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Sign the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration

The ocean is both the largest living space on Earth and a fundamental part of our planetary climate system. But human activity, particularly in the form of greenhouse gas emissions that adversely impact the heat content, sea level, and acidity of the oceans, interferes with the ocean’s ability to support marine and terrestrial life, and hinders sustainable development worldwide. Calls for drastic cuts of greenhouse gas emissions need to be heeded, and concrete steps taken to curb other anthropogenic disruptions that interfere with the ocean’s natural function, including overfishing, habitat destruction, and marine pollution. At the same time, humanity must seek ways based on sound scientific evidence of removing carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere and storing it safely and reliably away from the atmosphere for long periods of time.

As the largest, most dynamic reservoir of carbon in Earth’s climate system, the ocean can and must play a central role in efforts to achieve net-negative emissions and meet the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement. As a critical part of other life-sustaining planetary processes, the ocean must also be protected from continued anthropogenic change, including any climate mitigation efforts and especially as the rapidly changing Earth system becomes less predictable.

To this end, partners of the Ocean Pavilion at COP28 and associated stakeholders call on world leaders to support and foster efforts to greatly expand and improve ocean observations worldwide to provide a basis for understanding ongoing natural and anthropogenic change and for planning mitigation and adaptation strategies, with a particular emphasis on building capacity in developing nations and on expanding coverage of under-observed regions. Specific efforts include:

  • Improve global stocktake estimates and measures of progress towards goals laid out in the Paris Agreement by providing better measures of carbon fluxes through the ocean and a more comprehensive view of Earth’s ocean-climate system.
  • Implement robust, cooperative monitoring, reporting, and verification of new and emerging ocean-based carbon dioxide removal strategies to ensure measurable progress towards net-negative emissions while also protecting critical ocean ecosystems.
  • Expand observing capabilities to measure the widest possible suite of essential climate and biological variables to better understand and address the impacts of climate change on the distribution of ocean life, marine ecosystem health, biomass, and biodiversity.
  • Develop capacity among island nations and developing countries and refine methodologies to account for contributions by the ocean’s natural functions and the blue economy to climate stabilization through nationally determined contributions and national adaptation plans.

An accelerated scientific research and technology development program to achieve these goals and establish the global- and regional-scale ocean observing system as an essential global infrastructure is urgently needed, with new public- and private-sector investments to ensure its long-term success and viability. At the same time, the research community must strengthen efforts to incorporate traditional, indigenous, and place-based knowledge to create a more holistic view of the ocean-climate system and enhance the resilience of marine ecosystems and human society. It is important that all research and testing activities be conducted in ways that are transparent, ethical, and designed to ensure the continued health and vitality of the global ocean and the ecosystem services that benefit everyone.

We call on the Parties of COP28 to take these needs into consideration and adopt measures individually and collectively to enhance protection of the ocean, starting with an expansion of the observational capacity that is the foundation of the scientific evidence to guide progress.  With it, society may better understand and more fully mitigate the risks being posed by climate change to the ocean on which we all depend.

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