By Peter Wells, IUCN CEM Young Professional.
On March 11th, the Blue Cradle Foundation convened an evening of eight speakers from government, academia, iwi, and the private sector to discuss the “Ocean of Opportunity” for the blue economy in Otautahi / Christchurch and New Zealand as a whole. We were fortunate to host an audience of 100 in-person for a vibrant discussion and announce our bid to bring the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC6) to Christchurch in 2026. The opportunity to convene 1000+ delegates worldwide is exciting for any local stakeholder but comes with responsibility. The challenge for New Zealand in this UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is clear: to shift NZ’s current protection of 0.4% of our EEZ to 30% by 2030, and as our panellists all agreed, the opportunity to this lies in working together as a team, infusing scientific, Te Ao Māori, economic, and policy lenses to protect and steward Aotearoa’s oceans for generations to come. One of the great fulcrums for this conversation (and supporting policy) could lie in IMPAC6. These are early days still, as we plan future research expeditions, filming, and educational outreach, but things are falling into place, and it looks like an exciting journey ahead. Links to the event recordings can be found here.
Mr Peter Wells is currently Project Volunteer at the Blue Cradle. He co-organized the event and moderated one of the panel discussions.