How much are the Oceans worth?

The Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative presented the key results of studies on the economic value of the benefits we derive from the sea.

The Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative, a program run by the Foundation over the last five years in support of studying the economic value of the benefits we derive from the sea, is presenting its key results and the impact attained by its work at the conference “The Value of the Oceans”.

In a survey carried out of around 200 companies that operate in the marine environment, 80 per cent considered it “urgent” to take measures to protect and conserve the “natural capital”, which encapsulates the stock of natural resources. However, only 30 per cent of these companies are considering taking any such measures in the short term ranks among the findings of one of the various studies undertaken by the Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative (2013-2017) that sought to raise awareness and empower the business sector in terms of taking more sustainable decisions.

The end of October saw the conference presenting, in summary fashion, the work of the last five years in conjunction with a broad reaching community, with discussion of the importance of translating the knowledge produced by researchers and the role that foundations and NGOs might play in this mediation with citizens, clearly explaining the fundamental problems – because if we do not know the value of what the oceans provide us with, we also do not know the value of what it shall continue to provide into the future should we be able conserve this environment never mind just what we shall be losing should we allow the degradation or even destruction of such resources. “Scientists are not used to talking to society but they have to learn how to do so if they also want to be able to boost the value of their work”, as one discussion panel affirmed within the scope of underlining the need to foster more interdisciplinary research that may contribute to better marine policies in Portugal.

The economic impact of the gigantic waves of Nazaré, which demonstrates how media coverage proves able to reverse a negative regional trend in tourism, the economic viability of marine based renewables and the negative environment impact of dragnet fishing in Portugal, an activity now proven to benefit excessively from disproportionate subsidies given the values returned to the economy, featured among the other themes that concentrated the resources deployed by the Oceans Initiative.

These are results are now set out in the “policy briefs” – summaries of specific problems with recommendations for the definition of policies targeting decision makers and other interested parties.