World Ocean Day reminds us that through transformative collaboration we can create a more abundant future for all

Glaciers in the ocean
Image from John Weller
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
8 June 2024
We need a healthy ocean if we’re to have a healthy climate. The steps we take to achieve this must be just, equitable, and sustainable.

This World Ocean Day, ocean advocates are calling for transformative collaboration and for stronger local, national, and international action from both government and corporate leaders.

Since Virgin Unite began 20 years ago, it has worked to galvanise ocean-focussed collaboration – bringing together leaders, scientists and campaigners from all over the world to take urgent action and set the blue planet on a course to recovery. A reported third of the world’s ocean surface is deemed particularly vulnerable to threats driven by burning fossil fuel and deforestation. It’s now or never for the world’s leaders and decisions makers to follow through and make use of existing climate solutions and accelerate a just transition to clean and renewable energy.

Image from William Winram
Image from William Winram

A key-call from the ocean community this World Ocean Day is for the protection and restoration of natural coastal and ocean ecosystems, through the creation of strongly protected areas covering at least 30% of our lands and waters by 2030. This message and movement is especially close to the heart of Virgin Unite thanks to the work of Ocean Unite, who in 2016 (alongside the Marine Conservation Institute and Oceans 5) brought together 30 of the world's largest conservation NGOs to stimulate efforts towards the goal of protecting at least 30% of the ocean by 2030. Virgin Unite and Richard Branson have been supporting 30x30 campaigns ever since.

Image from Manuela Davies
Image from Manuela Davies

Ocean Unite was incubated by Virgin Unite and launched in 2015 – with a mission to unify and mobilise impactful voices and to drive positive ocean conservation action. It has since merged into its flagship initiative, the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA). Its focus is on connecting the finance, insurance, government, and non-profit sectors (from the Global South) to help pioneer finance products that incentivise investment into coastal and ocean nature-based solutions. Learn more about why mobilising investment into ocean and coastal resilience is critical to combating climate change impacts and the ways you can support ORRAA’s work.

This World Ocean Day is also focused on collaboration with local leaders that are working to implement action within their communities, amplification of their voices, and continuing to create local, national and international solutions that are based on the best science. These messages are in perfect alignment with those of the Planetary Guardians, who recently visited Brazil and spent time discussing how to elevate the Planetary Boundaries science, as well as listening and learning from Indigenous Peoples and leaders from across the country.

Planetary Guardians | Alexandre Virgilio
Planetary Guardians | Alexandre Virgilio

The Planetary Guardians, incubated by Virgin Unite and launched during New York Climate Week in 2023, is an independent, non-profit organisation that brings together scientists, leaders and people committed to the planet and to the promotion of the Planetary Boundary science.

The Planetary Boundaries represent the systems that keep the planet in a healthy state, at a safe distance from critical thresholds. Six of the nine boundaries have already been breached, exposing humanity to the risk of irreversible and catastrophic environmental damage - from ten-meter sea level rise and dire freshwater shortages, to the potential collapse of invaluable ecosystems, including coral reefs and the vast Amazon.

By collaborating in transformative ways, this World Ocean Day reminds us we can create a healthier and more abundant future for all.