3 Innovations Leading the Fight to Save Our Ocean
By Kaya Bulbul
The ocean is our lifeline - we rely on it for the food we eat, the air we breathe, as well as for millions for jobs worldwide.
As we continue to grapple with the issues of overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change, there exists an opportunity to address these existential threats with new innovations, many of which unidentified or insufficiently supported.
UpLink is a response to this demand; a new digital platform to surface the best ideas and solutions for pressing issues and connect them to the world's decision makers.
The UpLink platform brings together key stakeholders who are championing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): change-makers, social innovators, thematic experts, investors and technology titans.
The UpLink platform was launched with the Ocean Solutions Sprint, which has sourced over 50 entrepreneurial solutions from more than 15 countries which respond to the most pressing challenges facing the ocean today and speed up progress being made towards SDG-14: Life Below Water.
The sprint culminated at the World Economic Forum's Virtual Ocean Dialogues, where six finalists presented their ideas to a panel of experts and judges from across the industry.
"We need to get these problems in front of more people so they can pool together their intellect and their heart and add it to this explosive renaissance of ocean problem solving," said Douglas McCauley, Director of the Benioff Ocean Initiative and one of the sprint panelists.
"We know that just as diversity in a natural system like a coral reef makes it more resilient, more powerful, it makes our problem solving more powerful. I'm excited to have an open platform in UpLink, without any barriers for people to put that diversity together for ocean problem solving."
The three winning innovations helping to save our ocean are:
Cubex Global (Ocean Innovation Award)
Cubex aims to reduce global shipping emissions by buying and selling unused container space on existing cargo ship routes.
Over 100 million shipping containers are 50% empty while traveling from port to port - a massively wasteful practice that produces 280 million tons of carbon emissions and costs $25 billion USD every year.
While many traditional companies use phones, fax and email to fill up their containers, Cubex uses a real-time, blockchain-enabled online marketplace which optimizes empty cargo space and can potentially reduce emissions from shipping vessels by up to 20%. Anyone using the platform can buy or sell cubic meters of space on any container going to any destination.
Recyglo (Action on Ocean Plastic Award)
Founded in Myanmar in 2017, Recyglo works closely with businesses in the country and surrounding areas on waste management requirements, connecting with logistics and recycling facilities around the world to process waste materials in a safe, non-hazardous manner.
With 8 of the 10 rivers with the most plastic pollution in the world located in Asia, a solution to this problem is desperately needed in the region.
"The current waste management in Myanmar is fragmented, inefficient and problematic," co-founder and CEO Shwe Yamin Oo has said. As well as helping companies organize their recycling habits and disposing of their waste, Recyglo also provides data analytics on the amounts of waste recycled and the impact on carbon footprint.
The company is currently managing 500 tons of waste and saving 1470 tons of CO2 every month, and has educated 800,000 people on the merits of proper recycling.
Oceanium (People's Choice Award)
Oceanium is developing food products and packaging material made from sustainably farmed seaweed.
What sounds like a simple solution to solving ocean plastic pollution has a raft of environmental benefits. Seaweed farming does not require cleared land which means that deforestation is not necessary. It also sequesters carbon dioxide and nitrogen from the ocean, which reduces atmospheric carbon and ocean acidification, and requires no fertilizer or pesticide to grow.
Meanwhile, seaweed farms protect the seabed from commercial fishing and create a marine sanctuary for sea life. The company hopes its bio-packaging will replace harmful plastic products. For every ton of plastic replaced by bio-packaging, approximately 1.9 tons of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere.
Oceanium also believes that seaweed farming could create jobs in coastal communities and developing countries, and could be used to feed livestock and help to end global food insecurity.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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