Their extent exceeds half of the Earth’s surface and embodies 80% of living species. Their already known ecosystems provide essential substances and active ingredients for medicine and the wellness industry. Their endless ‘economy’ provides food, energy, health and work. Their immense spaces are able to produce 50% of the necessary oxygen and to absorb more than 30% of carbon dioxide generated by human activities and more than 90% of excess heat retained in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases, mitigating the climate. We refer to the Oceans, whose vital importance is the focus of the United Nations Conference held in these days in Lisbon (Portugal).
In this framework, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation promoted an in-depth side-event about Polar Regions, in partnership with the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation and Océano Azul Foundation. ‘Polar Oceans: Engine to the Global Ocean’ gathered on the 28th June 2022 at the Océanario (local Oceanographic Museum) about one hundred distinguished panelists from the scientific world but also experts of the Poles as well as artists and film directors. The aim was to debate also on how to convey more effectively eco-messages based on scientific sources. That has been already launched during the workshop ‘The Cold is Getting Hot’ at the Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum in February, this year.
“I would like to stress how this role (played by Polar regions) is also political, as the Poles concentrate, as a laboratory, most of the issues that we face when it comes to action for the Oceans”… that encourages“prospects for solutions, notably through a number of areas of work whose effectiveness we know about”, pointed out the Sovereign Prince in His opening key note speech. The ongoing United Nations Decade of Ocean Science must be considered an important opportunity as reaffirmed by Dr Sian Henley, Marine Science Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and Vice-Chancellor President of the Southern Ocean Observing System.
Rising waters, loss of pack ice and acidification are some of the most impactful consequences the Polar marine biodiversity is being affected, including the composition of the ocean waters at the extreme Arctic and Antarctic regions. Scientific studies have proven this - as stated by Florence Colleoni, glaciologist and paleo-climatologist at Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e Geofisica Sperimentale – OGS (Italian National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics), and Professor Richard Bellerby, Scientific Director for Climate and Oceans at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA). Thus, a ‘call to action’ was put in place to keep the Poles the focus of our attention and of our actions. Five priorities have been fixed in order to make Polar Regions beneficial for the rest of the Planet. Notably: 1. Addressing climate change urgently; 2. Increase investment in polar research, substantially; 3. Minimize other anthropogenic pressures on poles; 4. Strengthening collaboration between Arctic and Antarctic scientific communities; 5. Bringing the Voice of the Polar Regions.
The event took place into two key sessions. In the first roundtable, Dr Renuka Badhe, Executive Secretary of the European Polar Board, highlighted the need for a collaborative research and inclusive work, worldwide. We must not forget that there is one and only one ocean which ensures global connectivity, so that the Artic and Antarctic Oceans largely determine the movements and circulation of heat, carbon, marine life and other substances for whole Planet, as recalled by Professor Michael Meredith, expert in oceanography and science leader at the British Arctic Survey. Supporting the work of scientists in order to strengthen our knowledge and predictive capacities is thus fundamental, considering that the human ability to predict the timing and magnitude of disruptive changes in the Poles is still too limited.
The second session focused on mediation between scientists and the public opinion. How can scientists be capable of putting into emotion their messages to amplify their target? A group of selected panelists tried to give some answers. Among them: Tiago Pitta e Cunha, CEO at the Oceano Azul Foundation, Robert Calcagno, CEO at Institut Océanographique de Monaco, Foundation Prince Albert I de Monaco, Giulia Foscari, architect and Luc Jacquet, most popular film director concerned by the environmental cause (note: he directed the Oscar winning ‘March of the Penguins’ in 2005). They agreed on the necessity to add an emotional dimension to the eco-messages conveyed in order to generate a greater commitment to the preservation of the ocean and more broadly of our Planet, and then increase the eco-awareness through the storytelling.
‘Polar Oceans: Engine to the Global Ocean’, boosted the new global trend committed to encourage more and more responsible human attitudes to protect the Environment. Now it is up to any concrete action, small or large, to make a difference. ***
To know more about the UN Ocean Conference please visit: https://www.un.org/en/conferences/ocean2022
By Maurice Abbati