Takeaways from COP27: multilateral approaches to addressing ocean acidification

Walking to the COP27 Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. (Claire Lee)

As a student pursuing a dual degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Political Science on the pre-law track at the University of Connecticut, I came into COP27 with great excitement to witness firsthand the collaborative bridging of knowledge that will facilitate climate solutions.

Paired with my love for the ocean and the beauty of its vast biodiversity, my academic path in ecology has primed me for the discussions at COP27 surrounding the detrimental impact of climate change on marine life. I strongly believe that the combined efforts of scientific and legislative expertise are imperative in not only achieving the UN’s net zero goals but other important environmental issues as well.

Discussing ocean ecology at COP27

Coral reefs are central to hosting thousands of important marine species that uphold our biosphere and providing a wide variety of crucial ecosystem services. Many serve as a pillar of income and benefit to the economy for nations that rely on these ecosystems for ecotourism.

However, these reefs are especially under threat by ocean acidification, caused by anthropogenic activities like the agricultural industry and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Ocean acidification is a ubiquitous and burgeoning problem that plagues our world’s oceans, and efficient action is needed immediately to mitigate its impact and spread. The multifaceted means by which we take action must be elevated as a priority, therefore I strongly believe in the vast potential of taking on an interdisciplinary approach toward addressing ocean acidification and its impacts on coastal communities and ecosystems.

I had the privilege and opportunity to attend a panel discussion called “OA Action Plans: Increasing ambition for climate action & transforming planning and response to climate-ocean change” at the Ocean Pavilion during my first day at COP27. This event was composed of government leaders and organizations from around the world who have been committing their efforts to the protection of coastal communities, livelihoods, and species from ocean acidification and other climate-related issues.

Three speakers stood out to me in particular: Ambassador Ilana Seid, the permanent representative to UN Palau, Arthur Tuda, Ph.D., the executive director of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, and Congressman Eduardo Murat from the General Congress of the United Mexican States.

Ambassador Seid discussed the significant strides taken by researchers from Stanford University and the University of Hawaii within the collaborative space of science in the protection of marine biodiversity. One innovation that I found to be especially interesting was the development of ocean antacid tablets to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification and thus help prevent food shortages for reliant coastal communities and during biological catastrophes.

Claire Lee, Planet Forward, 10 January 2023. Full article.

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