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U.S. Ocean Innovation to Take World Stage at COP28

Leaders from governments, businesses, NGOs, and civil society have gathered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for COP28, the 28th Conference of Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in hopes of making history by accelerating climate action. As President Biden stated, “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity” and demands not only our immediate attention but our urgent and collective action. While each nation faces unique environmental, economic and societal impacts, collectively, we can agree that the global ocean faces great threats from climate change. We also agree that the ocean provides solutions that can help the world achieve its climate mitigation and adaptation goals.

Our oceans not only connect most nations but also support our planet’s most vital functions and ecosystems and power one of the largest sectors of the global economy. The interwoven industries of maritime shipping, offshore energy, fishing and recreation all form the “Blue Economy”—a $373 billion sector that employs 2.3 million Americans. Building upon the traditional Blue Economy, a new age in ocean technology, sustainability, and logistics also necessitates a “New Blue Economy” founded on the improved collection, analysis, and dissemination of ocean and coastal-derived data and information to support economic growth, protect the ocean’s health, and address societal challenges and inspire their solutions, while ensuring social equity. The New Blue Economy is underpinned by scientists, entrepreneurs, and local decision-makers who work together to help vulnerable coastal communities adapt to extreme weather events and build resilience for future climate impacts.

The United States is home to one of the largest Blue Economies in the world, and the innovative products and solutions made by U.S. businesses, large and small, are increasingly in demand in the international marketplace. The bureaus that we represent—the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—are distinct in their missions but share the Biden-Harris Administration and Department of Commerce’s commitments to coupling environmental sustainability with economic growth, and to partnering with the U.S. private sector to combat climate change. Of all the areas in which ITA’s and NOAA’s work overlap, none is as crucial as the Blue Economy and New Blue Economy—the industries, jobs and economic growth that rely on and protect our precious ocean and Great Lakes, rivers and wetland resources.

If you work in the blue technology sector, the U.S. Commerce Department is your partner to get your idea off the ground and into the international marketplace. Specifically:

  • Innovative and sustainable solutions are needed to respond to the climate crisis. Tools and practices from the New Blue Economy and Climate Economy can help everyone make more well-informed adaptation decisions. NOAA scientists provide critical climate, weather, environment, and ocean data products and services, as well as valuable forecasts and predictions that can inform the research and development of innovative solutions and guide decision-making for individuals and organizations impacted by our changing planet.
  • NOAA also hosts grant programs and technology proving ground funds, including the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to fund new concepts. We are also collaborating with our sister agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to better utilize and promote intellectual property protection as a tool for accelerating climate innovation. 
  • Once you’ve got your idea, ITA trade experts are here to help you take it to markets around the globe. We are a team of 2,300 experts in trade promotion, commercial diplomacy, advocacy, analysis and enforcement – we’re located across 100 U.S. cities and in 80 international locations to help companies explore new markets, find buyers and sellers, and navigate foreign trade environments and barriers.

We invite you to learn more about the important work that NOAA, ITA, and private sector innovators do to advance ocean-related climate resilience, and the ways that public-private partnerships can boost resilience and adaptation objectives, at a live panel at COP28 on December 8 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Dubai time, 3:30 a.m. ET) entitled “Ocean Innovation to Support Climate Adaptation and Resilience.” We will be joined by large and small U.S. businesses with ocean technologies that support climate resilience, including IBM, Vesta, Blue Ocean Gear, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the host of COP28’s Ocean Pavilion.

To learn more about COP28, we invite you to follow the U.S. Center at COP, which will livestream and record dozens of events on topics that showcase U.S. climate leadership across industry sectors. Another hub of events and activities is the Ocean Pavilion, co-sponsored by NOAA, which will host other events tied to the Blue Economy.

Marisa Lago is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and leads the International Trade Administration. 

Dr. Richard Spinrad is the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.