Australians have a deep connection to our coasts, beaches and surrounding seas. As an island nation on the blue planet, it is no surprise that there are hundreds of organisations, institutions, communities and individuals invested in using, valuing, managing and governing the ocean. We work and play, explore and enjoy our ocean. Our lives are interconnected with its ubiquitous influence.
However, the coastal environments and ocean Australian’s love is being challenged by multiple threats including climate change, coastal development and increasing use, all of which place compounding pressures on marine environments. To bring about the systemic change required to achieve the ‘ocean we want’ it is broadly acknowledged that there is a need for a step-change in the relationship humans have with the ocean.
In response to growing recognition that the health of the ocean is declining and use of the ocean continues to be unsustainable, the United Nations (UN) declared in 2017 that 2021-2030 was to be The Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the Ocean Decade) with a vision to ‘deliver the science we need for the ocean we want’.
Recognition of the dependence of society on the ocean, the opportunities that the ocean provides to future economies, and the need to ensure that current threats are reduced, future threats are mitigated and ongoing use of the ocean is sustainable has also been recognised through the commitments of 16 countries, including Australia, through the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. This panel of 16 heads of state has committed to a series of transformations that are needed to ensure that the opportunities provided through the blue economy to each country can be realised in a manner that ensures the ongoing health of the ocean and the services it provides to society.
Concurrently the many regional initiatives (e.g. the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive, G7 Future of Seas and Oceans Initiative) and most recently through specific focus on the ocean during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP26) provides a unique opportunity that we have not seen before in galvanising ocean stakeholders. To create the change required, it is recognised that all parts of society must come together, build understanding, create solutions and enact those solutions into the mainstream.
By connecting Australia’s ocean stakeholders we will achieve greater understanding of the ocean ecosystem and the role of food, energy, weather and climate, biodiversity, value, and support the exchange of key information required for creating solutions.
Ocean Decade Australia is dedicated to seeking a shared vision for Australia's Ocean future that is inclusive and reflects the breadth and diversity of stakeholders.