Alexandra Dostal, Assistant Deputy Minister, Aquatic Ecosystem Sector, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, welcomed participants as they re-gathered for a full day of presentations and discussions. Minna Epps, Director, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme, stressed the importance of protecting coasts as well as the high seas.
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Through video, keynote speaker Ruth Mthembu, Oceans youth advocate, spoke of her drive for protecting the Oceans, the “world’s greatest unifier”. Sharing the story of her work mobilising African youth leadership in Ocean conservation, and recalling challenges of wealth disparity, gendered violence and high unemployment rates, she reminded participants that protecting human wellbeing also means protecting the Oceans.
Aulani Wilhelm, Senior Vice President for Oceans at Conservation International and currently serving as Assistant Director for Ocean Conservation, Climate and Equity at the US White House, spoke of her experience in large-scale ocean conservation, leading the establishment of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and World Heritage Site in Hawai’i. She emphasized US conservation examples to promote building marine protected areas (MPAs) globally, particularly by recognising the tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
Cristina Mittermeier, President of Sea Legacy, wowed the audience with her words and beautiful videos playing in the background, as she shared how the right story changes everything “because, without stories, the ocean dies in silence.” She underscored that “30 by 30” is not a magical number, but just a target, and called upon Canada to create highly and fully protected MPAs.
After a coffee break, participants disappeared into parallel sessions where throughout the day presenters and panelists engaged in discussions navigating the streams of Indigenous People’s leadership, youth and innovation.
At one of them Markus Knigge, Executive Director, Blue Action Fund, announced the next call for proposal looking to invest 20 million Euro in MPAs and coastal communities in the Asia-Pacific region.