Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the sixth edition of the World Ocean Summit will convene in Abu Dhabi next month, marking the very first time the international conference comes to the Middle East. The Summit will provide a forum for a global gathering of over 500 delegates – including heads of state, political leaders, policymakers, corporate heads and academics from more than 26 countries – to share dialogue on how best to innovate, govern and promote a sustainable blue economy, and explore new ways to mitigate the adverse impacts of human pressures on ocean health.
Hosted by the Abu Dhabi Government and supported by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the largest environmental regulator in the Middle East, and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), the World Ocean Summit will be held at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort from 5-7 March 2019. The World Ocean Summit will also be part of a series of activities celebrating the UAE’s rich seafaring traditions during the inaugural Abu Dhabi Blue Week running from 3-7 March 2019, which is set to feature a Heritage Village, a Dhow Show, a Beach Marathon, a Youth Circle discussion focusing on the importance of eco-tourism and a Blue Technology Exhibition by participating government entities, along Saadiyat Beach.
The conservation of the marine ecosystem remains a key priority for the UAE, as both an intrinsic part of the nation’s natural heritage, as well as a vital pillar supporting a booming blue economy – in line with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021. With around 760 kilometers of coastline, Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s largest population of the Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins and the second largest number of dugongs, among other marine species including sea turtles, sharks, and corals. An integrated marine management framework to promote the sustainable development of the ocean is critical for a region such as the Middle East, which has some of the warmest waters on the planet.
“It is a very proud occasion for Abu Dhabi to be hosting the prestigious World Ocean Summit in the Middle East for the time in its history,” said Her Excellency Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Acting Secretary General of EAD. “The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), in partnership with the Department of Economic Development (DED), is underscoring our collective global commitment towards the protection and preservation of local marine biodiversity, governance of coastal activities, and sustainable management of our marine resources through effective policy and regulation at the 2019 Summit. It will provide an important platform not only for us to engage and build international collaborations, but also showcase and share best practice and marine research from the region that is crucial in shaping the global priorities for oceans moving forward,” she added.
Ocean rim countries such as the UAE play a defining role in promoting healthy seas. Situated at the crossroads of the world, Abu Dhabi lies in close proximity to some of the fastest-growing economies and populations in the world that rely heavily on marine resources. Global ocean health is in decline, threatening the food, economic and climate security of communities around the world. Climate change, marine pollution, unregulated fishing, and the loss of habitats and biodiversity are all adding to the strain on sea life, placing a necessary imperative for effectively and sustainably managing the impacts of urbanisation and industrialisation on our oceans.
Commenting on this key upcoming event, His Excellency Rashed Al Blooshi, Acting Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development Abu Dhabi, said: “Hosting the World Ocean Summit in Abu Dhabi presents a unique opportunity to expand the global conversation on the sustainability of marine resources in the Middle East and the wider Indian Ocean region, as it is coming to this region for the first time. There remains much to be done to innovate and finance a sustainable blue economy. The World Ocean Summit presents a key platform to build bridges across regions for greater collaboration, presenting new ideas and perspectives on the future of our seas, and the development of sustainable blue economies.”
The World Ocean Summit is the centrepiece of The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative, which will host its largest number of attendees to date in Abu Dhabi this year. The overarching theme for this Summit is ‘Building Bridges’, which aims to foster further collaboration between the public and private sectors to find solutions and catalyse meaningful progress towards a sustainable blue economy. The three-day event will explore the role of Finance, Technology and Innovation, and Governance in the future of the ocean as its key themes. The World Ocean Summit in Abu Dhabi is supported by several regional and international organisations, institutes and business groups, with Etihad Airways selected as the official airline partner for the conference.
The 2019 Summit in Abu Dhabi will welcome distinguished experts across various sectors to amplify conversations on the sustainable development of the ocean in the Middle East, and beyond. Confirmed participants include Taneti Mamau, President of Kiribati; Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD; His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Andrew Hudson, Head of the Water and Ocean Governance at the United Nations Development Programme; and Ray Dalio, Co-Chief Investment Officer and Co-Chairman at Bridgewater Associates and Founder of OceanX.