The European Union on Wednesday announced it would dedicate 816.5 million euros (US$865 million) to ocean conservation in 2023.
At the Our Ocean global conference in Panama, the EU confirmed its "strong commitment to protect, restore and take care of the ocean" backed by funding of 816.5 million euros this year. The funds are set to be divided amongst 39 separate initiatives laid out by the conference.
"The ocean is part of who we are, and it is our shared responsibility," EU environment, oceans and fisheries commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said in a statement.
Of the over 800 million euro sum, the EU will dedicate 320 million towards ocean biodiversity research to address the impacts of climate change on the world’s largest bodies of water. The EU also stated it plans to launch Sentinel-1C, a satellite intended to monitor the state of icebergs, as part of its continued commitment to climate vigilance.
Another 12 million euros will go towards Copernicus, a monitoring system meant to keep track of environmental changes across the globe, to build a Copernicus Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The efforts come as members of the conference attempt to move past their “collective failure” in previous initiatives, as discussed at the Ocean Conference in 2022. Citing a lack of ambition and sense of emergency in last year’s talks, the EU aims to improve its efforts in 2023, and believes the new funds will go far.
Political and business leaders, environmental activists and academics were gathered in Panama City for two days of talks on how best to deal with multiple threats facing the world's oceans – from climate change and pollution to overfishing and mining.
Topics on the Our Ocean agenda include expanding marine protected areas (MPAs), assuring a sustainable ocean-derived "blue economy," and reducing stressors on an invaluable but at-risk resource.
The conference also included calls to finalise protections for international waters, currently in negotiations at the United Nations, as well as to dedicate more resources and satellite technology to combat illegal fishing.