- Under the patronage of the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment, leading to COP28 and supported by the UN Climate Champions, MENA Oceans Summit, a two-day event bringing together experts from government, private sector, researchers, and academia to discuss ocean sustainability, launched on World Oceans Day.
- Goumbook introduces MENA Oceans Summit 2023, the first dedicated forum in this region to accelerate the pace of comprehensive ocean action.
- Bringing together diverse stakeholders around common needs and priorities, the forum contributes valuable regional perspectives to the global ocean agenda.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Goumbook, the leading social enterprise promoting sustainability and climate change practices, and its Knowledge Partner Emirates Diving Association have convened on the occasion of World Oceans Day. The event hosted a diverse range of stakeholders to discuss ocean health, biodiversity, nature based solutions, and sustainable blue economies at the inaugural MENA Oceans Summit to foster dialogue and collaborative action.
“In the Year of Sustainability, the MENA Oceans Summit will help bolster our dedication to the health and resilience of our oceans, adding further momentum for impactful dialogues at COP28,” said His Excellency Mohammed Al Hammadi, Assistant-Undersecretary of the Biodiversity and Marine Life Sector at the UAE Ministry of Climate Change. He added, “This collaboration propels us forward, united in our mission to safeguard Earth's delicate marine balance.”
Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Co-Chair of MENA Oceans Summit and Founder of Goumbook, added to this, “Earth is a delicate balance of interconnected environments. So the sea, which covers 70% of its surface, plays an extraordinary role in sustaining all life. If we can’t sustain our seas, then they can’t sustain us. It’s time to redefine the relationship. The MENA Oceans Summit wants to bring together the key stakeholders within the region to partner and take action towards ocean sustainability.”
Following the key streams Blue Economy, Blue Governance, and Blue Science, discussions and presentations throughout the day underscored the profound interconnectedness of critical industries such as maritime transport, ports, and fisheries with concerns related to livelihoods and environmental protection, while acknowledging the importance of robust governance and policy systems that provide the necessary framework for all ocean-related activities.
On the need of balancing economic development and long-term sustainability, Ramie Murray, Founder and CEO of Dibba Bay, commented, “Sustainable aquaculture not only benefits the wellbeing of our planet but also nurtures marine life in profound ways. By practicing sustainable aquaculture, we can provide a safe haven for marine species to thrive, ensuring their habitats remain intact and their populations flourish. By embracing these practices, we can safeguard the biodiversity of our oceans and promote food security in the region, where the wellbeing of our oceans and the protection of marine life go hand in hand.”
One of the key presentations on Day 1 highlighted carbon sinks and the important role our oceans play in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide.
Rouba Abou-Atieh, Executive Coordinator at the Convention on Migratory Species Office in Abu Dhabi, underscored the remarkable contribution of underwater ecosystems saying, “The marine ecosystem, with its vast expanse and intricate biodiversity, serves as a vital carbon sink, absorbing and storing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide. Seagrass meadows, within this tapestry of life, emerge as extraordinary champions. Occupying only 0.2 percent of the sea floor, seagrass accounts for 10 percent of the ocean's 'blue carbon' storage capacity. Remarkably, seagrass can capture carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. These underwater meadows stand as remarkable contributors to climate regulation and environmental preservation.”
Elaborating on the wide range of socio-economic benefits that nature offers and emphasizing its crucial role in human wellbeing and climate-resilient economies, several panels and presentations touched upon the concept of nature-based solutions.
“Nature-based solutions, if implemented to a high standard, can contribute to improved environmental health, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and more broadly towards a sustainable blue economy”, explained Marina Antonopoulou, Director of Emirates Nature - WWF. “Nature offers a range of socio-economic benefits, can be the cornerstone of human wellbeing, and support a climate resilient economy. On the occasion of World Oceans Day, it is crucial to highlight the significance of safeguarding, reviving, and managing effectively marine ecosystems, integral to ensuring a sustainable tomorrow”, she continued.
Among the international guest lineup, the organizers were honoured to welcome HH Princess Shaikha bint Khaled Al-Saud, Marine Biologist & Conservationist, representing Red Sea Global at the Summit, who explicitly stressed the sources for hope: “In an age of doom scrolling and mass media fear-mongering, actively seek out optimism”, she told attendees. “Don’t lose sight of that glimmer of hope. Just because you don’t see the progress doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
Goumbook has a strong track record in driving environmental initiatives and promoting sustainable practices in the MENA region through impactful partnerships. After a successful first day they now look forward to Day 2, where the Blue Collective at the MENA Oceans Summit will engage the youth and community through interactive discussions and collective solution finding sessions.
For more information and to register for the MENA Oceans Summit, please visit www.menaoceanssummit.com. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MENAOceansSummit.
MENA Oceans Summit is delighted to have Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah as its hotel partner.
Born in 2009, Goumbook is the leading social enterprise promoting sustainable living and green practices in the UAE and beyond. We shape the global sustainability landscape by offering local solutions to corporates, youth, civil society, and the public sector. We raise awareness, run initiatives, advise and consult to change mindsets and create impact on the current and future living experiences of the people in our region.
EDA is a non-profit NGO registered with the Ministry of Community Development as per the Ministerial Decree No. 149. EDA’s mission is to conserve, protect and restore the UAE’s marine resources by emphasising and promoting the underwater environment and environmental diving.