IMS Conference: The Way To A Sustainable Blue Economy

Left to right: Prof. Hans-Otto Pörtner, Prof. Marcel Jaspars, Dr. Antonia Leroy, and Prof. Chris Bowler during round table segment. (© IMS)

Inspiring More Sustainability (IMS) Luxembourg recently hosted the conference “towards a sustainable blue economy,” gathering experts to discuss marine sustainability challenges and opportunities. The event highlighted the importance of the ocean as an ally in combating climate change and preserving biodiversity.

Keynote speakers included Prof. Chris Bowler (ENS Paris), Daniela Cedola (PwC), and Ambroise Fayolle vice president of the EIB, who presented insights on topics such as decarbonizing the seas, protecting marine resources, and fostering a sustainable blue economy. The conference displayed the critical need for innovative solutions and collaborative efforts to ensure a sustainable future for our oceans. 

Photographer and explorer Alexis Rosenfeld showcased his compelling work through a movie presentation, highlighting the crucial role of oceans in our ecosystem. His visual storytelling captured the beauty and fragility of marine environments, emphasizing the need for their protection. Through stunning underwater footage and narratives, Rosenfeld’s work illustrated the interconnectedness of ocean health and global sustainability, inspiring attendees to consider the profound impact of human activities on marine life and the urgent necessity for conservation efforts.

“The online reports say that 55% of global biodiversity depends directly on the preservation of, including marine biodiversity. That’s important. Money is linked to nature,” said Alexis Rosenfeld, explorer, photographer, and marine activist.

EIB and the environment 

The blue economy plays a key role at the European Investment Bank (EIB). As a major partner, the EIB has significantly contributed to the advancement of projects within the blue economy. Over the last five years alone, the EIB has financed approximately Є7.3bi worth of initiatives in the renewable energy sector, which have generated over 30 billion in positive outcomes. 

A key strategy involves enticing additional investors to participate in these projects, thereby amplifying their impact. Since 2019, the EIB has prioritized climate projects while discontinuing funding for fossil fuel projects. Noteworthy among these endeavors are four projects focused on decarbonization, wind turbines, and the “clean oceans initiative,” which was launched in response to the alarming imbalance between plastic waste and marine life.

Biodiversity and climate diagnosis

The first session dove into the ocean’s critical role as a climate regulator and biodiversity reservoir. Speakers Prof. Hans-Otto Pörtner and Dr. Antonia Leroy discussed the pressing threats to marine ecosystems, emphasizing the need for active conservation and sustainable resource management strategies. “I am from civil society, and to see that we all agree, deeply, on the solutions, was great. It was brilliant to see the political will to move forward and continue the fight for a better climate,” said Dr. Leroy. 

Champions for ocean policy

Dr. Antonia Leroy, Head of Ocean Policy at WWF European Policy Office, was a prominent guest speaker and panelist at the IMS conference. She leads WWF’s efforts to secure healthy ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries at the EU level, drawing on her extensive expertise in ocean governance and combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. During the round table discussions, Dr. Leroy provided valuable insights into the sustainable management of marine resources and the protection of marine wildlife and habitats, reinforcing the importance of robust ocean policies for environmental and human well-being.

“We see that there are a lot of harmful subsidies, fossil fuel activities, that we need to transition into renewable energy,” said Dr. Leroy

A dive into ocean conservation

Alexis Rosenfeld, professional diver, photographer, and explorer, discovered his passion for diving at the age of eight. This passion led him to a remarkable career,witnessing the changing underwater landscapes, Rosenfeld became a dedicated environmental advocate. In 2018, he began collaborating with UNESCO’s intergovernmental oceanographic commission on the “coral reefs, a challenge for humanity” project. 

Today, he leads the international scientific exploration project “1 OCEAN,” continuing his mission to protect marine environments. “The ecosystem value of the underwater forests is $500bi per year. I think it’s an important figure to understand how human beings are directly linked to this nature. These underwater forests, are one of the subjects of tomorrow, they are the ones that trap carbon. So here we are, things are very real, and human beings must not be above nature,” said Rosenfeld.

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