A speaker addresses delegates at the Achieving Ocean Equity conference.

World experts gather to discuss strategies for a sustainable and equitable blue economy

World experts gather to discuss strategies for a sustainable and equitable blue economy

Achieving ocean equity conference to explore innovative, inclusive, sustainable approaches to ocean governance

The University of Wollongong (UOW) will co-host an international conference on the theme ‘Achieving Ocean Equity: Innovative, Fair, Inclusive, and Sustainable Strategies and Blue Impact Investments’ from 27 February to 1 March 2023.

With its great potential to support global growth, a sustainable ocean-based economy is among the top global priorities for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and boosting the long-term development prospects of the blue economy.

However, despite advancing innovation in marine biotechnology, renewable energy, and ocean governance, significant development gaps and inequalities remain.

The three-day conference will discuss these challenges and explore innovative, inclusive, and sustainable policy solutions to advance the development of ocean equity in coastal and Small Island Developing States.

The conference is jointly hosted by UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), and the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and will bring together representatives from 18 countries across the Asia Pacific region.

Conference organiser Associate Professor Michelle Voyer from ANCORS said: “This conference will bring together researchers and government officials from throughout the Asia Pacific to share their knowledge and experience of creating fair and equitable approaches to ocean governance. It is an exciting opportunity to focus our shared attention on strategies for addressing ocean challenges in a way that creates benefits for local communities and the people that rely on the ocean for their livelihood and wellbeing.”

ADBI Deputy Head and Senior Economist Capacity Building and Training Department Dr Pitchaya Sirivunnabood said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with ANCORS and OPRI in organising this conference as a part of ADBI’s capacity building and research activities to support developing countries in Asia and the Pacific in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (5, 10, 13, and 14) as well as to complement the implementations of ADB’s Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies.”

OPRI Senior Research Fellow Michael C. Huang said: “We hope the conference will bring interdisciplinary discussion among government, private, and academia and could help stakeholders to identify the blue impact to promote sustainable ocean financing.”

A collage of photos from the Achieving Ocean Equity conference hosted by ANCORS

In his opening remarks, OPRI President Dr Hide Sakaguchi said: “The disparity and misuse of ocean resources by some has created development traps, limiting opportunities for sustainable growth and ocean equity. It is essential to recognise the interconnection between our daily lives and the health of the oceans to support equitable and sustainable ocean governance.”

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia Davidson thanked ADBI and OPRI for supporting the event and welcomed conference guests to Wollongong.

“The health of our oceans is an extremely important topic and is closely linked with the health of people. We rely on healthy oceans to provide us food, clean air, recreation, stress relief and in a rapidly changing world, these needs have never been more pressing,” Professor Davidson said.

“The aim of this conference is to identify the development gaps and inequality that still exists in ocean governance and obstruct our path towards a sustainable ocean-based economy. I hope that the next few days not only shed light on this but also allow us to come up with solutions and innovative and inclusive ideas to overcome this.”

Conference keynote speakers include Professor Yoshitaka Ota from the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington; Solomon Islands National University Vice-Chancellor Dr Transform Aqorao; Assistant Professor Prani Sastiono from the Institute of Economics and Social Research, Universitas Indonesia; and Ms Katharine Thoday, Principal Environmental Economist from the Asian Development Bank.

The conference papers are expected to be published in a book.

A group photo of delegates at the Achieving Ocean Equity conference.