UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant partnered with the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and the UGA School of Law to host the Blue Carbon Law Symposium in May 2023 in Athens, Georgia. It was the first symposium in the U.S. where a cross-disciplinary audience was convened to address blue carbon topics, setting the stage for future partnerships and actions to promote blue carbon investment and conservation.

Around 140 guests attended the hybrid event, which brought together lawyers, scientists, researchers, policymakers, and community and business leaders to share knowledge and strategies for protecting and enhancing coastal blue carbon ecosystems in the U.S.

Blue carbon is the term for carbon captured by ocean and coastal ecosystems. Coastal habitats, including mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, capture and store atmospheric carbon but when degraded or destroyed, these ecosystems can emit carbon.

Preserving these habitats allows them to continue sequestering carbon while also providing a wealth of other benefits to coastal ecosystems and communities, including improving water quality, supporting healthy coastal fisheries, and protecting properties from floods and storms.

The symposium provided a space for legal and policy discussion of climate law and carbon markets. Researchers presented on the state of blue carbon science and community leaders highlighted the need for intentional and equitable engagement with stakeholders in the development blue carbon projects. Notable guest speakers included Jocelyn D’Ambrosio, Senior Counsel at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Sarah Kapnick, Chief Scientist at NOAA, who identified national initiatives in blue carbon research and investment.

A joint reception with the Georgia Climate Conference featured a special address by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, and an exhibit by Barbara Mann, an awardee of Georgia Sea Grant’s Artists, Writers and Scholars program whose artwork focuses on the marine carbon cycle.

Partners involved in the symposium hope to continue and expand the Southeast’s involvement in blue carbon projects and are exploring next steps and opportunities to reconvene for future events.

Primary funding for the symposium was provided by the National Sea Grant Law Center with additional sponsorships provided by Wicker and Brammell, LLC., First Horizon Bank, and The Nature Conservancy. Learn more at