The ocean is climate. Climate is ocean. One simply cannot discuss either without the inclusion of both. That does not always occur. Often, in science, policy, and politics, they are viewed as independent entities, a reality that diffuses attention, jurisdiction, effect, and progress. In some non-governmental organizations, in the United Nations, and in some particular acts by particular governing bodies, however, a de facto integration occurs and forward movement achieved.
The United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, for example, sponsors a Momentum for Change Initiative to acknowledge “Lighthouse Activities”— some of the most innovative, scalable, and replicable examples of what people worldwide at every level of society are doing to address climate change and to benefit the environment, ocean and otherwise. The 2016 Awards represent many of the kinds of projects that will transform behavior in the name of climate mitigation goals — a source of optimism by virtue of successful action taken.
The thirteen awards fell into three categories: Women for Results, Financing for Climate Friendly Investment, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Solutions. Some examples for Women for Results include The W+ Standard in Nepal, a rural distribution network of 1,100 women entrepreneurs facilitating access to clean energy, water, and sanitation products and services in several communities; Woman-Led Fog Harvesting for a Resilient, Sustainable Ecosystem in Morocco that introduced a technological innovation inspired by ancient dew-collecting practices, providing potable water to the local community; and Women’s Empowerment for Resilience Against Climate Change in Uganda that establishes women-led groups that pool their savings into a fund from which they borrow and invest into climate-friendly, income-generating activities. Some examples for Financing for Climate Friendly Investment include Gothenburg Green Bonds in Sweden, the first municipal issue of bonds specifically for loans and investments that benefit the climate and the environment; and Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax in British Columbia, Canada the first in North America covering more than 70% of the provincial CO2 emissions with revenue returned to citizens in the form of personal and business tax credits and other financial measures. Examples from Information and Communications Technology Solutions include Connected Mangroves in Malaysia, a system the combines cloud, machine to machines, and mobile broadband to help the local community restore mangrove plantations, and SOLshare in Bangladesh, the world’s first technology enabled peer-to-peer trading network for rural households with or without solar home systems.
These projects are astonishingly large and small at the same time; they are first of a kind, applied in small villages and large cities, and catalyze investment, local talent, community collaboration, and exemplary implementation that can be duplicated and adapted to other places with similar circumstance. At first glance, they may seem far distant from the ocean, but not so if your remember our initial observation that the ocean and climate are synergistically entwined, that every action taken to meet the challenge of one is by definition an action to meet the challenge of the other. The global switch to solar power will reduce reliance on fossil fuels, their extraction and burning, with all the negative climate/ocean consequences we already know. The experiments with new forms of investment and trading will augment and change conventional finance structures and corporations that may not be as adaptable to innovation. The collection of fresh water, renewal of mangroves, the empowerment of women as agents of change within our communities — everyone of these contributes to the larger question and its answers.
Let’s be real. Will any one of them really make a difference? Absolutely, yes, without doubt — individually, in each specific place; collectively, as an amalgam of possibility, real solutions, and commitment to new ideas and progress; and, internationally, as a demonstration that great things in difficult times can be achieved by the power of imagination and will — and that is a telling expression of optimism from which we can all take heart.
Ocean and Climate: A Movement for Change first appeared as a 5-minute audio episode on World Ocean Radio. Host Peter Neill is founder and director of the World Ocean Observatory, a web-based place of exchange for information and educational services about the health of the world ocean. Online at worldoceanobservatory.org.
About the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat
Momentum for Change: Lighthouse Activities
Momentum for Change provides a public platform to highlight broad-ranging climate change actions that are already achieving real results on the ground. By shining light on the most inspiring and transformational mitigation and adaptation activities, known as ‘Lighthouse Activities’, Momentum for Change aims to strengthen motivation, spur innovation and catalyze further change towards a low-emission, high-resilient future. The Lighthouse Activities are showcased at the annual United Nations climate change conferences.