Ocean plastics, coastal resilience and the Blue Economy were high on the agenda at the G7 summit in Canada earlier this month, where a commitment to support ocean science and sustainability was signed. As a leading maritime nation, the UK is well placed to support many of the goals set out in the Blueprint, and by using its marine geospatial expertise, the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) will help with the delivery of this work.
The ‘Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities’ sets out G7 commitments and outlines a blueprint to develop a more sustainable and climate-resilient future for oceans and coastal communities. This includes a focus on ocean science in particular, as well as effective data gathering and usage.
Marine geospatial information provides the foundation for critical decisions affecting trade, maritime safety and security, management of marine resources, infrastructure development, habitat protection and resilience against forces of nature. As a leading marine geospatial information agency, the UKHO already works globally to source, process and provide access to this data.
The UKHO supports safe navigation by providing nautical charts, publications and services to over 90% of ships trading internationally and is Primary Charting Authority for 71 coastal states around the world. It is also working with partners across 31 coastal states to deliver two hydrographic programmes – the Overseas Territories Seabed Mapping Programme and the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme.
The Overseas Territories Seabed Mapping Programme is focused on undertaking seabed mapping in UK Overseas Territories such as Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Montserrat. It is funded by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) and is co-ordinated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The CME Programme is delivered on behalf of the FCO by the UKHO, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). It aims to unlock over £2bn return for the economies of 17 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) - some of which are the most economically vulnerable states in the world.
Many of the activities delivered through these programmes will contribute to healthier oceans and prosperous economies as identified in the Blueprint – from developing emergency preparedness to coastal resilience.
John Humphrey, Chief Executive of the UKHO, commented:
> We worked long and hard with our partners across Government to underpin the development of effective global goals for healthy oceans and sustainable Blue Economy growth in advance of the G7 summit.
> It is extremely gratifying to see this global coalition of leaders commit to ocean goals that the UKHO knows from experience have a direct benefit on individuals and economies in coastal communities and nations around the world.
> For example, we are continually building our capacity and understanding of how best to support emergency preparedness and recovery efforts. Meanwhile, we have also seen first-hand how accurate and up-to-date seabed mapping can contribute to dual aims of marine protection and the development of the Blue Economy. The associated positive economic benefits of hydrography are clear: with the average return of approximately £7.50 for every £1.00 spent. However, this ratio of can exceed 1:250 for more remote, more geographically challenged and less developed nations.
> As a world leading marine geospatial data agency, we look forward to continuing to support our partners achieve the goals of the ‘Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities’ signed at the G7 summit earlier this month.
The Blueprint commits the G7 to:
1. Support better adaptation planning, emergency preparedness and recovery
2. Support innovative financing for coastal resilience
3. Launch a joint G7 initiative to deploy Earth observation technologies and related applications to scale up capacities for the integrated management of coastal zones
4. Increase the availability and sharing of science and data
5. Address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and other drivers of over-exploitation of fish stocks
6. Support strategies to effectively protect and manage vulnerable areas of our oceans
7. Take a lifecycle approach to plastics stewardship on land and at sea, moving towards the
more resource efficient and sustainable management of plastics
The UKHO is continuing to invest in its technology, staff and facilities in its office in Taunton to ensure it can continue to provide leading global marine information. The organisation will continue to work with government partners to support active strategies to achieve the G7 Blueprint.