Protecting our ocean: Make Change Happen podcast episode 1

Nearly three quarters of our planet is covered by water; the ocean is the earth’s essential life support system. But much of the ocean is under-regulated and over-exploited. IIED’s new podcast looks at international efforts to protect the ocean, support marine biodiversity and create sustainable fisheries.

Article, 23 August 2019

IIED’s new ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast provides in-depth coverage of key issues in sustainable development today, and how we will play our part to make change happen. In the first episode we look at the world’s ocean – and how to protect it.

The show features Essam Yassin Mohammed, who leads IIED’s action research on the blue economy, talking about sustainable fisheries, marine biodiversity and international efforts to improve regulation of the high seas. He is joined by Laura Kelly, director of IIED’s Shaping Sustainable Markets research group, who looks at how to engage investors in protecting marine systems.

The podcast, hosted by IIED's director of communications, Liz Carlile, is the first episode in a new series of digital audio recordings that will offer the opportunity to hear IIED researchers provide informal insights into key international challenges and their work to create positive change. A full transcript is below.

Mohammed, who formerly headed the Fisheries Promotion Unit for Eritrea’s Ministry of Fisheries, now works on environmental and development economics, with a particular focus on economic incentives for marine and coastal conservation. In the podcast, he recalls how his interest with fisheries began as a very young man, when he became fascinated with a fish called the orangeface butterflyfish that lives in the Red Sea. 

An orangeface butterflyfish

Kelly formerly led on inclusive and responsible business at the UK’s Department for International Development (DIFD). She has a particular interest in working with business and the private sector to respond to international development challenges.

The podcast is focused on current international efforts to protect the ocean and marine biodiversity. 

The high seas

Mohammed highlights the lack of governance of marine areas more than 200 miles from land, commonly called the high seas. Nearly two-thirds of the world's ocean lies in these areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

Mohammed says that, although they may seem remote, the high seas are vital for coastal communities in developing countries. He describes an accident in 1992, when a cargo of plastic toys washed overboard a container ship in the Pacific. Since then, little rubber ducks from the ship have been tracked around the globe, providing direct evidence of the close links between the high seas and coastal communities.

IIED worked with the National Oceanographic Center to examine the importance of ABNJ for fishers in developing countries, and is making the case that the high seas are the common heritage of all mankind and must be governed in a fair and sustainable way.

Mohammed also flags the importance of marine biodiversity and the international negotiations on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), which opened on 19 August 2019 at the United Nations in New York.

IIED believes it is vital for vulnerable communities to be heard and given an active role in protecting and managing our oceans.

Kelly highlights her interest in coastal reserves in developing countries – particularly the potential benefits of tourism. She discusses the potential of working of with ‘impact investors’ – people who want to use their investments to support positive social and environmental outcomes – to set up new marine protected areas in countries such as Mozambique, Kenya or in the Caribbean.


Head and shoulders photo of Essam Yassin Mohammed

Essam Yassin Mohammed is head of blue economy in IIED's Shaping Sustainable Markets research group. He is an expert on the economic valuation of environmental resources and the use of economic instruments for natural resource governance, and previously headed the Fisheries Promotion Unit for Eritrea’s Ministry of Fisheries.

Head and shoulders photo of Laura Kelly

Laura Kelly is director of IIED's Shaping Sustainable Markets research group. She is an expert in trade and agricultural markets, and previously led the inclusive and responsible business agenda in the Department for International Development. 

Head and shoulders photo of Liz Carlile

Liz Carlile (host) is director of the Communications Group at IIED. She is an expert in strategic marketing and communications, with a particular focus on research communications and policy influence, and has published on social learning and climate change communications.

How to listen and subscribe

The ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast will provide informal insights into IIED’s work to create positive change and make the complex issues we face more accessible to wider audiences. The title refers to IIED’s 2019-2024 strategy, which sets out how IIED plans to respond to the critical challenges of our time.

You can subscribe to the podcast on your favourite podcast app as follows:

The podcast is also available on IIED's YouTube channel.

You can follow the panellists on Twitter: @EYMohammed, @LauraKellyIIED and @LizCarlile. Follow the podcast on @IIED_Voices for all the latest updates.