In committing to the nine principles, companies pledge to take action to prevent pollution, manage their use of marine resources to ensure long-term sustainability, and be transparent about their ocean-related activities and impacts.
30 companies and institutional investors have signed up to the UN Global Compact's Sustainable Ocean Principles, committing to take action to secure a healthy and productive ocean.
The signatories include companies from a wide array of industries, including container ship and supply vessel operator A.P. Møller – Mærsk, tech giant Cisco, global chemical producer Dow Inc, food and beverage company PepsiCo; and Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages one of the world’s largest funds with over US$1 trillion in assets.
“The rapid deterioration of ocean health — which deeply affects biodiversity, coastal communities and the health of the planet — must be urgently addressed,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “The deterioration is caused by human activity, and we need to create a tipping point where a critical mass of businesses use their capacity and competence to solve this challenge.”
The Sustainable Ocean Principles were developed by the UN Global Compact Action Platform on Sustainable Ocean Business in consultation with stakeholders from the private sector, NGOs, academic institutions and UN agencies. In committing to the nine principles, companies pledge to take action in the following areas:
Ocean health and productivity
Principle 1: Assess the short- and long-term impact of business activities on ocean health and incorporate such impacts into strategy and policies.
Principle 2: Consider sustainable business opportunities that promote or contribute to restoring, protecting or maintaining ocean health and productivity and livelihoods dependent on the ocean.
Principle 3: Take action to prevent pollution affecting the ocean, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their operations to prevent ocean warming and acidification, and work towards a circular economy.
Principle 4: Plan and manage their use of and impact on marine resources and space in a manner that ensures long-term sustainability; and take precautionary measures where their activities may impact vulnerable marine and coastal areas, and the communities that depend on them.
Governance and engagement
Principle 5: Engage responsibly with relevant regulatory or enforcement bodies on ocean-related laws, regulations and other frameworks.
Principle 6: Follow and support the development of standards and best practices that are recognized in the relevant sector or market contributing to a healthy and productive ocean and secure livelihoods.
Principle 7: Respect human-, labor- and indigenous peoples’ rights in the company’s ocean- related activities, including exercise appropriate due diligence in their supply chain; consult and engage with relevant stakeholders and communities in a timely, transparent and inclusive manner; and address identified impacts.
Data and transparency
Principle 8: Where appropriate, share relevant scientific data to support research on and mapping of relevance to the ocean.
Principle 9: Be transparent about their ocean-related activities, impacts and dependencies in line with relevant reporting frameworks.
The Sustainable Ocean Principles were highlighted last week at the Our Ocean Conference 2019 in Oslo, as one of the commitments businesses can make. Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway — the host country of the conference — said, “Bringing the private sector together as the UN Global Compact is doing, has a huge impact. When finance, classification, insurance and the operating companies together set the expectations higher, we as Governments should take that as a clear call to action.”
Initially launched during the UN General Assembly in September, the Sustainable Ocean Principles are intended to build upon and supplement the overarching Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. In January 2020, the UN Global Compact will publish a set of practical guidance documents to support companies in advancing ocean sustainability in different sectors.
“The growing threat that packaging waste poses to our communities and marine environments is one that must be taken seriously and acted upon with urgency,” said Simon Lowden, Chief Sustainability Officer of PepsiCo. “PepsiCo’s sustainable packaging vision is a world where plastics need never become waste; and through investment, innovation and partnership, we will continue to do our part, working aggressively on solutions toward a circular economy.”