A Blue Economy and Ocean Justice? What can we expect from COP28?

Editor's note:

Johanna Lovecchio, Isatis Cintron, Arpana Giritharan 

November 29, 2023

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP28, held from 30 November until 12 December 2023, will take place against a challenging backdrop as the recently published Emissions Gap Report shows that global warming is on track for up to 2.9°C. Building on the Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue that took place from 13-14 June 2023 in Bonn, Germany and the Ocean and Coastal Impact System targets of the Sharm-El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, COP28  presents critical opportunities to scale up ocean-related mitigation and adaptation activities as it convenes ocean leaders from around the world in 70+ events as part of the first-ever Ocean Pavilion in the Blue Zone, and other actors such as the Island Innovation Network among others. 

There are 10 programming themes surrounding oceans: 1) ocean, carbon and climate connections; 2) ocean stressors, signals and warning signs; 3) ocean resources; 4) rising seas; 5) climate & the living ocean; 6) the urban ocean; 7) climate justice & empowered voices; 8) blue economy & finance; 9) ocean 2030 and 10) blue solutions & innovation.

Key expectations for COP28

  1. Address interlinked issues for small island developing states (SIDS) including reforming financial architecture, and operationalising the Loss & Damage Fund 
  2. Continued negotiation and discussion around climate justice, loss and damage and coastal and ocean-based communities and societies
  3. Scaling up ocean-related public finance which will stimulate private market investment into nature-based solutions. These include channeling financial flows towards coastal restoration projects and natural capital, through blue carbon projects for example.
  4. Recognizing and integrating the role of the blue economy and oceans throughout conversations about climate change mitigation, adaptation, as well as loss and damage
  5. Recognizing the role of voluntary carbon mechanisms, specifically blue carbon projects, to offset emissions, especially as the Article 6 rulebook is negotiated

Calls to Action

COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration - Partners of the Ocean Pavilion, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography/University of California San Diego have called on world leaders to scale up ocean observations to better understand its role in mitigation and adaptation, with a focus on capacity building in underrepresented communities.

Race to Resilience and Race to Net Zero launched ocean-related breakthroughs at previous COPs to scale up momentum for ocean-related climate action. These include:

  • The Mangrove Breakthrough launched at COP27 to conserve 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030
  • The Coral Reef Breakthrough launched by International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to conserve 125,000 km2 of shallow-water tropical coral reefs with investments of at least US$12 billion

Engagement opportunities

View the full agenda of ocean-related events in the Blue Zone

Sign up to the Ocean Pavilion Newsletter

Follow Island Innovation Island Voices @ COP28  and side events

Connecting back to Columbia 

For more information, or if you are at COP28 and working on ocean-, coastal-, or island-related topics and would like to engage with us or the Coastal Resilience Earth Network, please contact Coastal Resilience Earth Network Co-Directors: 

Johanna Lovecchio, Director of Program Design for Climate Action, Co-Director Coastal Resilience Earth Network - [email protected]

Isatis Cintron-Rodriguez, Climate Justice Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Co-Director Coastal Resilience Earth Network  - [email protected]

Kate Orff, Faculty Director of the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes; Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Co-Director Coastal Resilience Earth Network - [email protected]