The Next Wave of Innovation is Blue
Welcome To The Launch Of The GIST Oceans Series
Oceans Are The Next Innovation Frontier
GIST is proud to announce the launch of our GIST Oceans Series as we kick off a season of activity focused on the development of an equitable, sustainable, and exciting vision of emerging global ocean innovation. Over the next three months, we will be highlighting innovators, events, and initiatives around the world as we work to empower this next generation of development and the creation of a better Blue Economy for the whole planet.
Why is the Ocean Important to Global Innovation?
Humanity has always been entwined deeply with the oceans that surround us… For our entire existence, the ocean has been how we connect with one another and with our planet. As old and deep as this connection may be, the ocean is also the frontier for a future of extraordinary possibility. It is the forefront of extraordinary innovation happening all around the globe, innovation that GIST is honored to uplift and be a part of. But this future is in peril…there are many existential risks to the health and safety of our oceans, from climate change to pollution. The ocean is key not only to our health and happiness, but the essential role it plays in fostering a global economic ecosystem. A healthy ocean contributes $1.5 trillion to the global economy annually and has an estimated net asset value of $24 trillion.
The ocean is the source of millions of jobs in fishing, tourism, transportation, and it powers economic growth. It plays a key role in climate change mitigation efforts, generating 50% of the world’s oxygen, absorbing 25% of all carbon emissions, and capturing 90% of the additional heat generated by those emissions. A degraded ocean has vast repercussions not just for ocean life, but for communities everywhere, for jobs and livelihoods—and our very existence.
On the economic front, declining ocean health could cost the global economy more than $400 billion annually by 2050. This could reach $2 trillion annually by 2100. The ocean isn’t just a victim however; it’s an essential part of the solution. Choosing between production and protection is a false choice… we can and should have both, and the development of a global blue economy paves the way for exactly that.
What is the Blue Economy?
For us to work towards a mutually beneficial global connection to the oceans, the development of a blue economy is paramount. The UN first introduced the blue economy concept in 2012 and underlined sustainable management, based on the argument that marine ecosystems are more productive when they are healthy, a theory backed by scientific findings. The UN describes that the Blue Economy should “promote economic growth, social inclusion, and the preservation or improvement of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas.” This is where SDG14 comes in: it provides the international blueprint for what a sustainable blue future looks like. We see that sustainable development doesn’t just make sense in regards to planetary health; it allows us to understand the ocean as a frontier for meaningful economic prosperity, one that can provide a catalyst for emerging and developed economies alike to grow together and thrive. It simply makes sense to invest in the blue economy: the latest research finds that investing $1 in key ocean actions can yield at least $5 in global benefits, often more, over the next 30 years. A sustainably managed ocean is more productive, and can improve food security. With better management and technological innovation, the ocean could sustainably provide over 6 times more food than it does today by 2050. This represents more than two-thirds of the animal protein needed to feed the world’s population. And ultimately the ocean plays a key role in climate change mitigation; the ocean can contribute a fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions (21%) needed to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals by 2050, equivalent to taking over 2.5 billion cars off the road each year.
What is the Future of Ocean Innovation?
The future of ocean innovation is key to meeting our global sustainable development goals, and is intrinsically tied with providing a platform for this success. Supporting ocean innovators is vital to this process, and GIST is proud to center this in our work. The GIST Initiative is a partnership grounded by the work of the Department of State's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. As such, we view oceans as a key pillar of American leadership, diplomacy, and scientific cooperation, and as a vital platform for the prosperity, peace, and security of this and future generations. We fulfill this mission by empowering science and technology innovators around the world, and have worked to uplift ocean innovators since our founding. From rural pollution solutions in Malaysia to ocean plastics recycling for health solutions in Mozambique, GIST has centered innovators who are finding ways to utilize the ocean for the innovation of tomorrow, proving that prosperity and preservation are two sides of the same coin.
We are proud to launch the GIST Oceans Series, and hope you’ll join us as we share our oceans innovation programming over the next 3 months. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest, only on the GIST Network.