Climate change, piracy, illegal fishing, and plastics pollution are just some of the multiple problems facing the world’s oceans. Coordinated actions and policies are vital to try and address them, a recent IBC Business Briefings meeting discussed.
Held at the City Stacks bookstore in downtown Denver October 19, the meeting, attended by a group of internationally focused business leaders from the Denver Metro area, heard from two leaders in the fight for such coordinated action; Vicki Goldstein, founder and CEO of the Colorado Ocean Coalition Colorado Ocean, and Ernesto Penas Lado, Director of Policy Development and Coordination for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
“These are global problems and most of these challenges cannot be dealt with by the EU alone,” said Penas Lado who estimated the so-called “Blue Economy” as worth about $1.4 trillion a year in terms of maritime jobs around the world.
Finding global solutions to complex maritime problems can be very difficult, Goldstein agreed, citing the 2010 National Ocean Policy supported by President Obama as an example. “It is very difficult to coordinate enforcement.”
Still, there have been some notable successes with Penas Lado giving the example of South Korea which had consistently been fishing illegally in West Africa. When the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was made aware by the EU that its reputation as a reliable partner in international trade was at stake, the South Korean government became “a role model of reaction” with a “spectacular change,” he said. Similar progress with other countries such as the US, China, and Japan has been slow at best, Penas Lado added.
Nevertheless, with 70% of the world covered by oceans and with so many jobs depending on the Blue Economy, it is vital to keep instilling a sense of community around the oceans, Goldstein said.
The EU was at its best when it focuses on big picture concepts such as the Blue Economy, Penas Lado added.
“It is important to promote the exchange of information and to never lecture (other countries),” he said, giving the examples of China and Senegal.
IBC member Richard Robertson, Director at Sybro, a consulting company focused on green technology, said such events are a great way to find out more about subjects which are already of personal interest.
“I love the ocean and am aware of its profound importance to life on earth but I wanted to learn more about how economic incentives are being used to drive sustainable use of our ocean resources,” he said. “I like the way these briefings bring together a cross section of private and public sector executives and how I get to learn from some great subject matter experts as well as from each of the other attendees.”
The Business Briefings discussion groups are a series of IBC events aimed at provoking discussion on major foreign policy topics. The next event will be held November 9 and will look at the foreign policy objectives of the new US administration a day after the Presidential Election.