Defining the Blue Journey Loop for the sustainable future that we need

By Ignace Beguin Billecocq, Ocean and Coastal Zones Lead, Climate Champions; Eliza Northrop, Policy Lead, Global Ocean Program, World Resources Institute; Cyrielle Lâm, Project Officer, Ocean & Climate Platform; Marine Lecerf, International Policy Officer, Ocean & Climate Platform | November 4, 2022

Our planet’s vast ocean, its natural ecosystems and economic sectors, provide key opportunities to support global efforts to combat climate change. Research commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy found that full implementation of key ocean-based solutions in five sub-sectors (marine conservation, energy, transport, food and CCS) could reduce the emissions gap needed to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C by 21% annually by 2050.

In recent years, there has been a groundswell of momentum for these ocean-based climate solutions, including the Ocean for Climate Declaration, Rise Up – a Blue Call to Action, Because the Ocean Declarations, High Level Ocean Panel Call to Action, the Ocean Super Year Declaration, and the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People.

In addition to the increase in declarations, targets and pledges, what is needed now is the translation of this ambition into concrete action that delivers emissions reductions and increased resilience.

The Blue Breakthroughs: a direction of travel 

At UNFCCC COP26, 42 world leaders endorsed the Breakthrough Agenda  to rapidly scale up clean technologies in five economic sectors (Power, Road Transport, Steel, Hydrogen, and Agriculture) that collectively account for more than 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Implementation of the Breakthrough Agenda relies on increased collaboration between national governments and non-State actors towards specific milestones and targets, activating an “ambition loop” of climate action.

Using the Breakthrough Agenda as a framework and building on the United Nation Global Compact’s 5 Tipping Points for a Healthy and Productive Ocean, a set of five Blue Breakthroughs can be identified for ocean conservation, maritime transport, food from the ocean, renewable energy and coastal and marine tourism. Key to accelerating implementation of these ocean-based climate solutions is adequate and accessible public and private finance.

These Blue Breakthroughs are articulated in a new report along with highlights of non-State actor ambition towards each of the 2030 and 2050 goals, building from the Marrakesh Partnership Ocean Climate Pathway. Aggregating action towards each of the Blue Breakthroughs provides direction for investors and policymakers to enable the acceleration of ocean-based solutions. Together, non-State actor and government ambition towards each of these Blue Breakthroughs can create a Blue Ambition Loop that is fundamental to scalability and implementation.

In delivering ocean-based climate action, it is fundamental to simultaneously protect and restore the health of the ocean and its natural ecosystems. Climate change is a major driver of unprecedented biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, which in turn undermines the ocean’s ability to help mitigate climate change and to provide food and livelihoods to the coastal communities that rely on it.

The ocean is at the crossroads of all major challenges facing humanity today, and climate change and biodiversity loss are no exception. As these crises are so connected, the solutions must be as well. Across each of the Breakthroughs, impact on biodiversity  is  considered alongside impact on climate.

Tracking progress to drive implementation 

To understand the current condition of non-State actor action, the Blue Ambition Loop report provides a snapshot of current targets, commitments or pledges from companies, organizations, NGOs and cities. It aims to raise awareness around the amount of non-state actor commitments and progress regarding ocean-based climate action ahead of key international political moments, including COP27, CBD COP 15, COP28, UNGA and annual ocean-climate dialogues. This report will serve as a basis for further development and stock taking exercise for non-state actor action across the Blue Breakthroughs in advance of the Global Stocktake in 2023.