The World Ocean Summit, organized by The Economist, is a high-level conference focused on global ocean sustainability. Featured speakers at the 2014 summit included the likes of John Kerry, Leon Panetta, and Prince Albert II of Monaco. This three-day conference also included opening remarks from Julie Packard, trustee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Why do we care what Julie Packard had to say? Because she's the member of the Packard family most deeply involved in ocean sustainability issues and because, despite its image as a long established professional grantmaking operation, the Packard Foundation, in its current large scale, remains a relatively young outfit with a board still controlled by family members. It's also a major player on marine conservation issues (see IP’s profile). So when Julie Packard shares big thoughts in this area, it's worth paying attention.
The first World Ocean Summit was held in 2012, bringing together over 200 global leaders from a variety of sectors, to examine how industrialization was affecting the global ocean. The second Summit, held in February 2014, focused on how governance and sustainability were intertwined. As would be expected in the Economist, the economics of policy problems and solutions from business were prominent on the agenda.
Julie Packard believes business must be closely involved in creating a sustainable ocean. Her opening remarks focused on the work of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and the way it alters consumer decisions. (Julie Packard has been executive director of the Aquarium since it opened in 1984, and the organization receives much of its annual funding from Packard). She also discussed the Packard Foundation's involvement in the Marine Stewardship Council which focuses on how fish are caught, marketed, and purchased. Perhaps most strikingly, Julie Packard said, “Today, more than ever, business needs to drive the solutions, through new approaches and commitments that will ensure economic prosperity in a world of declining resources.” Her talk ended in an appeal to industry, saying that business leaders not only had a “compelling opportunity,” but also “an imperative” to lead sustainability efforts.
As Packard pointed out, the foundation is no stranger to supporting projects that bring conservation and business together. The foundation has long emphasized the importance of conservation that also promotes healthy livelihoods and sustainable communities. However, Packard’s straightforward comments regarding the importance of business-centered solutions are notable. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Packard bring greater focus to economic and industry focused solutions going into the future.