The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Dow Chemical recently announced significant new initiatives to help protect the health of our ocean and its precious marine resources, indispensable to our economy, and all life on the planet.
A 2015 WWF report revealed the huge economic value the ocean produces for the world, with an annual “gross marine product” (GMP) product of at least US$2.5 trillion, and a total “asset” base of at least US$24 trillion, including tourism, shipping, fishing and benefits like carbon sequestration. The ocean qualifies as the 7th biggest economy on the planet.
Yet, it is inundated with 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris and litter, according to a recent report from the nonprofit advocacy group 5 Gyres. Of that debris, 269,000 tons float on the surface and about four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer are scattered across the ocean floor.
The ocean also suffers from overfishing, climate change, and other areas that are quickly degrading its valuable resources.The new programs launched by Tiffany and Dow seek to directly address these issues.
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, a B Team funder, is working with the Nature Conservancy, the Oceans 5 funders collaborative and Bahamian authorities to double amount of protected marine and coastal areas of the Bahamas by 2020 as one part of a $3.2 million plan.
Dow Chemical, whose CEO Andrew Liveris is a B Team Leader, has launched a $2.8 million project to find solutions that address ocean litter over the next two years. Dow’s project will focus on sponsoring “collaborative projects and educational programs to improve waste management infrastructure, promote recycling and prevent littering, and support the development of new technologies to create a more circular economy and offer opportunities to turn waste into value,” according to the State Department.“
Dow is committed to finding viable science-based solutions to keep our oceans clean,” said Jim Fitterling, Dow’s president and chief operating officer in a statement, “These efforts are aligned to our 2025 Sustainability Goals and our efforts to advance a circular economy by delivering solutions to close resource loops and increase the rate of recycling and reuse of plastics.”
Our Oceans, an annual conference focusing on the key ocean issues of our time, lauded these and 136 new initiatives worth more than $5.2 billion and the protection of some 1.5 million square ocean miles. President Obama spoke at the event and Secretary of State John Kerry hosted. The event has brought commitments out of a number of governments and a smaller number of companies and NGO’s.
It’s important that as we work to tackle issues affecting the world that governments, companies and civil society come together to effectively support and expand these ongoing initiatives.