Dialogue mobilizes over twenty Foundations to build ocean partnerships for the next decade

Over twenty of the world’s leading ocean-minded Foundations took part in a two-day dialogue on building partnerships to enhance and drive ocean action into the next Decade. Co-organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and Velux Foundations (Denmark), the international dialogue has triggered a series of outreach initiatives aimed at mobilizing the global philanthropic community around the upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

The United Nations Ocean Decade presents a historic opportunity to reverse the decline in ocean health and achieve the 2030 Agenda by advancing scientific knowledge, fostering technological innovation and building capacity. But to succeed in this transformative endeavour, the international community must engage with the fastest-growing sector in the fields of technological innovation and social transformation, the world of philanthropy.

Though the role of public financing for ocean science and management remains dominant across the globe, the balance is shifting to accommodate the growing importance of philanthropic actors. Foundations and private donors are engaging ocean science at increasingly active levels, financing ground-breaking research, developing innovative solutions to ocean-related developmental issues, and contributing to policy and scientific priorities setting.

Hosted by Denmark’s THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS at the Danish Royal Academy of Science and Letters, the Foundations Dialogue for the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development welcomed at once foundations interested in the Decade’s potential for scientific and social transformation, and foundations who have already made solid contributions or commitments to Decade preparatory activities.

“The Velux Foundations wish to contribute to a sustainable balance between the use and the conservation of our ocean resources. A healthy ocean is part of the answer to solving climate change, feeding a growing population and getting clean reliable energy. The Ocean Decade is a unique opportunity to drive action and build global momentum towards a healthy ocean. We are proud of partnering with IOC UNESCO to foster dialogue with foundations on this crucial agenda,” reiterated Hans Kann-Rasmussen, Chair of THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS.

The Dialogue presented the objectives of the UN Ocean Decade, opening a global conversation about how to accelerate ongoing and potential initiatives, partnerships and issue platforms in the next ten years, and what this implies in terms of opportunities for philanthropic actors. Through interactive thematic and networking sessions, participating Foundations discussed how they can work together around specific contributions to the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Foundations Dialogue for the UN Ocean Decade is a first step to acknowledge and fully incorporate philanthropy as a driving force for delivering the ocean we need by 2030. Partnerships within this sector will be key to a successful and meaningful Decade, so it only makes sense that we spend as much time and make as much effort as it takes to build a strong basis and framework for these partnerships to flourish, aligned with the Decade objectives,” explained Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

Foundation representatives welcomed the truly consultative nature of the meeting: “I had questions about the meeting before deciding to attend. What convinced me was the affirmation by UNESCO’s IOC of the importance of both exploratory and solutions-inspired science to support the Ocean Decade, and that the IOC and Velux Foundations wished to facilitate dialogue among philanthropies that support such research. I look forward to how the conversation evolves,” said Jon Kaye, Science Program Director at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The Dialogue gathered members from the top leadership of philanthropic institutions engaged in ocean issues worldwide. And it could not come at a better time for changing the tide against an increasingly threatened marine environment, and in a difficult context for many countries and regions struggling to mobilize the resources and develop the capacities required to fulfil commitments around the sustainable development goals.

“Talent is equally distributed among people and countries, but opportunity is now. In the next ten years we need to build those opportunities. In a respectful collaborative approach between developed and developing countries,” urged Asha de Vos during her testimonial about the importance of ocean science to developing countries. Ms de Vos is the Founder and Executive Director of Oceanswell, a Sri Lanka-based marine conservation research and education organization.

“Foundations like the Group Boticario Foundation have an important role in generating good science, delivering inspiring communication and engaging society for marine conservation. We are strongly committed to getting the best possible results from our investment on conservation and the Ocean Decade is an opportunity to amplify our impact,” said Ariel Scheffer da Silva, Vice-President of the Boticario Group Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Focused on fostering concrete collaboration between the world’s major ocean philanthropies, the Foundations Dialogue marked the signing of new partnerships in support of the UN Decade.

Signed in the presence of the REV Ocean CEO, Nina Jensen, and the Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s IOC, Vladimir Ryabinin, the new partnership between the two organizations will contribute to common areas of activities in the context of the Ocean Decade such as facilitating open access ocean data, promoting marine scientific research using the REV Ocean vessel, and promoting capacity building and enhancement.

REV Ocean CEO Nina Jensen said: “We are super-excited to be working with the IOC which is an extremely important organization for fostering international cooperation in ocean research and management. This is a partnership that is designed to achieve concrete and important results for the health of the ocean, and we can’t wait to get started on our joint initiatives. We will be strong supporters of the UN Decade of Ocean Science and tailor our activities to maximize synergies. We encourage everyone in the ocean space to do the same.”

REV Ocean also signed a partnership with The Ocean Foundation focused on offsetting REV’s carbon emissions via the SeaGrass Grow programme, and on providing grantmaking assistance for science residents on board the REV Ocean vessel working to develop solutions for ocean acidification and plastic pollution.

Building on the Foundations Dialogue, UNESCO’s IOC will continue to mobilize the philanthropic sector to design a fit-for-purpose Ocean Decade in which Foundations play a critical role in setting priorities for resource mobilization and fostering partnerships for financing scientific innovation. Foundations will also be invited to join the Ocean Decade Alliance at a high level launch event during the UN 2020 Ocean Conference (Lisbon, 2-6 June).

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