Nishan Degnarain told us about his latest developments in person recently, as he passed through Zurich after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It has been a while since we recognised Nishan as a UBS Global Visionary for his work protecting the oceans – so he gave us an update on his progress since joining our program.
What's the big news from Davos?
"We're pleased to announce a new special initiative on the Oceans that the WEF will be hosting. It's called Friends of Ocean Action, and it was launched by the prime minister of Norway, [Erna Solberg], the deputy prime minister of Sweden [Isabella Lövin], [billionaire philanthropist] Mark Benioff from [cloud computing company] Salesforce, as well as the UN special envoy on the ocean, Peter Thomson. So this was kicked off with a $4.5m gift from Mark Benioff and it's looking to create a global movement on oceans for the next three years."
What will Friends of Ocean Action do exactly?
The big challenge on the oceans right now is there are so many complex issues – plastics, illegal fishing, industrial waste and climate change. We need a coherent narrative on what action can be taken. In the same way as in the 1980s, we had action around the ozone layer on the CFCs and the Montreal agreement; or in Paris, we had the Paris agreement on climate change – how do we have a coherent action plan for our oceans? So that's the vision of this initiative.
And what have you been up to lately?
We moved to San Francisco, where I've been focusing a lot more on building partnerships with technology companies who can transform our oceans; I've had a new book released, Soul of the Sea In The Age of the Algorithm, that talks about some of the new technologies for the oceans; and we've had a major new ocean summit hosted at the UN in June, at which we made some big announcements and I helped broker a major UN declaration to stop illegal fishing of tuna. So it's been a very busy 2017!