Changing Tides: Perspectives on The Rise of Entrepreneurship in Ocean and Coastal Sustainability

Stephanie Sharuga, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Sterling, VA, United States
With each new generation comes a newly-reinforced message that we need to start protecting our planet and protecting it now, that we need to do more to develop a sustainable future. The challenge is that protecting and conserving the natural world and its resources is complex, time-consuming, and often can require a lot of manpower and be costly. This is particularly the case for oceans and coastal areas that are often vast in size and heavily impacted by human activities, and for which there is a relative deficit of information. Compounded with this are the ever-changing perceptions of how and what is best for accomplishing the task of protecting our planet and resources. Some say we need more research, some say we need more action - the reality is that we need both, working hand-in-hand.

But what is the best avenue for achieving ocean and coastal environmental protection and restoration goals? Traditionally, much of the responsibility has fallen on academia, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs); however, in recent years industry has also played a greatly increasing role in working towards achieving sustainability as businesses aim to reduce their environmental and social impacts. Yet, not everyone who is interested in working towards a more sustainable world will be part of one of these "traditional" avenues. As more individuals get involved in increasing environmental awareness and facilitating environmental protection, another avenue has been growing in popularity in the realm of ocean and coastal sustainability: entrepreneurship. This presentation will discuss perspectives on each of the previously-mentioned "avenues", with particular emphasis placed on why entrepreneurship will likely become one of the most important ways that we achieve a more sustainable world.