About the High Seas Initiative

The Aspen High Seas Initiative is a dynamic, interdisciplinary program that brings the ocean community and world leaders together to sustainably manage and protect the high seas, our greatest and most neglected global commons. Nations’ exclusive jurisdiction over their maritime areas ends 200 nautical miles from shore in most cases, leaving activity in nearly two-thirds of the ocean—43 percent of the earth’s surface—largely without adequate oversight. This poses significant immediate and long-term risks to the wellbeing of humanity and all life on Earth.

We are faced with an urgent need and compelling opportunity to manage marine resources and wildlife more sustainably, account for environmental impacts, and address the risks and opportunities associated with emerging activities, such as seabed mining and development of marine biotechnology, in a manner that is environmentally safe, cautious, and equitable.

The Aspen High Seas Initiative collaborates with partners across disciplines and sectors to inspire key decision makers to better manage and protect what the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea calls “the common heritage of humankind,” including by seeking achievement of the targets in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.

Our focus areas include:

  • International action to protect and restore global high seas ecosystem health, including a new international treaty to protect biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, a strong regulatory framework for deep sea mining, and ocean protection as a core element of global climate action;
  • Protecting 30 percent of our global ocean by 2030, including strong protection of significant portions of the high seas as an essential contribution to achieving that goal;
  • Harnessing technology for exploration and marine surveillance;
  • Elevating awareness of the ocean issues, including marine ecosystems’ vital role in climate and other natural cycles that sustain life on Earth; and
  • Educating and engaging youth to become future leaders working on behalf of our global ocean.

Our strategy is to leverage the convening power of the Initiative’s prominent leadership team and the Aspen Institute to foster groundbreaking collaborative high seas science and technology and work with global decision makers to design and implement actions to protect and better manage the high seas, the vast blue heart of our planet.