Shifting the global conversation to the tropical majority 

The World Economic Forum published an article leading up to COP28 based on a scientific paper published in the Journal Nature in July 2023 by Ana Spalding and Oregon State University associate professor Kristin Grorud-Colvert with marine scientists and ocean policy experts from around the global tropics, including the World Economic Forum’s Hoffmann fellow Josheena Naggea and Acting Head of Ocean Alfredo Giron. 

Both articles highlight how most science and funding for ocean conservation still originates in high-income countries in temperate zones, overlooking the expertise and needs of the people in tropical regions. 

As COP28 begins, the World Economic Forum (WEF) reminds us of the urgency for the tropical majority to be at the center of discussions for effective ocean solutions.

In ‘Why the tropical majority is key to creating effective ocean solutions at COP28, and beyond’, the WEF indicates that one of the main subjects of discussion during the COP28 will be ocean solutions for climate change. But at the same time, those more affected by climate change, such as small coastal communities in tropical regions, are often underrepresented in these important discussions.

The WEF article echoes four key actions, presented in the Nature paper, to achieve tangible solutions for ocean conservation: 1. Centering equity in ocean governance, 2. Reconnecting people and the ocean, 3. Redefining ocean literacy, and 4. Decolonizing ocean science.

The WEF is an international organization for public-private cooperation, and collaborates with the Adrienne Arsht Community-Based Resilience Solutions Initiative, a multi-year Smithsonian-wide effort that supports community-based solutions to the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and social justice issues.

Ana Spalding, founding director of the Adrienne Arsht Community-Based Resilience Solutions Initiative, will dive deeper into the importance of bringing the tropical majority into the discussions, during the ‘Empowering People and Nature: Supporting Resilient Solutions for Our Ocean’ session, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, at COP28’s Nature Positive Pavilion.

The event takes place on Tuesday, December 5h at 11:30-12:30 (Gulf Standard Time GMT +4) and can be livestreamed through the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism YouTube channel.

For more information on the Smithsonian Institution’s participation in COP28, visit