Oceanic Blue Carbon Voluntary Commitment

Published on June 9, 2017 under News
Oceanic Blue Carbon Voluntary Commitment

A Voluntary Commitment to the United Nations Ocean Conference.

Through this Oceanic Blue Carbon Voluntary Commitment we:

HIGHLIGHT the oceans’ critical importance to the global carbon cycle and subsequently to climate change. Ocean ecosystems represent the largest active carbon sink on Earth;

RECOGNIZE that certain coastal and ocean ecosystems can play an important role in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. These ecosystems include mangrove and kelp forests, seagrass meadows, and saltwater marshlands. In the open ocean, marine vertebrates, such as whales, sharks and finfish, may also contribute to the ocean’s carbon function;

DRAW ATTENTION TO the 28 countries that have included coastal ecosystems in climate change mitigation strategies in their Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the 36 countries that endorsed the ‘Resolution on Cetaceans and Ecosystem Services’ at the 2016 meeting of the International Whaling Commission, which recognizes that whale conservation may benefit the ocean and help fight climate change.

EXPRESS CONCERN over the continued human impacts on marine life and habitats that lead to degradation of ocean ecosystem health. Reduced ocean ecosystem health has the potential to reduce ocean carbon function and exacerbate global climate change. The carbon impacts of ocean ecosystem degradation have not been included in climate projections;

COMMIT to advance the following by 2020:

• Raise awareness and improve international recognition of the value of the conservation of marine ecosystems and ocean life in addressing the global climate challenge.
• Ask policy makers to include the carbon functions of coastal and oceanic marine ecosystems in strategies for conservation and climate change mitigation.
• Support cross-disciplinary research to improve understanding and quantification of the role of marine ecosystems and ocean life in the global carbon cycle, including the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and storage in the oceans.


By December 2020 International recognition of the value of the conservation of marine ecosystems and marine life in addressing the global climate challenge.
By December 2020 The carbon functions of coastal and oceanic marine ecosystems included in strategies for conservation and climate change mitigation.
By December 2020 Improved scientific understanding and quantification of the contribution of marine ecosystems and ocean life to the carbon cycle, including the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and storage in the oceans.

SDG 14 Targets Covered by Commitment

14.2 By 2020, sustainably manage, and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience and take action for their restoration, to achieve healthy and productive oceans.
14.4 By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting, and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.
14.5 By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on best available scientific information.
14.a Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacities and transfer marine technology taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular SIDS and LDCs.

Linkages to Other Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Lead Entity

Blue Climate Solutions, a project of The Ocean Foundation, USA

Partners and Beneficiaries

United Nations entity:
UN Environment, through the Global Environment Facility Blue Forests Project, Kenya;

Non-governmental organizations (48):
Animal Welfare Institute, USA;
Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australia;
Blue Climate Solutions, USA;
Blue Mind Life, USA;
Blue Ocean Institute, USA;
Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, Cook Islands;
Centro de Conservacion Cetacea (CCC), Chile;
Cet Law Inc., USA;
EarthEcho International, USA;
Earth2Ocean, Inc., USA;
Friends of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument (FOMTM), USA;
Fundación Promar, Costa Rica;
Global Coral Reef Alliance, USA;
Global Ocean Trust, USA;
Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine e.V. (GRD)/Society for Dolphin Conservation, Germany;
GRID-Arendal, Norway;
High Seas Alliance, USA;
Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas, Argentina;
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IWAF), USA;
La Tortuga Viva, Mexico;
Living Oceans Society, USA;
Marine Change, Indonesia;
Marine Conservation Institute, USA;
Mission Blue, USA;
No Whales in Captivity, Canada;
Ocean Conservation and Research, USA;
Ocean Conservation Society, USA;
Ocean First Institute, USA;
Ocean Revolution, USA;
Ocean Unite, UK;
One More Generation, USA;
Organization for Research and Conservation of Aquatic Animals (ORCA), Peru
Project Seahorse, Canada;
Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations (SCRFA), USA;
Sea Shepherd, USA;
Snorkel Bob Foundation, USA;
Tara Expeditions, France;
Te Mana O Te Moana, French Polynesia;
Tethys Research Institute, Italy;
The Global Tuna Conservation Project, USA;
The Ocean Foundation, USA;
The Science Exchange, USA;
Tonga Voyaging Society, Tonga;
Turtle Island Restoration Network, USA;
Wild Earth Allies, USA;
World Wildlife Fund International, Switzerland.

Research Organisation:
Ocean and Coastal Policy Program, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, USA.

Scientific Community (56):
Gill Ainsworth, PhD, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK;
Rohan Arthur, PhD, Oceans and Coasts Programme, Nature Conservation Foundation, India;
Robert Baldwin, Managing Director and Marine Scientist, Five Oceans Environmental Services LLC, Sultanate of Oman;
Jay Barlow, PhD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of San Diego, USA; President, Society for Marine Mammalogy, USA;
Nicola Beaumont, PhD, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK;
Jessica Blythe, PhD, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, World Fish, James Cook University, Australia;
Gill Braulik, PhD, University of St Andrews, UK;
Elizabeth R. Brill, Marine Science Author, USA;
Villy Christensen, PhD, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Canada;
Vic Cockroft, PhD, Centre for Dolphin Studies, Dugongs Western Indian Ocean, South Africa;
Sylvia Earle, PhD, President and Chairman, Mission Blue / The Sylvia Earle Alliance, National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence;
Monica Engel, PhD candidate, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada;
Beatrice Frank, PhD, Social Science Specialist, Capital Regional District of Victoria, Canada;
Craig Harris, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Michigan Agbio Research Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University, USA;
Peter Harris, PhD, Managing Director, GRID-Arendal, Norway;
Nan Hauser, PhD, President and Director, Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, Director, Cook Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre, Cook Islands;
Xabier Irigoien, PhD, Scientific Director, AZTI, Spain;
Benjamin Kahn, Director, APEX Environmental, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Cetacean Specialist Group, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, Adjunct Research Fellow, Curtin University, Centre of Marine Science and Technology, Australia;
Kristin Kaschner, PhD, Department of Biology and Environmental System Analysis, University of Freiburg, Germany;
David P. Keller, PhD, GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Marine Biogeochemistry Research Division, Biogeochemical Modelling Research Unit, Germany;
Jasper Kenter, PhD, Principal Investigator in Ecological Economics, Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK;
Dan Kerem, PhD, Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies (RIMS), University of Haifa, Israel;
Danielle Kreb, PhD, Scientific Program Advisor, Yayasan Konservasi Rare Aquatic Species of Indonesia, Indonesia;
Tomohiro Kuwae, PhD, Head, Coastal and Estuarine Environment Research Group, Port and Airport Research Institute, Japan;
Ronal W. Larson, PhD, Board Member, US Biochar Initiative, Member, Technical Advisory Committee for the International Biochar Initiative, USA;
Michael C. MacCracken, PhD, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs, Climate Institute, USA;
Anuschka Miller, PhD, Head of Communications, Director Ocean Explorer Centre, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Scottish Marine Institute, UK;
Gillian Minton, PhD, Independent Consultant, Megaptera Marine Conservation, Netherlands;
Wallace J. Nichols, PhD, Founder & Co-Director,, USA;
Bethan O’Leary, PhD, Research Fellow, University of York, UK;
Esben Molan Olsen, PhD, Department of Natural Sciences, University of Adger, Norway; Institute for Marine Research, Norway;
Heidi Pearson, PhD, School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Natural Sciences, University of Alaska Southeast, USA;
Lisa Pennisi, PhD, Associate Professor of Practice, Human Dimensions/Natural Resources Specialist, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, USA;
Maria Potouroglou, PhD, Ecosystems, Economics and Sustainable Development Programme, GRID-Arendal, Norway;
Ellen Prager, PhD, President, Earth2Ocean Inc., USA;
Jill Richardson, PhD, Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society, Chair, MES Academic Committee, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, USA;
Denise Risch, PhD, Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK;
Callum Roberts, marine conservation biologist, Environment Department, University of York, UK;
Alex David Rogers, PhD, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK;
Joe Roman, PhD, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, USA;
Carl Safina, Ph.D., President, Blue Ocean Institute, Member of Explorers Club, Recipient of Pew Scholar’s Award in Conservation and the Environment, USA;
Michael Salter, PhD, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK;
Stephen Salter, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK;
Robin R. Sears, PhD, International Consultant in Forests and Visiting Assistant Professor of Forestry, Hampshire College, USA;
Rachel Skubel, PhD candidate, University of Miami, USA;
Walker O. Smith Jr., PhD, Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, USA;
Richard Stafford, PhD, Centre for Conservation Ecology and Environmental Sustainability, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Bournemouth University, UK;
Robert Steneck, PhD, Darling Marine Center, University of Main, USA;
Rashid Sumaila, PhD, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, UBC Fisheries Centre, Canada;
Leigh Torres, PhD, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University, USA;
Clive Trueman, PhD, Marine Ecology within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, UK;
Grigory Tsidulko, Antarctic Ocean Alliance, Russia;
John Virdin, PhD, Director, Oceans and Coastal Policy Program, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, USA;
Christian Vivian, PhD, previously, National Marine Advisor, Environment and Ecosystems, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft Laboratory, UK;
Asha de Vos, PhD, Senior Advisor, Oceana, Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, National Geographic Explorer, Founder, The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project, Sri Lanka;
Robin Warner, PhD, Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong, Australia.


See the Voluntary Commitment on the UN Ocean Conference website


IMAGE Credit: NOAA, Donald LeRoi


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