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‘Is it too late to save our oceans?’

SMMI Deputy Director, Professor Susan Gourvenec and SMMI Policy Fellow, Dr Wassim Dbouk took part in an online event organised by the University of Southampton for the run up to COP26 to highlight the essential role of oceans in a sustainable future.

The event, ‘Is it too late to save our oceans?’, which had over 500 audience members tune in on the night, was hosted by Dr Jon Copley, who featured in the BBC’s Blue Planet series, an alumnus of Southampton and currently Associate Professor in Ocean Exploration and Public Engagement within Ocean & Earth Science.

The first speaker on how dynamic the ocean is

The first presentation of the night was delivered by Professor Harry Bryden, Regius Professor in Ocean Sciences, who spoke about how dynamic the ocean is, and how much change we are seeing and the impact that this is having.

Second speaker on increasing scale of ocean intervention challenges

Professor Susan Gourvenec then presented about ocean interventions – how we intervene in the oceans and for what reasons, the products and services we go to the oceans for, environmental and technical challenges presented by the increasing scale of ocean interventions, and some potential solutions to meet our needs from the ocean while also meeting the needs of the ocean.

 Third speaker how UK is planning to reach Net Zero by 2050

The final presentation delivered by Dr Wassim Dbouk outlined a governmental perspective on how the UK is planning to reach Net Zero by 2050 and what role is reserved for the oceans in HM Government’s plans. Wassim presented the evolution of targets and commitments in the UK Government’s strategies and policies around the oceans in response to changing global circumstances (e.g. climate change, COVID-19), and highlighted the critical role that research must continue to play to fill important knowledge gaps and inform future policymaking, but also the role of behaviour change and public awareness raising in meeting net zero.

The three presentations were followed by Q&A, addressing a wide range of topics including “How can we as the general public have a positive influence on this matter?”, “What are we trying to save in the oceans?”, “Do we need more ocean knowledge or better ocean protection?”, “If you could change one government policy tomorrow, what would it be?” and “What have you learnt about life by exploring the oceans”.
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