‘We have underestimated the overall risk [to the oceans] … the whole of marine degradation is greater than the sum of its parts, and that degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted’. IPSO, 2011
Oceans make up over 70% of our planet. They provide many millions of people with food and livelihoods, buffer coastal communities against storms and the impacts of climate change, and produce more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. The seas are also home to a huge array of life, from deep-diving giants such as sperm whales, to the incredible diversity of tropical coral reefs, to sailfish with top speeds of 70 mph.
Even in the depths of the ocean life exists, but we know more about the Moon than about these places. The Census of Marine Life found 6,000 species new to science; more than all the land mammals discovered in the last 250 years. However, more than 90% of the estimated 2.2 million ocean species remain to be discovered.
A wide range of pressures – include overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, as well as ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation and sea level rise caused by climate change – interact to threaten marine life and, in turn, increase our own vulnerability to food insecurity and extreme weather. As global population and consumption grow the scale of these problems is predicted to increase.
Our oceans portfolio currently focuses geographically on Africa, with a focus on West Africa and the Western Indian Ocean region; and on Asia-Pacific, with a focus on vulnerable Pacific islands and key regional markets and political players (e.g. China)
We decided to focus on these regions for several reasons: they have globally important biodiversity and increasing human pressures; high socioeconomic vulnerability to ocean degradation; limited governance capacity; and growing political influence and demand for marine resources. These regions also represent significant gaps in philanthropy, with opportunities to catalyse greater funding and awareness.
Within these regions we will support work that addresses unsustainable coastal resource use, particularly overfishing, using local-level interventions that are effective, sustainable and scalable. We are also interested in regional ocean zoning or marine spatial planning to improve data and decision-making in less-developed countries; and in long-term protection and restoration of mangrove habitats.
See the links to the right to read about our partners who are carrying out some of this work.