This month, NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad and I had the honor of participating in the Oceans of Knowledge 2021: Climate Change and the Ocean conference, which took place at the Institute of Physics in London, England. The conference was designed to set the stage for COP26, and gave international representatives from government, academia, and the private sector the chance to discuss climate change and sustainable use of the ocean and ocean resources, the role of the ocean in natural and engineered climate mitigation, rising sea levels, and coastal vulnerability.
On the first day of the conference, I led a session on the new blue economy, where I spoke about the role that the ocean can play in helping to mitigate the climate crisis, the services that NOAA provides to coastal communities, and how the future of the blue economy must comprise science-based management and sustainable use of ocean resources in support of national, economic, and environmental security. On day two, I participated in a panel discussion titled Different Places, Different Solutions, where I discussed differing adaptation responses to rising sea levels around the world with representatives from Miami, India, and the United Kingdom.
Sharing what we do here at NOS with an international audience and learning more about the actions that other countries are taking to combat the climate crisis was invaluable and inspiring. I look forward to attending more engagements like Oceans of Knowledge in the future.
When looking to the future, it’s also important to look to the past. October 23 marked the 49th anniversary of the passing of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and the start of a year-long celebration leading up to the 50th anniversary of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Since its creation, the sanctuary system has grown into a nationwide network of 15 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments that conserve more than 620,000 square miles of spectacular ocean and Great Lakes waters. Sanctuaries connect people and communities through science, education, and stewardship. They rely on these networks to inspire community-based solutions that help them understand and protect our nation’s most spectacular habitats, marine life, archaeological wonders, and cultural seascapes. As they look toward the future, sanctuaries fully embrace their responsibility to save these spectacular places and ensure the National Marine Sanctuary System remains a source of pride and enjoyment for all.
Steady as we go,