The ocean covers over 70% of the planet. For now, it is our sole source of life amidst the hostile vastness of space, supporting every lifeform on earth, man and beast. Producing at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the globe. So, when Dutch and German government scientists Sjoerd Groeskamp and Joakim Kjellsson debuted preparation plans for climate change mitigation failure. Their proposed super-structure was named – Northern European Enclosure Dam, a name which shortened into the headline grabbing reality: NEED.
Since it is “impossible to truly fathom the magnitude of the threat that global sea level rise poses”, the scientists proposed building NEED to “fence off’ and enclose the North Sea in order to defend Northern Europe from rising sea levels. Costing £422 billion, spanning 295 miles and requiring 51 billion tons of sand to build – the world’s entire annual sand budget for infrastructure and reclamation, the pair of dams is something we truly NEED (pun intended) only protects crucial European economic regions – what about the rest of the world?
Blancpain and the Ocean: essential stewardship
With an estimated 40 million people employed by ocean-based industries by 2030, it goes without saying that the ocean is not just a literal source of life but also an economic lifeline for the many communities that depend on it, not to mention the world trade’s via shipping routes.
From the birth of the world’s first modern diving watch – the legendary Fifty Fathoms, Blancpain has made its mark in the oceans. Not just as a progenitor of the watchmaking genre of modern tool watches but also intimate connections with the world’s oceans and the communities dedicated to their preservation. Working closely with passionate divers, leading scientists, underwater explorers, environmentalists, and photographers, Blancpain’s mandate has grown far beyond the creation of the world’s finest diving timepieces.
Devoting substantial resources ocean preservation and the building of public understanding of the cause, Blancpain stood proudly beside other global leaders as presenting partner of the 2021 edition of the annual United Nations World Oceans Day – hosted by Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), and produced in partnership with Oceanic Global.
According to a Jan 2021 Oxfam International Report, the richest 1% of the global population have used two times as much carbon as the poorest 50% over the last 25 years and yet, climate change will disproportionally hit the most impoverished the hardest. Blancpain has supported The Economist’s World Ocean Summit since the very first edition in 2012.
This Summit has become the leading global platform for leaders in business, finance, government, and civil society to debate the greatest challenges facing the seas, share bold strategies to help tackle them, and form partnerships that will mobilise the action needed to build a sustainable ocean economy.
Indeed, with 90% of big fish populations depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, the involvement of local populations is a topic Blancpain explores as a subject of its many marine exploration and preservation projects, recently conducted as part of the Blancpain Ocean Commitment.
How can the world achieve a balance between ocean restoration and economic prosperity?
The ocean is also an enormous economic asset. Around 90 percent of the world’s goods are traded across the ocean. Hundreds of millions of people work in fishing and mariculture, shipping and ports, tourism, offshore energy, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics—all rely on resources only a healthy ocean can offer. By some estimates, the ocean economy directly contributes more than $1.5 trillion a year to the global economy and putting a resource this critical at risk is reckless.
The ocean is becoming warmer, more acidic, stormier, higher, more oxygen-depleted, less predictable and less resilient—and neither the problems it is facing nor the wealth it yields are distributed equitably: Climate change is disproportionately affecting the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised people. When the Brand presented the first modern diver’s watch, the Fifty Fathoms in 1953, the study of these pressing issues through ocean exploration and conservation became core to Blancpain.
During the past 65 years, Blancpain has maintained an unfailing commitment to exploring, preserving and achieving a better understanding of the world’s oceans. this dedication has been intensified and diversified through multiple partnerships. In addition, the brand introduced a series of limited edition Blancpain Ocean Commitment (BOC) timepieces, with a portion of revenues going towards Blancpain’s much larger philanthropic contributions in support of the oceans.
For the past several years, Blancpain’s Ocean Commitment has been manifested in not just The Economist’s World Ocean Initiative, but also through its partnerships with leading organizations, such as Laurent Ballesta’s Gombessa Project, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and the National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas Expeditions (2011-2016).
These efforts also include participation in the Rainbow Fish Project and the United Nations World Oceans Day, support for free diver Gianluca Genoni and for the prestigious Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award, as well as collaboration with the Edition Fifty Fathoms publication.
Through the adventures of these intrepid divers enabled by Blancpain, we are starting to discover that the ocean holds many of the urgent solutions humanity and the planet need. More fish and seafood production can provide abundant climate-friendly proteins for a growing population.
Offshore clean energy can power the world many times over. Mangroves and seaweed can provide food, fuel and fibre while mitigating climate change and boosting biodiversity. Genetic resources in the ocean can advance health and fight disease.
To date, Blancpain Ocean Commitment has achieved tangible results, notably contributing to the coverage of marine protected areas around the world, with the addition of more than four million km2. Over time, sustainable ocean management could help the ocean produce as much as 6 times more food and generate 40 times more renewable energy than it currently does while contributing one-fifth of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to keep the world within the 1.5°C temperature rise limit set by the Paris Agreement goals by 20507.
This would in turn help lift millions of people out of poverty, improve equity and gender balance, increase economic and environmental resilience, build the industries of the future and provide low-carbon fuel and feed for activities on land.