COP21: Meeting with the first French ambassador of the Oceans

© F.Aurat/Tara Expéditions

Last month, diplomat Serge Ségura became the first French ambassador of the Oceans. A few weeks before the inauguration of the COP21, he explains the prerogatives of his new functions, as well as the role of the Oceans, and of Tara Expéditions, in the international negotiations.

You are the first French ambassador of the oceans. Why create such a position?

At the Quai d’Orsay, international maritime issues are handled by different departments: geography, legal affairs, globalization, environment, etc. In fact, we were lacking an overall perspective, strongly needed in a world where international negotiations are just beginning to talk about the oceans. The oceans play a major role in our lives, and  from an economic and geopolitical point of view, their resources are essential.

In practical terms, what will be your role?

I will help the Quai d’Orsay understand the interests of maritime stakeholders (fishermen, scientists, environmentalists, sales representatives, etc.) in various departments and develop diplomacy adapted to our national interests. As an ambassador, I am entitled to make decisions and issue instructions to our 170 embassies that regularly deal with maritime issues. I also represent French maritime stakeholders during international negotiations. France has a very strong maritime vocation and I am therefore really proud of this function. The sea has been a passion for me since childhood. Being able to continue my career dealing with such themes is a true gift. And I intend to succeed.

According to you, what is Tara’s contribution to the COP21 in Paris?

Everything surrounding the negotiations is important, particularly the wide variety of initiatives coming from civil society, such as Tara. The events and actions organized during the COP21 are intended to raise awareness on the part of the participating States about the dramatic consequences of climate change, and to inform and educate the general public.

The COP21 is essential, and I hope on December 12 when the negotiations are over, we’ll all wake up with a feeling of success. But a reality check will be needed in the days, months and years to come. Tara’s presence in Paris, with guided tours organized for schools, will impact children and their parents. It’s also important that the official participants in the COP21 clearly see Tara’s presence, so that Tara will be recognized on the international stage as a leading stakeholder of civil society, beyond the scientific realm. This means more than media exposure. It’s a question of presenting oneself as a true player who will continue to be effective in the years to come. The role of the French authorities will be to show their confidence in Tara’s work and to make clear the  connection that exists between the French government’s positions on climate change, what must be done concerning the oceans, and Tara’s views. For the opening of the Tara “Ocean & Climate” Pavilion on November 12 at least one minister will be present, and I myself plan to attend Tara’s activities on a regular basis.

Interview by Clemence Lesacq