(Check against delivery)
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today. I really wish I could see all of you face to face. But as we all know, that is not an option at this time.
However, on the bright side, I am happy that this virtual form of meeting allows for such a great number of participants in this session, on an issue that is very close to my heart.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As long as humans have walked the earth, the ocean has been a source of inspiration for art, music and poetry, as well a place for rest and recreation.
However, beauty and inspiration is just a tiny part of all that the ocean provides us with.
The oceans are our pantries and our water reserves. They are our transport routes. They give us raw materials and energy.
And deep down under the surface, scientists are finding solutions to some of the great medical challenges of our time.
Even the test being used to diagnose the coronavirus was developed with the help of an enzyme isolated from an underwater microbe.
I know that many of you represent companies that base their business on the ocean. Like hundreds of millions of people you live directly or indirectly off the sea, and you need to be able to continue to do so.
This is not something that we can, or should, try to change. But what we must do, with the greatest urgency, is to find a way to use the ocean – without using it up.
With 2030 only a decade away, there is no time to spare. It is time to lead.
Today, the ambition must be more than sustainability – we need to become stewards of the planet. And the business sector is in a unique position to make that happen.
As an advocate alumni for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals I have chosen to focus on marine and water issues.
This has given me, among other things, the opportunity to be part of the SeaBOS initiative, which I believe some of you are familiar with.
SeaBOS stands for Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship. It involves ten of the world’s largest seafood companies, in close collaboration with a scientific team, led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and united by a vision of ocean stewardship.
On issues ranging from labour abuse to the use of plastics and antibiotics, the members of SeaBOS are using the best available science to set new standards for their industry, leading a global transformation towards sustainable seafood production and a healthy ocean.
Now, if ten large companies can start to transform their whole industry – just imagine what can be achieved with the almost ten thousand companies of the UN Global Compact!
When you move out of your comfort zone, and team up with science. When you make use of new, innovative tools for financing. And when you tap into the synergies of working across sectors.
This is what ocean stewardship is all about: securing the future of your industries by securing the future of our ocean.
Ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank all of you for your time, your commitment – and your courage.
Because indeed, it does take courage to make the right decisions. Especially when those decisions are difficult, uncomfortable, or sometimes expensive. But that is what true leaders do: They lead by example, letting their actions define their legacy.
Again: we need to find a way to use the ocean without using it up. Now, the world is looking to you to find that way. And I look forward to following your important work.