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Blue Prosperity Newsletter: Blue Prosperity Leaders Call for Action at Our Ocean Conference

World leaders gathered at the Our Ocean Conference in Athens, Greece, and the inaugural Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting in Cyprus this week to advance achievements toward the collective goal of implementing 30% full protection of the world’s ocean before 2030. 


Blue Prosperity Leaders Advance 30% Ocean Protection at Our Ocean Conference Greece

Image: H.E. Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean; Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu Minister of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology and Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Management; Ted Waitt, Founder and Chairman of the Waitt Institute and Foundation; Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, Executive Director of the Waitt Institute; Hon. Secretary John Kerry, Former Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, USA; H.E. Wesley Simina, President of the Federated States of Micronesia; Hon. Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands; Hon. Hu'akavameiliku, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga; Hon. Walter Roban, Bermuda Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs; H.E. Filipo Tarakinikini, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations.

In line with the Our Ocean Conference’s theme “An Ocean of Potential,” high-level representatives spoke at the Blue Prosperity Coalition event, hosted by the Waitt Institute and the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC). Speakers  highlighted actions they are taking to safeguard their oceans and marine resources to benefit local communities, economies and environments, including: 

🇺🇸 Hon. Secretary John Kerry, keynote address

🇫🇲 H.E. President Wesley Simina, Federated States of Micronesia

🇵🇼 H.E. President Surangel Whipps Jr., Republic of Palau

🇹🇴 Hon. Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku, Kingdom of Tonga

🇧🇲 Hon. Walter H. Roban, JP, MP, Bermuda Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs

🇻🇺 Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu Minister of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology and Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Risk Management

🇬🇷 Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Greece Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and Member of the Hellenic Parliament

🌊 Ted Waitt, Waitt Foundation and Institute Founder & Chairman 

🌊 Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, Waitt Institute Executive Director, Master of Ceremonies 

Image: Hon. Secretary John Kerry giving the keynote address at the Blue Prosperity Coalition Reception.


Tonga has made great strides to achieve our 30 by 30 marine protected area target under the SDG 14 and 100% sustainably managed areas. However, this is only the beginning. We need to also be able to ensure there is meaningful monitoring and enforcement and a capacity to measure the effectiveness of the plan and implementation."

Hon. Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku, Kingdom of Tonga


Image: Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, Executive Director of the Waitt Institute shaking hands with Hon. Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku, Kingdom of Tonga, with H.E. Filipo Tarakinikini, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations.



Blue Prosperity Leaders Forum

Image: Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, Executive Director of the Waitt Institute, speaks at the Blue Prosperity Leaders Forum Roundtable in Athens, Greece.


The Blue Prosperity Leaders Forum, hosted by the Waitt Institute and the U.S. State Department, convened world leaders to discuss the pathways to successfully implementing marine protection commitments and advancing sustainable ocean management. The meeting included high level representation from Bermuda, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Maldives, Samoa, Tonga, the United States, and Vanuatu.


“Blue Prosperity Leaders Forum members are demonstrating bold action on their ocean commitments, and it’s critical that we all double down in the years ahead.”

-Hon. Secretary John Kerry


Hon. Minister Walter H. Roban, Bermuda Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, served as Chair of the Leaders Forum since its inception at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in 2022. 

Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Minister of Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was named the 2024-2025 Chair of the Blue Prosperity Leaders Forum. 

Image: Hon. Minister Walter Roban, Bermuda Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs speaking at the Blue Prosperity Leaders Forum.


“I am deeply honored to accept this role, and am excited about sharing Samoa’s successes and facilitating knowledge sharing amongst the Blue Prosperity leaders. Through close collaboration with our local communities, Samoa is crafting a Marine Spatial Plan aimed at safeguarding 30% of our ocean, ensuring the preservation of our way of life for generations to come.”

-Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Minister of Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment


The event’s dialogue was strengthened by representatives from National Geographic Pristine Seas, Oceano Azul Foundation, Blue Nature Alliance, Oceans 5, Dynamic Planet, Conservation International, and youth delegates from the Federated States of Micronesia and Portugal. 


Azores President Reaffirms Commitment to 30% Protection at Our Ocean Conference


"The Regional Government, under my leadership, has committed to protecting 30% of the Azores sea now, and not wait until 2030. Half of this area will be fully protected." 


The President of the Regional Government, Hon. José Manuel Bolieiro announced that the legal framework for the implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is ready and will soon be submitted to the Regional Parliament.


"Once completed, the new network of Marine Protected Areas will cover almost 300 thousand kilometres and will be the largest in the North Atlantic, providing Azoreans with a healthy ocean and a thriving blue economy - this is our vision and our commitment." 

-Hon. José Manuel Bolieiro, President of the Regional Government of the Azores

Image: Hon. José Manuel Bolieiro, president of the Regional Government of the Azores shaking hands with Hon. Secretary John Kerry.



Commonwealth Countries Strategized Collective Action on 30% Marine Protection by 2030



Image: Peseta Noumea Simi, Chief Executive Officer, Government of Samoa Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade; Dr. Nick Hardman-Mountford, Commonwealth Secretariat, Head of Oceans and Natural Resources; Dr. Enric Sala, Explorer in Residence; Executive Director, National Geographic Pristine Seas; Kristin Rechberger, Chief Executive Officer, Dynamic Planet; and Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, Executive Director of the Waitt Institute.


The inaugural Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting, hosted by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, provided a shared platform for Commonwealth countries on ocean issues. A roadmap and timeframe will be established to pave the way for the adoption of the Commonwealth Ocean Declaration during the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting taking place in Samoa in Oct. 2024.


The Government of Samoa, Waitt Institute, National Geographic Pristine Seas, the Commonwealth Blue Charter (CBC), and Dynamic Planet co-hosted a roundtable dialogue titled “Implementing the 30x30 Target for Marine Protection in the Commonwealth.” This meeting focused on the link between ocean health and climate resilience, as well as the need for sustainable financing to implement large-scale ocean protection commitments.


“190 countries have agreed that we need to fully protect at least 30% of our ocean before 2030, but this is a deadline and not a target. We need to work together to take immediate action to implement marine protection in order to secure a better future for our planet.”

-Dr. Kathryn Mengerink, Executive Director of the Waitt Institute



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