“Oceans Meeting” attracts delegations from 50 countries to Lisbon

A major meeting billed as being about innovation and the sustainability of the oceans is opening in English in Lisbon today.

It is notable for the number of ‘big hitters’ and entities on board.

Observador website cites delegations from 50 countries, including 38 minister and secretaries of state.

Prime minister António Costa will be among the speakers, which include the ministers of the Sea and Health (Ana Paula Vitorino and Adalberto Campos Ferreira) and the European Commissioner for Investigation, innovation and science, Carlos Moedas – former PSD minister in the government of Passos Coelho.

The good news for those suspecting heavy lobbying behind this kind of initiative – particularly as Portugal is closing in on its bid to extend its continental platform by 3.9 million square kms – is that the keynote speaker at the conference will be UNESCO climatologist and oceanographer Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, an expert attributed as having said:

“Our best friend, the Ocean, suffers in silence. The problem is hidden under the Ocean surface and remains invisible to people. It is therefore an obligation of ocean scientists to detect, understand, assess and predict the fate of the Ocean and to communicate this knowledge clearly and convincingly to the broad public and decision makers in order to ensure that the ‘Ocean and us’ have the future.”

It’s an attitude that may calm activists who have read the rest of the programme with trepidation.

Indeed, Observador claims that the initiative has been designed by Portugal to “mobilise the international community for the necessity of preservation of the oceans, involving politicians, scientists and businesses”.

Aside from the various delegations taking part will be representatives of international entities like UNESCO, the CPLP (community of Portuguese speaking countries), FAO, the United Nation’s agriculture and food commission, the International Maritime Organisation and the OECD.

The conference is going ahead in three venues: the Hotel Pestana Palace, the Champalimaud Center and Jerónimos Monastery.

The Pestana Palace has been in the news for other reasons this month: one of its long-term guests is reported to be Madonna, who has fallen in love with Portugal, is looking for property and, if latest reports are correct, has been having a lot of problems with Portuguese customs proving she is who she is in order to receive a FedEx package with her name on it.

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