The Network is being established to address a crucial systemic gap to unify diverse stakeholders regionally and enable progress on SDG14.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: On the first day of COP28, Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder and MD of Goumbook, a leading social enterprise accelerating Sustainability and Climate Action in the UAE and beyond, announces the launch of the MENA Oceans Network.
Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji, the UN Special Envoy for the Oceans, delivered the keynote address, where he urged everyone to get involved in the positive wave of action going around the planet. He mentioned that multilateralism works and is delivering, especially when it comes to the environment. “The Gulf is at the heart of climate change and must be at the forefront of the transition and this will not happen without full engagement on our oceans.”
A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Raidan AlSaqqaf, Economist and Technical Lead for COP28 Preparations at the UN-UAE Resident Office, engaged Ahmed Al Hashmi, Executive Director of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and Dr. Reem Al Mealla, Founder of NUWAT-Bahrain, in highlighting the regional challenges and opportunities while tackling ocean health.
Anuradha Bhattacharya, Outreach and Impact Lead at Goumbook, announced the foundational framework of the Network and encouraged all stakeholders to engage in conversations and technical discussions to identify priorities and mainstream ocean action with a regional focus.
Ignace Beguin Billecocq, Ocean and Coastal Zones Lead at the UN High Level Climate Champions Team highlighted the importance of implementing a regional pathway through the Network to implement the ocean breakthrough goals recently announced. “What I like with the vision of the Network is the sense of collaboration across stakeholders.” He also said, “With non-state actors joining forces - is where we will see systems change.”
The multi-stakeholder network is positioned to work as a regional impact hub, strengthen public-private-community partnerships and accelerate the pace of ocean action through a cross-sectoral approach.
“The MENA region is home to several important marine ecosystems, from the Mediterranean Sea, to the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. These water bodies are home to a diverse range of marine life including coral reefs, sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins and whales, as well as rich ecosystems such as mangrove forests, salt marshes and seagrass beds. The region at the same time, is an important commercial and maritime hub, home to several shipping lanes, which are critical for global trade. As such, the MENA regions can and must play a crucial role in marine protection through data sharing, policy regulation, promotion of sustainable blue economy frameworks that promote better fishing practices, reduce pollution, and proactively protect marine habitats. It is with this mission that we are honoured to launch the MENA Oceans Network that will address critical challenges and unify diverse stakeholders towards taking action for the oceans. “ Highlighted Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder and MD of Goumbook during her presentation when discussing why a regional focus on MENA.

The Network is strategically positioned to enable and influence knowledge sharing and on-ground interventions, which will prioritize adopting a cross-sectoral approach to ensure sustainable management of our seas and blue economies.

Fostering innovation and technology is another key objective of the Network. It would be a platform that brings together innovators with financial and non-financial resources, especially through nature based solutions, considering the OECD forecasts that the “blue economy” could be worth $3 trillion by 2030.

The Network will also action an ambitious plan to collate and make accessible data and scientific research to establish a baseline that can be used to monitor progress on SDG14. This data, along with other digital resources, will be shared on a digital platform to enhance access.

Like with all of Goumbook’s initiatives, the Network will empower it members to engage with the youth and the community on raising awareness and empowering action. We view this as our greatest opportunity - to give voice to young leaders who are emerging from the crux of this planetary crisis.

The Network will have multiple levels of partnerships, from endorsing partnerships including regional ministries and governing bodies, patrons and network members across the ocean linked value chain.

Dr Raidan Al Saqqaf, UN Resident Economist for the UAE, a key partnership for The Network mentions “The MENA Oceans network is a new manifestation of a powerful team dedicated to safeguarding our oceans and water bodies across the region.

Members of the network are environmental superheroes working to make sure our marine ecosystems thrive in a warming planet.”
The oceans cover 71% of the surface of our planet. It has long taken the brunt of the impact of climate change, absorbing about 90% of the heat generated by rising greenhouse gas emissions trapped in the Earth’s system and 25% of carbon emissions, causing devastating impacts on ocean health and increasing life and livelihood risks for coastal communities.
This is an open call to action to work together, unify diverse regional stakeholders and accelerate the pace of ocean action.