World Ocean Day 2021: One Ocean, One Climate, One Future – Together

World Ocean Day 2021: One Ocean, One Climate, One Future – Together

©David Howells 2021

By: Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

You may have heard me speak more than once about the momentum that’s building, the opportunity ahead, and the role we all play in the future of our ocean – this is a message worth repeating. In just over a week, on World Ocean Day, the world will come together around the theme of “One Ocean, One Climate, One Future – Together.” This is an important conversation for the world and for Canada – not just on June 8th but also as we consider what we need to do to best manage this incredible resource that has provided for us for centuries and will serve as an instrumental driver in achieving our environmental and economic targets now and in the future. I wanted to share reflections on a couple of increasingly important topics on this journey.

The conversation around moving to net-zero is accelerating around the world.  The United States, with new leadership, rejoined the Paris Agreement and hosted a virtual leader’s summit on climate change on World Earth Day with several countries speaking about their commitment to the environment and climate change goals.  The President shared in his remarks that “Countries who take decisive action now to create the industries of the future will be the ones that reap the economic benefits of the clean energy boom that’s coming.” This conversation is expected to continue to accelerate as we move towards the UN Climate Change Conference, Cop26 in Glasgow in November. Canada continues to build on its commitment to climate action in Budget 2021 proposing to provide $17.6 billion towards a green recovery to create jobs, build a clean economy, and fight and protect against climate change.

Covering 70 per cent of the planet, our ocean is absorbing significant amounts of carbon and exhibiting increasing impacts of climate change. A recent article in The Conversation talks about the key role of the North Atlantic as the most intense carbon sink in the world and its importance in our net-zero future.  Any net-zero conversation needs to consider not only the actions we are taking on land but those that need to be taken in the ocean.  As an example, as discussed at the recent Seaweed Days event in BC, seaweed has an important role to play in absorbing CO2. Net-zero is also an increasing focus of our supercluster projects with themes like electrification, carbon capture and alternative fuels. Two other examples of initiatives over the last few months include the launch of the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies and the Clean Resource Innovation Network’s launch of their competitions, both working to contribute to the journey towards net-zero.

While we have always spoken about the balance of ocean health and ocean wealth, now is the time to ensure we keep both in mind not only as Canada develops its Blue Economy Strategy but also as a key part of Canada’s climate action investments.

To achieve our ocean ambition for Canada, we need to bring all perspectives to the conversation. The OSC is a participant in Canada’s 50-30 Challenge actively working to increase diversity in our team. I am excited to follow the Indigenous Career Pivot Pilot webseries videos and get some perspective on the journey of those participating in this pilot. Our Ocean Allies project has issued its Navigating Change report looking at some of the barriers to inclusion in the ocean economy and has been hosting a series of coffee chats to create a space for this important conversation. I also had the opportunity to participate in a recent diversity forum and hear more about the challenges faced by people with disabilities, impressed by how much these individuals have achieved in the face of these challenges.  There is still much to do to create equal opportunities for all.

I am inspired by the momentum we have already achieved across Canada and believe we have opportunities to lead the world through an ocean economy that is digital, sustainable and inclusive. Our many projects demonstrate a commitment to this vision by project participants along with the increasing number of ocean-related activities across the country.  This is not only a big year for the Ocean Supercluster but for the entire Canadian ocean economy as we continue to position ourselves to take advantage of the sustainable growth opportunity our ocean represents on the path to economic recovery.