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SOCAP Recap: Ocean Innovation at SOCAP13

Earlier this month nearly 2,000 impact investors, social entrepreneurs, funders and change agents gathered at the edge of San Francisco for the 2013 SOCAP. What was particularly exciting this year were the hundreds of voices amplifying and exchanging ideas around ocean themes in this forum for the ver

y first time. This was SOCAP’s first foray into themed tracks such as Oceans and Health. As a sponsor of SOCAP Ocean’s Track and a long standing ocean funder, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation was proud to help bring nearly 100 panelists and moderators to San Francisco to curate a set of conversations on designing solutions for restoring or enhancing ocean health.

Why are these conversations so critical? Oceans make up 70 percent of our planet. Our marine systems are as important to our health and well-being as clean air and freshwater. Yet, we know more about outer space than we do about the iconic blue space that defines planet earth. While we have experienced centuries of ocean industrial and recreational uses, marine science is assumed to roughly date back to 700-1000 AD , and marine conservation is one of the most recent environmental fields emerging only in the last few decades with national governments only establishing national water boundaries—known as Exclusive Economic Zones(EEZs)—in the 1970s.

In 2013, conversations on ocean innovation for social and environmental enterprise are just beginning and SOCAP has put these at the forefront. We had a range of innovative discussions: connecting OpenROV technology to citizen environmental science and online fundraising; shifting our mindset from a demand-based ocean economy to a supply-based economy where we plan around and respect what the ocean can supply;  promoting full integration of sustainable models of harvesting, handling, processing, marketing, pricing platforms, and shipment into a single systems approach;  and, considering what happens before and after fish catch to account for communities and social resilience. These were just a sampling of the discussions taking place across the Oceans Track.

The biggest innovation was the fresh exchange of ideas at SOCAP that drew traditional ocean veterans and champions alongside journalists, entrepreneurs, and impact investors from other sectors including small scale agriculture, health, and poverty alleviation—all of which are connected to ocean and coastal issues.

I would like to thank everyone at this year’s SOCAP who showed up for a panel, breakfast meet up, oceans dinner or informal conversation with a marine advocate.

Oceans are 70 percent of the planet and we are far from 100 percent solutions. Please keep bringing your voice, your ideas and your experiences to ocean issues. The health of our blue planet is counting on your contributions.

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