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Ocean sand: risks and opportunities for sustainability and equity

Date: Jun. 28 2022

Held during the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, this event convened a multi-stakeholder dialogue putting sand on the ocean sustainability agenda and identified promising scientific, technical and policy opportunities for sand stewardship. Panelists discussed the importance of sand in the ocean economy, the impacts of its extraction on ecosystems and coastal communities, the role of financial institutions in incentivising better practices, as well as promising breakthroughs in monitoring and impact assessments. The event paid particular attention to the equity dimension of ocean and marine sand and strive to foster international partnerships for better sand resource governance.

Co-organisers of the event include: The United Nations Environment Program the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm university, the United Nations Environment Program’s Finance Initiative and UN Global Compact.

Panelists in this dialogue are:

  • Jean-Baptiste Jouffray is a researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University where he focuses on the interlinked social, economic and ecological challenges that shape the new global ocean context – exploring what the Anthropocene means for the ocean, what it entails for how we study marine social-ecological systems and, essentially, what can be done to improve sustainability. He is also involved in the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, a multi-sector collaboration between governments, financial institutions, the insurance industry, environmental organisations and stakeholders from the Global South.
  • Humay Abdulghafoor is an independent research consultant, environmental defender, and women’s rights activist from the Maldives, one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate-change. She is part of the citizen-led movement #SaveMaldives Campaign and is currently taking legal action against the government of Maldives to stop the development of a harbour on Gulhifalhu reef and lagoon. The project is expected to be the most sand-use intensive and largest reclamation initiative in the Maldives' history.
  • Dennis Fritsch leads the United Nations’ Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative, part of UNEP FI, focused on bringing banks, insurers, and investors together to develop guidance and tools to enable financial institutions to align their activities with a sustainable ocean economy. This includes their namely recently published guidance on marine aggregates extraction.
  • Mark Russell is the Executive Director of the Mineral Products Association (MPA), the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries in Great Britain. Alongside responsibility for planning and mineral resource issues, Mark is also Director of the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA), the representative body for the UK marine aggregate sector.
  • Arnaud Vander Velpen is the sand industry & data analytics officer in UNEP/GRID-Geneva’s Global Sand Observatory Initiative. He leads on the identification of sustainable initiatives and alternatives for sand from the circular economy, stimulating sustainable use and developing a global monitoring and information system for sand flows.
  • Leon Dulce is the current national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, a national grassroots-led environmental campaign center monitoring through community-led engagements the impacts of land reclamation and sand dredging projects.

The webinar is available for re-watch here: 

Please also find the sneak peek of Global Sand Watch. A platform currently being developed by UNEP/GRID-Geneva, Global Fishing Watch, Emlab of UC Santa Barbara and Google to help developing countries monitor marine sand extraction and help industry improve the standard of dredging activities across the globe:

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