves,” Crown prince Haakon said.

”What we need now is no more promises, but to think and act together and demonstrate real results”, Crown Princess Victoria emphasised.

A race for the ocean

Beatrice Crona, executive director of the Academy’s GEDB program and deputy science director at SRC, provided a comprehensive overview of how the human pressure on the world’s ocean shows no sign of slowing. This has significant consequences for the ocean ecosystems.

Of the 14 biggest ocean sectors currently operating, such as shipping, oil and gas, and telecommunications, 13 of them have a negative environmental impact.

“We must ask ourselves, can the blue economy continue to grow?” Beatrice Crona said.

Partnerships for the future

One solution may be found in new collaborations between science and business. Centre researcher Robert Blasiak highlighted the process that eventually lead to Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS) and explained how real progress is now taking place within the initiative with potential great benefit for the ocean.

Vidar Helgesen, CEO of the Nobel Foundation and co-chair advisory council to the UN Decade of Ocean Science showed how science can lay the foundation for sound policies.

Like all the other participants, he emphasized the urgency of action. Both the speed of change and the opportunities available are accelerating. To deal with both, science plays a crucial role. While politics is “one damn thing after another”, science provides new insights based on rigid processes, he added.

A panel discussion followed with Sturla Henriksen, Special Advisor, Ocean, United Nations Global Compact, Helen Ågren, Ambassador for the Ocean at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Marte Ellingsen Tyldum, Director of Sustainability at Kongsberg Maritime in Norway. All three highlighted the importance of science-based, urgent progress towards ocean sustainability. Tyldum emphasized the importance of “nurturing the virtue of science”, while Henriksen pointed out that the current decade of ocean science is also a decade of enlightenment.

Finally, centre director Line Gordon ended the seminar with a summary of the various talks. She too empathized the importance of working across sectors and disciplines to make sure “the human ocean” is managed in a sustainable way.