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The first Ocean Risk Summit discussed the latest research on the interrelated changes taking place in the ocean, covering issues from threats to global food security and human health, to the impacts of hurricanes on communities, ecosystems and businesses.

Participants discussed topics related to ocean risk, including natural capital and ecosystem services; cities, islands, coastal infrastructure and tourism; regenerating ocean life; fishing and aquaculture; and marine pollution, including litter and microplastics.

11 May 2018: Participants at the Ocean Risk Summit focused on ocean change, managing and reducing ocean risk, building resilience, and applied solutions. The Summit featured keynote addresses, recommendations to address ocean risk, announcements on new initiatives, and the launch of two publications.

Insurance and reinsurance group XL Catlin organized the Summit in partnership with Ocean Unite, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, the Bermuda Business Development Agency, and other scientific and Bermuda-based partners. The Summit convened from 8-10 May 2018 in Bermuda.

The Summit convened in five working groups to discuss: natural capital and ecosystem services; cities, islands, coastal infrastructure and tourism; regenerating ocean life; fishing and aquaculture; and marine pollution, including litter and microplastics. The Summit also addressed technological advances for ocean data collection and discussing innovative solutions, including novel financial instruments, with the aim of creating the necessary synergies to address ocean-related challenges. Summit working groups agreed on concrete recommendations for addressing ocean risks, including a recommendation to use open data to make SDG 14 (life below water) the most transparent of all SDGs.

During a session on resilience, Robert Powell, The Economist Intelligence Unit, presented the idea of developing an ocean risk index to better understand the ocean and identify practical solutions to address and mitigate risk. He explained an ocean risk index would address the lack of measurable indicators on ocean risk in the existing literature and link the state of the ocean directly to human vulnerability.

A session focused on progress made since the 2016 Global Ocean Commission report ‘From Decline to Recovery.’ José María Figueres, Former President of Costa Rica and Founder of Ocean Unite, John Podesta, Center for American Progress, and UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, exchanged reflections on lessons learned, which could inform future actions for sustainable ocean management. Figueres stressed that the report included eight concrete recommendations, noting that some, including a stand-alone SDG on the oceans, have been implemented. Podesta emphasized that it was the Commission’s decision to focus on the high seas, underscoring the importance of creating holistic, regional management systems that address more than fish stocks. Thomson underscored the cycle of decline in which the ocean is caught and the need to provide a foundation to assess progress. He highlighted recent developments in high-seas management, emphasizing the negotiations for an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Participants announced two new initiatives. XL Catlin and the Stimson Center announced a joint initiative, which will examine illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, climate change and urban migration in coastal geographies, focusing first on Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. A predictive mapping model will be developed that will help identify the developing coastal nations that are most at risk from climate change. The Nature Conservancy and XL Catlin announced a project to explore the development of ‘Blue Carbon Resilience Credits,’ combining benefits from coastal resilience and carbon sequestration. Two publications were also launched: ‘Ocean Connections: An Introduction to Rising Risks from a Warming, Changing Ocean’ and ‘Ocean Risk and the Insurance Industry.’

During the closing plenary, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, Dominic LeBlanc, echoed the call for tougher language and actions on IUU and welcomed coordinated international responses for the sustainable development of the ocean, recalling Canada’s commitment to UNCLOS, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Hamilton Declaration. He stressed that under the Canadian Presidency, the Group of Seven (G7) will work towards securing sustainable ocean management, in collaboration with relevant UN agencies, local governments, development banks and financial institutions. [IISD RS Coverage of Ocean Risk Summit] [IISD RS Summary of Ocean Risk Summit] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Summit Publications]

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