The European Union and its private sector will commit about 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) to better protect marine life during the global Our Ocean conference this week.

EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella told the Associated Press that figure from the EU, its 28 member states and the private sector could be a conservative estimate, saying "it might be even a bit over."

The Our Ocean conference has turned into an annual marine governance event and has accumulated some 8.7 billion euros ($10.2 billion) since it started in 2014. Vella said "we are keeping up the pace with the previous three conferences."

Vella is also looking for donations from the United States. Many private companies contribute to the 2-day event, which starts Thursday in Malta.