The ocean is critical for life on earth. It sustains the livelihoods for billions of people around the world, produces nearly 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and regulates our climate. It also provides us with many natural ecosystem services including:

  • Food production
  • Carbon storage
  • Coastal protection
  • Biochemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Tourism and recreation

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the “blue economy” brought US$1.5 trillion in value added to the world economy in 2010.

However, the ocean is warming and becoming more acidic because of increased atmospheric CO2 emissions. More than 93% of the enhanced heating since the 1970s due to human activities and the greenhouse effect has been absorbed by the ocean - so average global sea surface temperature is increasing by around 0.13°C per decade.

This is causing:

  • Sea ice loss: central Arctic Ocean sea ice thinned by 65% between 1975 and 2012
  • Sea level rise: currently at a rate of 3mm each year
  • Increased storm intensity: over the last 20 years there has been an intensification and change in the El Niño events
  • Deoxygenation of parts of our ocean and decline in salinity
  • Tourism and recreation

In addition, destructive fishing practices, overfishing, and pollution are all contributing to significant changes in the ocean.

These changes, in turn, are having an impact both on ocean life and human life. Ecosystems are being degraded and destroyed. Around 1-2% of coral reefs are being lost each year. The ocean’s microbial balance is changing. Harmful algal blooms are increasing. Plankton and fish distribution is changing.

The consequences of ocean change will have impacts on humans far beyond coastal and maritime regions. No matter where we live, we will all be affected, with economies, ecosystems and livelihoods at risk.

There are major implications for:

  • Food security
  • Human health
  • Weather system changes
  • National security and migration

The Ocean Risk Summit will help participants understand ocean change and the threats it presents to human society.


Leaders in politics, policy-making, finance, environmental management, technology, risk, law and regulation need to understand the challenges that ocean change presents. More information will help us define and quantify ocean risk so that we can develop effective mitigation and adaptation strategies, and shape a more sustainable future for the ocean.



The ocean’s value to all life on earth and its potential to drive sustainable economic growth and employment are being jeopardised because of ocean risk. Governments, policy makers and other stakeholders can act to build ocean resilience, using new approaches and technologies to help build resilient societies and nurture sustainable development.



Managing ocean risk needs to be undertaken through a multi-sectoral approach. Alongside identifying financial instruments which will drive the mitigation of ocean risk, technological advances in collecting ocean data now make the assessment and management of ocean risk feasible providing the opportunity to develop innovative and scalable solutions.