A group of private and public funders that includes the Gordon and Betty Moore, Packard, Walton Family, and Waitt foundations; the blue moon fund; the Wildlife Conservation Society; and the Global Environment Facility have announced commitments totaling more than $1 billion in support of ocean science, conservation, and management.
The commitments were announced last week at the U.S. State Department's third annual Our Ocean Conference, at which more than twenty governments announced forty new marine protected areas (MPAs) totaling nearly 460,000 square miles, as well as a number of public-private partnerships in support of conservation-science expeditions, sustainable management of ocean reserves and fisheries, and efforts to reduce marine pollution, monitor commercial fishing, and track the impact of climate change on the planet's oceans.
The Packard Foundation's commitment of $550 million over five years — made under a new grantmaking framework in its Ocean program — includes $40 million in annual grantmaking and an estimated $350 million in ongoing support of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Walton Family Foundation's five-year, $250 million commitment will support ocean conservation and sustainable fisheries in Indonesia and the United States, Mexico, Chile, and Peru — in part through rights-based fisheries management, protection of MPAs, and capacity building — as well as restoration of wetlands, barrier islands, and other Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, while the Moore Foundation plans to contribute more than $220 million over the next five years in support of ocean research and ocean-related conservation through its Marine Conservation, Marine Microbiology, Oceans and Seafood Markets, and Wild Salmon Ecosystems initiatives.
Also at the conference, the Wildlife Conversation Society, the Waitt Foundation, and the blue moon fund announced commitments of at least $15 million to WCS' MPA Fund, which will use the money to support efforts to create or expand MPAs in countries where WCS works, while GEF will commit $33 million to projects designed to expand or improve the effectiveness of MPAs in line with countries' commitments to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity targets.
In addition, Marc and Lynne Benioff pledged $10 million to the University of California, Santa Barbara to establish the Benioff Ocean Initiative, which will research the root causes of pervasive ocean problems and use science to help solve them. "We cannot stand by and watch our oceans become increasingly sickened and fisheries decimated," said Marc Benioff. "Just as we have research hospitals seeking cures for devastating illnesses, we need a hospital to heal our oceans. We can bring the brightest minds in marine science and our communities together and empower them to bring our oceans back to health."