Nearly two months after retiring as the chairman of Tata Group, Ratan Tata is taking up a new role by joining hands with global leaders, including former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, to launch the Global Ocean Commission (GOC).
The GOC brings together eminent people from different parts of the world for a new initiative to restore health and productivity to the ocean.
It is an independent body of international leaders and aim to reverse degradation of the ocean and restoring it to full health and productivity, GOC said in a statement.
"During 2013-14, the Commission will analyse key threats to the international waters known as the 'high seas', which make up almost half of the Earth's surface but are not owned by any one country," it said.
This large proportion of the global ocean is under severe and increasing pressure from overfishing, damage to important habitat, climate change and ocean acidification, the statement added.
The Commission will publish its final recommendations early in 2014, shortly before the UN General Assembly begins discussions on protecting high seas biodiversity, it said.
Chaired by former Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres, South African cabinet minister Trevor Manuel and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP, the Commission brings together senior political figures, including former Heads of State, Foreign Ministers and Finance Ministers from around the world, alongside business leaders and development specialists.
Apart from Tata, the other members of GOC include former Australian Environment and Defence Minister Robert Hill, currently Chancellor of the University of Adelaide; World Bank managing director Mulyani Indrawati, former Japanese Foreign and Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, ex-Spanish Environment Minister Cristina Narbona among others.
Commenting on the need for ocean protection, Jose Maria Figueres said: "The world urgently needs to find better ways of managing the oceans, to stop abuse of its precious resources and ensure its protection for present and future generations... The Global Ocean Commission will help highlight its worth in our lives and indicate ways in which we can ensure its resources are used sustainably."
According to the GOC, advances in technology and industry have outpaced the provisions of the 30-year-old United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
There is little protection for biodiversity in the high seas, little regulation of emerging uses of the ocean such as bio- prospecting, and ineffective measures to deal with illegal fishing - threatening food security, human rights, national security and livelihoods, it added.
"The UN Law of the Sea was a great achievement, but we urgently need a governance framework that delivers its aims and objectives for today's global ocean. The Global Ocean Commission will be a catalyst for the developments we need. 2014 is a critical year of decision for the ocean, when changes should be made that will set the ocean on the path to sustainable health and productivity," said David Miliband.
The launch of the Global Ocean Commission comes at a time when many governments, economists, scientists, business leaders and international institutions are indicating the need for reform.