One Ocean chose Milan, Italian economic capital to host the First Ocean Week. The event will take place every year, and get us closer to the seas
Milano Ocean week 2022: One Ocean Foundation commitment
On the occasion of World Oceans Day on June 8th, One Ocean Foundation launched the first Milan Ocean Week, with the aim of making it a yearly event. On May 18th 2022, a new study came out underlying a new negative record for our planet: 2021 was the year with the worst ocean acidification ever registered. This makes Ocean Week key to raise awareness and act to save our seas. It will last from June 8th to 12th and involve a number of public and private institutions; from the City of Milan, to the Library of Trees (BAM – Biblioteca degli Alberi di Milano), to the Natural History Museum, among others. OOF wants to spread the message that «everyone, adults and children, private citizens and companies alike, are connected to the sea». Everyone has to do whatever they can to help. «Ocean’s health concerns us all, and we chose Milan, economic capital of our country, to spread this message», says Magni, «our wish is that this week can become an actual BLUE week, an occasion for promoting knowledge, discussion and innovation».
2021 was the warmest year ever for the ocean. One Ocean Foundation started in February 2018, following the success of the One Ocean Forum an event organized on the occasion of the Fiftieth anniversary of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, a sports association based in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. We spoke to Operations Director Giulio Magni: «Yacht Club Costa Smeralda wanted to develop a project focusing on the protection of the sea». As a yacht club, the sea is the primary element of work. It seemed fait to take action.
First Step: One Ocean Forum
The first step was key: it started with conversation. As Magni told us, «Representatives of both institutions and academia were invited to debate and work together on specific issues that could contribute to the wellbeing of the ocean». Here the ocean is to be intended as the combination of all seas on the planet. The forum was the first international event dedicated to the ocean. The aim of coming together was to create a net of people and institutions so that they could cooperate to help the marine environment. The «Charta Smeralda» was also drawn up and signed on that occasion: an ethical code of conduct addressing all structures and businesses that work in close contact with the sea, as well as a number of public and private, national and international institutions.
The point is to take responsibility and commit to a shared best practice. At the first Forum the photographer Anne Carbuccia was also present. Her work focuses on human impact on the already stressed planet. She showcased a series of pictures featuring the ocean, expressing the urgency to take action in order to preserve life on the planet. From the discussion that took place at the forum came the decision to establish a One Ocean Foundation, starting in February 2018 «with the aim of protecting the marine ecosystem by creating a network and a platform at the service of the seas». This was possible thanks to a combination of private businesses, institutions – such as the Italian National Council of Research (CNR) and Bocconi University – and the creation of a scientific committee. Since then, the project has been financed by a growing pull of companies, reaching eighteen businesses in 2022.
Lampoon reporting: One Ocean Foundation, pillars and actions
The work at One Ocean is based on three pillars. Education, research and what they call the blue economy. «It means studying the relationship between business activities and the wellbeing of the ocean». As of today, they carried out a hundred and eighty projects. Financed by both the foundation and a number of partners. So far, they involved more than twenty thousand students.
One Ocean relies on the development of eight different platforms to inform and create resonance on their activities and principles. All actions are based upon the knowledge and research of the scientific committee, who also identifies the most urgent issues to tackle and messages to share. Magni defines the success they had both as unexpected and «facilitated by the rising attention towards environmental issues». In this context One Ocean aims as being an accelerator of change. Encouraging cooperation rather than competition, even when it comes to business.
One Ocean’s cross-pollination between private and public
Institutions help enhance credibility and talking to the people raises awareness. However working with private companies «makes change faster and more impactful». Companies have more power on the market. One Ocean Foundation works with Rolex, L’Oreal, Allianz, Banca Intesa, among others. If big partners change their business strategies to be more respectful of the marine environment, results are obtainable on a larger scale.
Economic autonomy also comes from business investing in the foundation. On the other hand, «everything we do must have scientific backing and authority». Here is where the scientific committee, institutions and academia come in. They work with scholars of the stature of Sandro Carniel, the first Italian oceanographer. Local institutions are also getting on board, like the prefecture of Milan. Six different Italian cities, such as Venice, Florence, La Spezia and Cortina, signed the Charta Smeralda, identifying the issues to be tackled and initiatives to be promoted.
Ocean Planet: a new definition for planet Earth
One Ocean proposes the definition of Planet Ocean, rather than Planet Earth for our home: «after all more than seventy percent of it is water». More than ninety percent of the water on the planet is sea water: «our planet is Blue, but called Earth, nobody realizes the seas have a key role in mitigating global warming». 2021 registered the highest water temperatures. This figure is worrying but has a specific reason: «oceans are able to absorb the heat in excess generated by the greenhouse effect». Phytoplankton also produces fifty percent of the oxygen we breathe. The sea is also central for the global economy: all financial activities that revolve around the sea are quantified, generating the seventh largest global economy.
The value is priceless
We often hear about the Amazon forest and relate it to the capture of C02. However «a recent study found that a cachalot can absorb the same amount of C02 of several hectares of forest». For some reason we are less likely to associate the sea to climatic mitigation than forests or trees. Natural capital must be factored in and valued, as far as money goes too.
«The sea is often still unexplored and unaccounted for». They promoted the claim «we are all one ocean». This is to get the idea across that every action impacts on the ocean. And citizens should be active and take care of the ocean even if they live far from it. Agriculture for instance seems far from impacting on the ocean, but all chemicals used in growing processes are washed away in rivers and then freed in the sea. The same applies to microplastics and stubs.
Blue Economy: changing business dynamics to protect seas
«The term Blue Economy» Magni explains, «can be misleading because used in many contexts». The meaning accepted is the last that the scientific community approved. «A conservative use of marine resources». This applies both to people and businesses. The preservation of all resources is key. «Guaranteeing protection for future generations».
This does not concern people, businesses and places that are in proximity of the sea, but all industries and actions that will weigh on its wellbeing – from water depuration to waste management. Ecology and economy must work together. The first reason is linguistic: they both have their root in the Greek word oikos, meaning home. For some reason, in the Anthropocene we tend to associate ecology to the larger scheme of things – our home in the most extensive version; and economy to our private home and personal gain, often resulting in greed. To protect the planet, the handling of our home (literally economy) has to consider the bigger picture.
One Ocean Foundation Young Challenge
One of the goals of the Foundation is to involve and mobilize young people. In 2021, they created a challenge addressing students to make them protagonists of change. A number of disciplines involved differentiate in three categories: Sea and Science, Sea and Art, Sea and Words. Participants must be attending the last three years of high school. Participation is open to either individuals or groups of up to six members.
For Sea and Science the aim is «to propose a scientific study where a sailing trip can become an opportunity for data collection and education at the sea». The point is using citizen science, by developing a project that is feasible by non-professionals. The Sea and Art challenge aims at creating and exploring the connections between the sea and «our cities. But also our lives and future», through with a visual creation. To submit to the Sea and Words category, students have to write a blog post exploring the same connection. Considering different disciplines shows how interdisciplinarity is key to solving global issues, especially concerning the environment.
One Ocean Foundation
A foundation aiming at accelerating solutions to ocean issues by inspiring international leaders, institutions, companies and people; promoting sustainable blue economy and enhancing ocean knowledge through ocean literacy.