18 Oct
2022

Take a Dive into Our Ocean Program: See How We’re Expanding

News

Open Earth’s Oceans Program launched in February 2022, with a goal of developing innovative tools to scale ocean conservation finance. Our program was launched with the support from the OceanDrop.art NFT fundraiser and the passionate artists who collaborated with OpenEarth to make this program possible, and to protect our ocean. Since the launch, we’ve made great progress. With collaboration, stakeholder meetings, and advancing technology in the marine industry, we will soon launch our first white paper on Marine Ecosystem Credits, with two more white papers to follow closely behind. 

Here we will explore:

-Our vision for the Oceans Program 🌊

-Workshop with the Costa Rican Government: Cocos Islands Pilot 🏝️

-Advanced Marine Ecosystem Credits: Our First White Paper 📝

-Meet the Ocean Program Team🦈

1) Our Vision for the Oceans Program

We are collectively watching the unfolding of environmental emergencies due to environmental degradation and the fundamental erosion of Earth’s system resilience —the ability of natural systems to prepare, adapt, withstand and recover after damage. One of the most crucial aspects to protecting the oceans relates to climate change and the need to prevent warming above 1.5C. The ocean is intertwined and interconnected with every environmental system and affects every organism on planet Earth; protecting biosphere integrity means protecting the diversity and abundance of life on Earth. 

For oceans, ecological concerns range from biodiversity collapse to plastic and chemical pollution to the extinction of species. It is therefore paramount to protect the ocean and its ecosystems. To do so, we need to significantly scale up marine conservation that allows meaningful data to be collected and action to be taken. Our initiative was inspired by the opportunity to support the Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica. These waters are home to the best conserved marine tropical waters in the world, with an abundance of marine life and one of the most diverse coral reefs. We have had the opportunity to work with Costa Rica’s stakeholders, in a plan to significantly expand the park’s protected ‘no-catch zone,’ and to implement advanced solutions to protect the waters.

Our mission is to design and build the digital architecture that is much needed to help conserve 30% of the ocean ecosystems by 2030.

We have seen the much needed aligning of science and geopolitics on a ‘Global Deal for Nature’ - one that targets 30% of Earth to be permanently protected by the year 2030 (i.e. 30x30). The 30x30 initiative encompasses the conservation of both land and ocean ecosystems, and the prevention of ecological impacts that affect them. 

2) Workshop with the Costa Rican Government: Cocos Island’s Pilot

The OpenEarth Foundation in collaboration with FAICO (Friends of Cocos Island) organized a multi-stakeholder workshop and important bilateral meetings with organizations to explore how emerging digital innovations can scale finance for marine protected areas in Costa Rica. Our efforts focus on the Coco's Marine Conservation Area which include the Cocos Island National Park and the Bicentennial Management Marine Area.

We worked alongside SINAC, Conservation International, MARVIVA, MINAE, the Costa Rican government, and other key stakeholders, to discuss advancements in our pilot project in Cocos Island and how we can implement marine ecosystem credits (eg. biodiversity, marine plastics, blue carbon and eutrophication). We explored how marine ecosystem credits can be designed together with novel financial instruments, such as nature-backed currencies, to see how they can advance financing for ocean conservation using digital tools. Costa Rica are leaders and innovators in conservation, and combined with local partners, government officials, park rangers, conservation experts, marine scientists and other stakeholder representatives, we were able to take away their experiences and knowledge to advance our mission.

Our takeaways from the workshop are to integrate aspects of the great work Costa Rica is already doing into the frameworks we have developed for innovative funding and metrics, which will help to establish a blueprint for action and next steps for pilot deployment in Costa Rica. 

3) Advanced Marine Ecosystem Credits: Our First White Paper Coming Soon

Ocean ecosystems are severely threatened by human activity, yet humanity directly depends on the ocean for survival. The global goal to protect 30% of ocean ecosystems by the year 2030 is essential, but the practice of ocean conservation does not have the funding mechanisms to support the scale of this effort. Currently, many marine conservation frameworks, such as marine protected areas (MPAs) and marine national parks, are constrained to rely on government funding and philanthropy; two processes that are not always scalable. This is where our Ocean Program comes in, aiming to innovate a solution. In our upcoming white paper on Marine Ecosystem Credits, we introduce fundamental designs for Marine Ecosystem Credits (MEC) Classes; families of credits specifically tailored for MPAs. These outcome- based credits are meant as financial instruments to support funding to scale up protection and restoration of ocean ecosystems in a scientifically meaningful way. In our white paper we will expand on advanced digital monitoring, reporting and verification to the types of marine credits we consider key factors in the conservation of marine ecosystems, such as marine plastics, blue carbon, marine biodiversity, and eutrophication. The ecological crediting system we propose is developed with the potential to support nature-backed currencies, sovereign instruments that can further incorporate natural capital into the global economic system. Keep an eye out for our future work on advancing marine conservation, collaboration and further protection of Earth. 

Join us in our mission and sign up here to be notified when our Marine Ecosystem Credits White Paper is published!

4) Meet the Team Behind the Ocean Program!

Dr. Martin Wainstein 
Executive Director 
“As we consolidate a Global Deal for Nature and conserve 30% of our planet by 2030, we need the financial mechanisms to achieve this scale, particularly for the Global South and threatened natural capital stocks. Our Ocean Program set out to develop mechanisms to consolidate ecosystem value in marine protected areas through robust science and digital technology tools. We are excited to soon publish the first whitepaper introducing the framework for Marine Protected Areas, and grateful to our partners in the Costa Rican government and NGOs that have served as the key pilot to test these new systems”

Maureen Fonseca 
Data Engineer & Project Manager
“Our planet earth is made up of 70% water where the oceans represent 97% of this total; in Costa Rica the oceanic area is 10 times the terrestrial area. Hence the importance of caring for the ocean and what lives in it. Being part of the OpenOceans team connects me with my purpose of collaborating with projects that generate a positive impact on the planet and what better way than developing a pilot plan in my country Costa Rica in Coco’s Island, a pioneer in the creation and execution of strategies to protect and conserve its natural resources through innovation.”

Louisa Durkin
Biodiversity Expert
“I’m really energized by the fact we get to work together with Costa Rica, one of the most ambitious nations when it comes to nature action. This project has the potential to shift the paradigm for funding Marine Protected Areas while also utilizing existing goals that Costa Rica has in place—from local management plans all the way to their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for the Paris Agreement.”

Ando Shah
Innovation Fellow
“It is a tremendous privilege to work with the government of Costa Rica on such an innovative project, where we can use the latest technology and work with the community to help protect our oceans. We hope to set a high standard for rigorous monitoring, reporting and transparency of ecosystem health in this crucial biome.”

Alex Constant
Innovation Fellow
"To say that the Open Earth Foundation’s Ocean Program offers a paradigm shift in how we think about the role of nature in human ecology is an understatement. The Ocean Program is one of those rare projects that leverage nature to address issues across the ecological, scientific, economic, and political domains. Such a program could only be implemented in partnership with a nation that has achieved, culturally and politically, such a level of integration with nature; hence my excitement over our partnership with Costa Rica!"   

Paige Lewington
Oceans Program Community Manager
“The ocean is something that feeds life into Earth, whether you can see it or not in day to day, it is sustaining you. So for me, I think we should give back and give the oceans a chance to thrive again. I’m thrilled to take part in advancing how we protect MPAs with innovative and advanced technology. Working with Costa Rica to learn and create solutions to scale conservation, is only the start of what we are going to do.”

Learn more about our Ocean Program here

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