« Back to all resources

Evolving the narrative for protecting a rapidly changing ocean, post‐COVID‐19

Date publishedOctober 2020
FormatJournal - 23 pages
How long will it take to read?20 mins
Download linkClick here

During the recovery phase of COVID-19, the challenge will be how to sustain a green recovery and effectively communicate the need to address other crises, such as the climate emergency and the rapidly degrading ocean. This paper sets out an evolution of the narrative to put the ocean centre stage in such recovery processes.

Key Takeaways

  1. The ocean is the linchpin supporting life on Earth, but it is in declining health due to an increasing footprint of human use and climate change. Despite notable successes in helping to protect the ocean, the scale of actions is simply not now meeting the overriding scale and nature of the ocean’s problems that confront us.
  2. Moving into a post-COVID-19 world, new policy decisions will need to be made. Some, especially those developed prior to the pandemic, will require changes to their trajectories; others will emerge as a response to this global event. Reconnecting with nature, and specifically with the ocean, will take more than good intent and wishful thinking. Words, and how we express our connection to the ocean, clearly matter now more than ever before.
  3. The evolution of the ocean narrative, aimed at preserving and expanding options and opportunities for future generations and a healthier planet, is articulated around six themes: (1) all life is dependent on the ocean; (2) by harming the ocean, we harm ourselves; (3) by protecting the ocean, we protect ourselves; (4) humans, the ocean, biodiversity, and climate are inextricably linked; (5) ocean and climate action must be undertaken together; and (6) reversing ocean change needs action now.
  4. This narrative adopts a ‘One Health’ approach to protecting the ocean, addressing the whole Earth ocean system for better and more equitable social, cultural, economic, and environmental outcomes at its core. Speaking with one voice through a narrative that captures the latest science, concerns, and linkages to humanity is a precondition to action, by elevating humankind’s understanding of our relationship with ‘planet Ocean’ and why it needs to become a central theme to everyone’s lives. We have only one ocean, we must protect it, now. There is no ‘Ocean B’.