Gulbenkian Ocean

Valuing and protecting the ocean

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation aims to enhance the role the ocean plays in fighting climate change and in sustainable economic development.

The importance of the ocean

  • The ocean is the largest ecosystem on the planet: it covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and produces more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe;
  • It captures 30% of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere;
  • It plays a critical role in protecting the climate, absorbing 90% of all warming in the past 50 years;
  • It enables the development of several economic activities and offers a vast variety of food, pharmacological and medicinal resources, renewable energy sources, and space for transport and carrying out sports and recreational activities.

The key to many of the challenges we face lies in ensuring a healthy ocean. However, human activities, including the emission of greenhouse gases, are seriously affecting the health of the ocean, which is becoming warmer, more acidic, oxygen-poor and less resilient.

Supporting projects that explore the opportunities offered by the ocean is, therefore, a top priority for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation under its Sustainable Development Programme.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the ocean

Over the past decade, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has advanced scientific knowledge and raised public awareness of the ocean’s role in human prosperity and sustainable development, both in Portugal (since launching the Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative) and through its UK branch.

Currently, the Foundation’s actions in this area focus on: 

  • Promoting greater awareness of the economic value of the ocean;
  • Leveraging ocean-based climate solutions;
  • Supporting the creation and development of projects that use blue biotechnology to tackle social and environmental problems and for sustainable economic growth;
  • Fostering effective communication on the ocean-climate nexus.



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