Estimated duration
1 year
Estimated total value
Northern America
Michael Dorsey; Global Partnerships Forum; The TerraMar Project

Sustainable Oceans Alliance: Impacting the SGDs


In 2013, the Sustainable Oceans Alliance (SOA) committed to mobilize the international community and the public at large on the importance of the Oceans and the Seas and to ensure that the 193 Member States of the United Nations recognize and incorporate oceans in the Sustainable Development Goals, to be adopted in 2015. This two pronged approach will mobilize Member States of the United Nations to include Oceans in the SDGs and the global campaign will engage citizens around the world to have a say in the effective and efficient management, and preservation of oceans and seas. By including Oceans and Seas in the SDGs, governments will be able to develop national plans and strategies for the protection of the oceans. One of the overarching goals of the Alliance is to build a coalition of the broad range of actors in this field and provide a unified voice to bring about more cohesion in the balance between humans and marine life.


The Sustainable Oceans Alliance (SOA) and the TerraMar Project (TM) are committed to ensuring that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals protect the world’s oceans and seas and secure the development of those people whose food, jobs, and culture rely on their vitality.
The organizations have identified three pathways to implementation: diplomacy, academia, and public relations. Experts will spearhead the effort along each pathway.
H.E. Ambassador Stuart Beck will lead the diplomatic pathway. Ambassador Beck was Palau’s Ambassador to the United Nations for the past ten years and is the organization’s Chairman. He led successful UN initiatives to end bottom trawling, stop shark finning, make global fisheries more equitable, and reframe climate change as an existential issue of international peace, security, and justice. In the past several months, Ambassador Beck has begun lobbying for an oceans and seas UN. Joining him in these efforts are Mr. Amir Dossal, Founder and Chairman of the Global Partnership Forum, creator of the UN Democracy Fund, and formerly the UN’s chief liaison for partnerships; and Mr. Paolo Zampolli, Ambassador and Special Representative for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Business of Grenada.
Leading the academic pathway is Professor Michael Dorsey, SOA’s Senior Advisor. A visiting Professor of Environmental Studies in the College of Environment at Wesleyan College, Professor Dorsey has decades of academic and public policy experience in the sustainability field. Professor Dorsey has at different times served as task force member of President William Jefferson Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development; a past Director on the Sierra Club’s national board; and a member of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Advisory Committee.
Leading the public facing side is Ms. Ghislaine Maxwell, TM’s founder and director. TM is building the first global, sustainable community around oceans and the global commons; the 45 percent of the ocean that lies outside of any single country’s jurisdiction. Through a digital social media platform that includes a daily newspaper, online educational resources, and other tools, TM connects and engages the public with the ocean and surrounding environmental issues. TM is also creating a pledge for individuals and communities concerned about oceans to send to the UN. This pledge expresses the desire for oceans to be managed sustainably. This ocean platform is unique in its breadth, reach, and aim for creating a standing and permanent ‘citizenship’ of the ocean.
The Sustainable Oceans Alliance has targeted a number of inflection points to influence the UN process of incorporating the Sustainable development goals: Regional and interregional island meetings will produce official outcome documents that will form the basis of international negotiations. Events and deliverables include:
– 44th Pacific Islands Forum & Related Meetings, Majuro, Marshall Islands (3-6 September 2013): SOA will encourage a focus on oceans in the SDGs
– UN General Assembly, General Debate, New York, (24-30 September 2013): Meeting of high-level government officials. Here the Sustainable Oceans Alliance will have opportunity to gain early support.
– UN SDG Working Group meeting on Oceans, New York, (February 2014): This is the planned official SOA launch, where there will be expert side events for diplomats, reception for high-level officials, public online campaign; opportunity to announce support and gain further commitments
– World Oceans Day, (June 8, 2014 and 2015): Good opportunity for media awareness and campaign events
– 3rd Global Small Island Developing States Conference, Apia, Samoa (September 2014): There will be a partnership with the government of Samoa to raise the profile of oceans-related development issues among the conference’s 193 countries, NGO, and civil society participants
– UN SDG Working Group Outcome (September 2014): Document will be secured
-UN Post-2015 Development Summit (September 2015): The SOA will help to secure oceans in the UN Post-2015 Development Summit
Furthermore, the TerraMar Project (TM) will utilize its social outreach to help create a social swell and movement around the SDG’s. TM is engaging with fashion (creating a fashion line launching Sept 2013) and engaging with commerce (a cosmetics line to be announced Sept 2013) around ocean issues to expand its outreach. TM is also planning a media campaign in which videos and marketing will be ongoing for next 15 months. A new website for TM will be released in Sept 2013 incorporating the UN pledge.


This is a historic moment. In September 2015, the United Nations will launch the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): an ambitious new program to make our planet more sustainable. Like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of 2000, the SDGs will drive lasting, transformative change by mobilizing global stakeholders and tens of billions of dollars towards addressing the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.
Oceans and seas cover two thirds of the world’s surface and connect 90 percent of its population. A billion people are dependent on its fish. Oceans and seas are the very lifeblood of island and coastal communities and are intrinsic to their cultures, societies, and economies. There cannot be sustainable development without sustainable oceans and seas. Yet they were absent from the MDGs.
The creation of the SDGs is a critical opportunity to put healthy oceans and seas at the center of the global development agenda for generations to come, and to mobilize the resources needed to achieve healthy, productive oceans on the same scale as the MDGs.
The Sustainable Oceans Alliance and the TerraMar Project aim to unify oceans champions from across the stakeholder spectrum to ensure that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals protect the world’s oceans and seas and secure the development of those people whose food, jobs, and culture rely on their vitality

Progress Update

March 2015

The ocean has been proposed as sustainable development goal 14 at the UN and is to be voted on this September.

Partnership Opportunities

The Sustainable Oceans Alliance and The TerraMar Project seek, first and foremost, partners who desire a healthier, more sustainable ocean for future generations. This includes governments, NGOs, foundations, and private citizens committed to oceans and development. The organization also seeks financial resources, implementing partners, and advisors with best practices information.
The Sustainable Oceans Alliance, through its worldwide reach, will provide governments, business, and civil society with a unique global platform to develop innovative partnerships, in the fields of biodiversity, energy, environment, food security, marine life and ecosystem waste management, and other related programs. The Alliance will use its media assets to showcase best practice and lessons learned, to encourage replication and new partnerships. The Global Partnerships Forum aims to develop an online platform for innovative collaboration, and new investment opportunities for the oceans and the seas. The GPF will also create an app to enable individual citizens to ‘sign-up’ for an Oceans Charter, and use the online platform to support protection of the oceans, and also monitor progress at the national, regional and global levels. The general public will also be able to sign a pledge that says that they would like to the ocean to be sustainable that will be delivered to the UN prior to the vote.

NOTE: This Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action is made, implemented, and tracked by the partners listed. CGI is a program dedicated forging new partnerships, providing technical support, and elevating compelling models with potential to scale. CGI does not directly fund or implement these projects.