Ocean is not yet a country, but we are all already citizens
(from previous publishing on LinkedIn in November 2019 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ocean-yet-country-we-all-already-citizens-jean-dambreville/)
Participating two years ago to the #SustainableOceanSummit organized by World Ocean Council (WOC), I realized that my feelings about the Ocean were shared by a lot of others all around the world. From my exchanges with others attendees, it’s clear that we share at least two ideas:
- Our first collective responsibility is to convince the rest of the world population to change their point of view on this big tank of salted water. We need to speak with a clear and loud united voice to the decisions makers, all around the world that we can’t afford to spoil the ocean opportunities as it has been done elsewhere.
- We need to cooperate much more between Ocean community beyond these kind of meetings. It would be really a pity if each of us go back home having been impressed by such and such idea or project, but giving it with no support or highlight of our community.
At the beginning of everything, there is Ocean !
We too often speak about oceans as the “last something”:
- the last place to explore on Earth, because there is so much we still ignore about the Ocean,
- the last unconquered territory on our planet, because as space odyssey, it’s nearly unreachable for common people,
- the last place of freedom, because no national regulation applies.
In reality, to change people’s point of of view, we should say that Ocean is the “FIRST” in so many topics:
- the FIRST place where life appears about 4 billions years ago,
- still the FIRST oxygen producer, and by the way, the FIRST carbon dioxide stowage,
- and, I’m not afraid to say it, the FIRST international country because it’s the FIRST place where international laws are prevailing.
Ocean is the FIRST place where humanity has a chance to build a sustainable way of life since we do know in our century what were the mistakes made before on mainlands.
We are all “Oceaners”
We should all consider this quote from the first Saudi Arabian astronaut: “The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.” Sultan Al Saoud
In spite of the fact that France has one of the biggest maritim territory, one of our famous sailor, Eric Tabarly, said that: “For the majority of French people, ocean is what they have in their back when they are looking at the beach”. Let’s assume that those words stand for the majority of human beings and not only the French. Of course, because I was born and grown up on an island, I’m not part of this “majority of french people”. But all of the attendees of the #SustainableOceanSummit, just because they are participating to this event, are all not part of the “majority of human beings”. They are all belonging to organizations who consider oceans as a real topic of concern.
I have met during this summit a lot of really wonderful people with very interesting projects. One of the ideas I may suggest to the WOC would be to organize a survey between the attendees of the summit to make them vote for the best idea they’ve came across during this event. That should raise some opportunities to join our forces to promote the bests ones.
Each time one project, linked to Ocean, is a success, the whole ecosystems benefits of it. The challenge is to make quick wins to change the rest of the world minds about opportunities in Ocean.
Engineering the future of Ocean
I was representing at #SustainableOceanSummit the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO). I am the executive director of Ingénieurs Et Scientifiques de France (IESF, the French Society of Engineers and Scientists) which is the French member of this world federation. We are working very closely with WFEO since they are based in Paris, hosted by UNESCO.
IESF and WFEO organisations, are organized around committees and we intend to create (or reborn) an Ocean Committee with our joined forces. Engineers are neither marine biologists nor meteorologists, but they are very used to build the most realistic and acceptable solution in constrained environments. I’m pretty sure that this engineer’s committee will be able to produce ready to launch projects, to help our planet Ocean to be resilient.
Restoring a previous “pure”, “natural” state of the Ocean may already be a risk we can’t afford to spend a lot of efforts on an unreachable target. And even if by chance this is a success, it will only be a starting point. The destination is to organize the place of the ocean in a sustainable cycle of life on our planet. For example, acidification and warming are already killing very extended areas of coral gardens. The problem is more the speed of the changes than the changes themselves (when life appears, Ocean was far more acid and warmer than the worse actual forecast). May be helping nature to face the speed of changes is also a solution (developing resistant coral species in damaged areas to preserve the fish nurseries, helping stressed coral species to colonize new areas which were previously too cold, …). Once again, engineers are not marine biologists and we don’t have the answers to all the questions. But I’m sure that anyone trying to answer with ideology and not with a real scientific studies to rely on, is doing it in a wrong way.