22 Takeaways from the 2022 One Ocean Summit

All you need to remember about this historic event

The One Ocean Summit in Brest began with high hopes. It was convened by the French president, Emmanuel Macron and its chief organizer, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor - France’s ambassador for the north and south poles and marine issues - who claimed it would create “unprecedented international political engagement” for a vast range of ocean problems. The big surprise was… it actually did. Sort of. After three days of non-stop work, more than 100 countries, hailing from all sea basins, contributed to the "Brest Ocean Commitments,” alongside the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Director General of UNESCO and the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization. Still, what are the concrete actions that will ensue from this marathon of conferences and handshaking? And what’s still missing? We’ve broken it down for you. 1) To combat plastic trash at sea, the French, German and Spanish national banks, as well as the European Investment Bank (EIB), have pledged a total of €4 billion by 2025 to establish the "Clean Oceans Initiative.

2) Dozens of corporations also outlined their new engagements to curb plastic use. Nestlé, announced a reduction of one third in its use of plastics as well as a commitment to reach 100% of their packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. 3) In order to preserve the high seas - which are beyond 200 nautical miles from national shores and hence outside state sovereignty - the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the formation of a "global coalition" made up of 27 EU countries and 16 non-EU nations to finalize the treaty on the sustainable use of the high seas and the conservation of its biodiversity. 4) Fourteen countries also announced measures to strengthen the fight against illegal fishing, such as improving controls in landing ports and mobilizing national navies to monitor illegal fishing.

5) Six countries have committed to ratify, before the October 2022 deadline, the Cape Town agreement of the International Maritime Organization, which will then finally be able to come into force and set safety standards for fishing vessels. 6) Two new countries will ratify the FAO Port State Measures Agreement, which allows for better control of fishing activities at landing ports. 7) Several European Union member states will mobilize their State Navy in a new framework of missions abroad to strengthen the surveillance of illegal fishing, implementing the European regulation of 2008. 8) In order to reduce air pollution, all Mediterranean countries, joined by the European Union, have committed to ask the IMO to create a low sulfur emission zone across the entire Mediterranean by January 1, 2025.

9) France, Spain, Italy and Monaco will also ask the IMO this summer for the creation of a Particularly Vulnerable Maritime Area with regard to the strong presence of cetaceans, in order to be able to limit the speed of navigation there and thus reduce collisions. 10) 22 European shipowners have committed to the new Green Marine Europe label, applying very concrete measures in eight areas: underwater noise, polluting atmospheric emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, invasive aquatic species, management of residual materials, oily discharges and ship recycling. 11) More nations have joined the coalition with the goal of "protecting 30% of the world's land and sea by 2030,” which was formed at the One Planet Summit in January 2021 - bringing the total number of countries to 84. 12) Another 35 key companies have pledged to "accelerate the provision of power to ships in port" in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air pollution in often dense port cities. 13) The national natural reserve of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) will be expanded to the Crozet and Kerguelen archipelagos, as well as the Indian Ocean islands of Saint-Paul and Amsterdam, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Brest for the event's final day. It will then become the world's second biggest maritime protected area.

14) Launched by President von der Leyen during the One Ocean Summit, a digital ocean platform – the European Digital Twin Ocean – will place the EU as a digital champion for the ocean. 15) The EU will work to enhance ocean literacy by education and investing in research through, for example, the EU4Ocean coalition. It’s a bottom-up initiative bringing together different partners to share knowledge and improve ocean literacy and sustainable management.

16) UNESCO pledged to have at least 80% of the seabed mapped by 2030.

17) Mayors and Governors of coastal cities signed the Sea'ties Declaration, encouraging national governments and the international community to step up mitigation and adaptation efforts to reduce the effects of rising sea levels on their communities.

18) Tourism leaders also pledged to protect the waters that sustain them. Industry mammoths like Accor, ClubMed, Costa Cruises and Iberostar Group all pledged to take concrete action from plastic banning to building electrical cruise ships. Their cooperation is crucial since tourism represents 40% of the blue economy. 19) The summit also explored how pioneering industries can help protect the ocean. A particularly promising one appears to be seaweed farming, which can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including food, medicinal, plastic replacement, and decarbonization.

20) While these are all promising initiatives, there was still much left undone at the Summit - from establishing broader implementation systems to the concrete financing of new solutions and adaptation measures for coastal communities. Activists also complained of “blue washing” by large corporations and the underrepresentation of local and indigenous communities. 21) The work initiated by this unprecedented summit should enable progress to be made on the high seas management framework”, particularly at a meeting in New York in March, to adopt the agreement before the end of the year.

22) All these announcements and commitments should also take shape ahead of the second United Nations Conference on the Ocean in Lisbon in June, whose purpose is to assess the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 targets.