From October 29-30 I had the opportunity to attend the Our Ocean Conference in Bali. I was one of 200 young leaders from 50 countries who were selected to participate in the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit.
The theme of this year’s Our Ocean Conference was “Our Ocean Our Legacy”. Governments, companies and NGOs from around the world made commitments and took action to ensure the sustainability of our oceans. As future leaders, the young generation has an important role to play in the future of our ocean, and the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit aimed to inspire and support youth action.
One important area of ocean sustainability is the impact of climate change and ocean acidification. Preventative measures could be applied on land, in the ocean or in coastal areas such as coral reef, mangroves and seagrass meadows. While coral reef and mangrove ecosystems are already well-known, I believe many people are still unaware of the important role that seagrass ecosystems play in climate change mitigation, as well as other important functions such as nursery areas for important fishery species.
According to a report by the Indonesian Institute of Science, we have 15 of the 60 described species of seagrass in Indonesia, with seagrass meadows extending over 150,693 ha, the second largest seagrass area in the world. Seagrass ecosystems sequester atmospheric carbon and help to regulate greenhouse gases, They can be thought of as a “blue carbon sink”.
While many climate change mitigation efforts focus on mangroves, I submitted a proposal to the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit that seagrass ecosystems should also be considered as part of Indonesia’s actions to mitigate climate change. As part of this idea, I will lead an initiative to work with local communities and engage at least 70 people to plant 200 seagrass and 1,000 mangrove seedlings in Kepulauan Seribu during 2019. My proposal was accepted, and I had the chance to join 200 other young leaders at the Our Ocean Conference.
the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit provided an opportunity for people like me who are at an early stage of their career and passionate about ocean sustainability to share our ideas and commitments, and to establish networks around the world. Many other ideas were presented at the Summit, including an initiative to create eco-bricks from marine plastic pollution, education programs for children, research studies, and efforts to improve consumer knowledge and purchasing decisions. I had the opportunity to learn from speakers who are leading their own environmental startup businesses focussing on issues such as oil spilling prevention, sustainable products made from seaweed, technologies such as Remotely Operated Vehicles and sustainable seafood markets. I learned so much from these experts about emerging trends in the world of marine research, and was impressed by the actions that so many multinational companies, NGOs, governments and communities are taking to ensure the sustainability of our oceans.
This event really made me think about my own personal actions and the consequences that they will have on nature. Not only the actions I take through my career, but also the things that we all do or buy every day. I am even more inspired to learn, to share this information, to raise awareness, and to engage more people to care about our oceans. I was reminded of a famous quote that I think is very important for the future of our oceans.
“If not us then who? If not now then when?”.