On Wednesday and Thursday, I attended Our Ocean, a conference that was organized to build partnerships and knowledge to learn, share and act for a clean, healthy and productive ocean. The conference included government leaders, large and small businesses, research institutions and NGOs sharing the steps they are taking to protect the ocean including the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg and the Crown Prince, Haakon Magnus. Many discussed the trade-off between ocean productivity and protection, and humanity’s responsibility to consider both if we want to bring our ocean back into balance.
There were several innovation talks throughout the two days. Companies from around the world presented their solutions to help protect the ocean, leveraging new technologies, and the business opportunities they represent. These included:
· Aquaii – United States company saving the seas through fish-as-a-service.
· Corvus Energy – Energy storage company started in Vancouver 2009 and moved head office to Norway in 2019.
· Ocean Sun – Norwegian company that builds solar power on floating membranes.
· Ellipsis – UK company using machine learning for plastics tracking.
· Ocean Visuals – Norwegian company with lasers in the subsea to detect hydrocarbons and phytoplankton.
There were several other events happening in tandem as part of the conference. The first was jointly organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies and REVOcean. The CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies spoke about her understanding that only one per cent of philanthropic spending is on ocean despite that fact that it covers two-thirds of the planet. Bloomberg announced that it will be leveraging its tracking capability in conjunction with Global Fish Watch through the Bloomberg Terminal to allow more transparency around the location of fishing vessels and climate change information with the intent of driving more investment towards responsible actors.
REVOcean also asked me to participate in a financing panel to share the OSC approach and the opportunities in Canada. It was a panel of five women, a relatively rare event in the ocean space. The panel included Nordea and Asia Development Bank who talked about sustainable finance as well as the current trends and opportunities in ocean. In addition to myself, the panel also included RevOcean and the Katapult Accelerator, an accelerator focused on investing in impact-driven companies aiming to solve global challenges.
Friday, I spent the day meeting various organizations and gaining a greater understanding of the Norwegian ecosystem. I was very lucky with the weather that allowed me to walk around the city and explore the beautiful architecture as I moved between events.
My key takeaways:
❶ There are lots of similarities between Canada and Norway. Several I met commented on the easy cultural fit between organizations in the two countries. There is definitely more opportunity for organizations to work together and lots of interest in doing so.
❷ Governance when it comes to the ocean is a challenge for many countries. No one government department typically overseas all ocean activity which makes it difficult to develop coordinated solutions to ocean challenges. The OSC is working to help align ocean initiatives where we can to maximize impact while minimizing duplication.
❸ There are tremendous opportunities for Canadian companies to build solutions to produce and protect ocean resources, but the time is NOW. The ocean economy is growing fast and we need to be part of the solutions that impact our coastline; with the longest coastline in the world, we have much to gain but also much to lose.