Reflecting on World Oceans Day

Richard Branson at the Ultramarine gatheirng on Necker
Stacie Hess
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 8 June 2023

Without a healthy ocean, we can't survive. The ocean feeds us, regulates the climate, supports millions of livelihoods, and provides the very air we breathe. This World Oceans Day is the perfect opportunity to mark progress in protecting the ocean and reflect on how much more needs to be done.

I’ve always been passionate about protecting the ocean and the planet in the hope that my grandchildren and future generations can grow up in a world where they can thrive. Meaningful steps are being taken. At last year’s UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, nations agreed to protect a third of our planet’s land and ocean by 2030. This is supported by the UN High Seas Treaty, which specifically puts 30% of the ocean into Marine Protected Areas by 2030, something that Virgin Unite, alongside Ocean Unite (now ORRAA), have been campaigning for since 2016.

ocean-unite_2020-10_Cristina Mittermeier
Cristina Mittermeier

However, while it’s encouraging to see the scale of ambition rise, the scale of the challenge has increased too. Around 10% of marine life is currently at risk of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Virgin Unite and its amazing partners are continuing our efforts to protect and regenerate the ocean. ORRAA has a particular focus on driving investment into work that protects the ocean and supports coastal communities. They have raised over $14m, supported 45 innovative projects and helped an estimated 121,000 people to be more climate resilient as a result.

Projects large and small can make a difference. Here in the British Virgin Islands, one of the brilliant programmes Unite BVI delivers is Unite for the Sea, a free youth programme that sponsors fun, educational water-based activities (such as swimming, snorkelling, and diving lessons). It inspires a love for the ocean, educating the next generation of ocean conservationists.

Unite BVI
Unite BVI

Virgin Limited Edition is proud to support Unite BVI’s work too. The Virgin Limited Edition team on Necker Island also wear uniforms made from reclaimed ocean waste and plastic bottles. The island is also capable of running on 100% renewable energy, and this carbon reduction has a direct impact on ocean health.

It’s not enough to protect the ocean alone though. Healthy coastal ecosystems are also crucial to promote ocean health, as they help stop many forms of land-based pollution reaching the ocean in the first place.

Necker Island beach
Stacie Hess

Virgin Unite has been looking at more ways to help accelerate Caribbean-led mangrove forest protection and restoration efforts across the region. Working with a brilliant group of regional partners and conservation experts, Virgin Unite is supporting the acceleration of Caribbean-led programmes to ensure that these vital habitats have the protection, funding and established science they need to be a part of the region for generations to come.

Finally, keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for a series of blogs from Virgin Unite spotlighting different organisations and initiatives that are doing important work to support the ocean.