Last December at COP25, the UN Global Compact and the Spanish Network of the Global Compact presented the Principles for a Sustainable Ocean, a framework of the Global Compact to guide the contribution of companies to the care of the oceans, which has already been signed by more than 35 companies. These Principles were launched last September regarding to the United Nations Oceans Summit in 2020 and are intended to support efforts to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Programme of Action of 2030. They are based on the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption and are differentiated into three blocks: (1) Ocean Health and Productivity; (2) Governance and Commitment; and (3) Data and Transparency.

The session was opened by authorities from the Spanish Government, with Federico Buyolo, General Manager of the Office of the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, and from Norway, with the Minister of Climate and Environment in Norway, Vidar Helgesen. Both have highlighted the need to promote specific measures to ensure the health of the marine ecosystem. In particular, Federico Buyolo stated: ‘It is time to believe that we have the necessary capacities for companies, institutions, people and governments to inaugurate a new decade for the 2030 Agenda; it is time to accelerate action and that the oceans are also a reference framework for our actions’.

The event also brought together business leaders and experts who, through a discussion panel, debated how the leading ocean industries can play an important role in keeping global warming at a maximum of 1.5°C. To achieve this goal, companies can commit to setting climate targets across their operations and value chains in line with a 1.5°C trajectory and achieve zero net emissions by 2050.

The meeting also discussed the results of the reports The Ocean as a Solution for Climate Change: 5 Opportunities for Action, and The Global Goals, Ocean Opportunities Report, as guidelines for action for the private sector.

The opportunities are precisely what the UN Global Compact environment and climate manager, Ignace Beguin Billecocq, has been talking about, emphasizing that ‘we have to put the focus on our oceans, they are basic for industry in general and for productivity’.

In particular, some opportunities that can be found in the proper management of the oceans are related to renewable energy, such as offshore wind energy, wave energy and tidal energy, areas that are being explored to their full potential. And not only in the energy sector, other sectors such as food, health, mining or transport offer many development possibilities connected to the marine environment. For example, maritime transport is expected to increase in all trade segments except crude oil and petroleum products. Ships, marine technology and shipping services are also key to supporting the growth of marine renewable energy production and the harvesting of marine products.

Embracing these Principles will require not only a paradigm shift in terms of integrating sustainability into business operations, but also substantial coordination between governments, civil society and industries.