*Available free at Tara’s “Ocean and Climate” Pavillon, from November 13
At the dawn of this new century, nearly seventy years after the United Nations was founded, where is the humanitarian vision that inspired the world’s leaders in the postwar years?
Undeniably the last fifteen years have been dominated by the digital revolution and Asia’s rise to take centre stage in world politics. These events have changed our view of the world and place the short, medium and long-term reflections of our leaders at the mercy of the rolling news agenda. Inequalities of every kind, widening on a daily basis from one continent to the next, encourage segregation and the development of a diverging world.
And yet science, not to mention common sense, teaches us that climate change and population growth, which we are already experiencing, concern us all whether we live in developed or developing countries. Such challenges require a comprehensive and concerted response from the international community.
Given the current situation it might seem inappropriate, even ridiculous, and the preserve of a handful of impassioned idealists to be worrying about the ocean. Well, perhaps this ocean, this vast expanse which connects mankind and covers three quarters of our planet, could be a source of inspiration for us. After all, freedom and the common good, ideas shared by all peoples, were undoubtedly the inspiration that in 1982 gave rise to one of the most ambitious treaties ever signed: the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
I believe that, despite our diverse interests, the ocean can reunite us once again through not only its symbolic value but also its vastness.
It is blindingly obvious that, by size alone, the ocean plays a key role in creating the conditions necessary for life on Earth, such as the air we breathe and the proteins that nourish us—and it’s even central to our global economy. Once we accept that taking care of one’s health means preventing the ills that threaten us all, it is natural for an organization like Tara Expeditions, a United Nations advisory body, to applaud the start of negotiations for an agreement which will, it is hoped, afford legal status to international waters, the “high seas”.
While scientists have already identified many of the stresses we inflict directly on the ocean (over-fishing, pollution of all types, concreting of our coastlines), which our societies continue to fail to address in a meaningful way, we are now beginning to appreciate the indirect and more insidious impact of our actions. The deoxygenation, warming and acidification of our universal ocean require more research, innovation and commitment. Without doubt the recent scientific works undertaken during the Tara Oceans expedition will, alongside other works, help us forecast with improved precision the future of the ocean—which is also our own future—and illustrate to a greater degree the challenges we must overcome, together.
The Tara and all those who support her expeditions can be hopeful that the health of this possession of capital importance to mankind becomes a common project which overcomes historical divisions. A project for the twenty-first century! The challenge of the century stands before us, and it requires a collective response. Join us, then, aboard the Tara!
By Romain Troublé, Secretary General of Tara Expéditions