UNSW research influences world leaders to sustainably manage 30 million square kilometres of ocean
In December 2020 the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy ('Ocean Panel')—comprised of the leaders of Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal—put forward a new ocean Action Agenda paired with bold commitments and new research. The 14 world leaders of the Ocean Panel committed to sustainably manage 100% of the ocean area under national jurisdiction by 2025, guided by Sustainable Ocean Plans and multi-stakeholder coalitions focused on ocean renewable energy, ocean accounting, shipping decarbonisation, tourism and blue food.
UNSW Scientia Fellow Dr Ben Milligan served as a member of the Ocean Panel’s Expert Group and—with colleagues from Yale University and the International Institute for Environment and Development—co-lead the preparation of “Blue Paper” recommendations to the Ocean Panel leaders on ocean accounting. These recommendations were taken up by the Panel through agreed commitments to: develop a complete sequence of linked environmental and economic ocean accounts to inform decision-making, align international standards for ocean accounting and best practices for implementation, commit to global partnerships to share best practices and build capacity, and explore a process to develop a global approach for tracking national performance towards sustainable development based on ocean accounts. These commitments support the achievement of many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 14 - Life Below Water.
UNSW is also playing a leading role in the global implementation of these commitments as a founding member and Secretariat of the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP)—one of several “Action Coalitions” tasked with supporting practical implementation activities in response to the Ocean Panel’s Action Agenda. The GOAP, which is Co-Chaired by the Canadian Government and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific with financial support from the World Bank Blue Economy Program, establishes a coordination and communication structure for diverse member institutions who have a common interest to ensure that the values and benefits of oceans are recognised and accounted for in decision-making about social and economic development. The Partnership seeks to achieve this objective through continued development of a shared technical framework for ocean accounting, coupled with collaborative capacity-building activities that support the development, maintenance, and ongoing use in decision-making, of holistic ocean accounts that link together social, environmental and economic statistics.