Restoring health of oceans

Date: August 9, 2017

Source & Author: The Star Online

Partnership is one of the cornerstones for successfully implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This partnership brought Fiji and Sweden together as they co-presided over the Ocean Conference (United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14) held from June 5–9 in New York.

At the end of the Conference, a political declaration – a Call for Action – was adopted together with over 1,300 voluntary commitments on how to sustainably manage and use the ocean. The Call for Action is unique as it is coherently linked to the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. It affirms the inter-linkages and synergies among all the SDGs and their integrated and indivisible character.

The Ocean Conference and the Call for Action are significant milestones for the global community, particularly small island developing States whose livelihood depends on the health of the ocean. For example, the Pacific and its people share an inextricable natural and cultural relationship with the ocean, which is central to their well-being and survival.

The Call for Action therefore galvanizes the global community to create meaningful ocean initiatives that will undergird the implementation of SDG 14 and its related targets. These include ocean-related awareness and education; knowledge hubs and networks to share data, best practices and know-how; scientific research, including ocean and coastal observation, and the collection and sharing of data and knowledge, including traditional knowledge; decision-making based on the best available science; reduction of marine pollution, including through the use of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) and reduction of the use of plastics and micro-plastics; area-based management tools such as marine protected areas and other approaches; adaptation and mitigation measures to support resilience to climate change impacts; sustainable fisheries management, ending destructive fishing practices and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and assisting small-scale and artisanal fishers; and ocean-based economies as an integrated component of sustainable development.

Another significant momentum generated by the Call for Action are negotiations on ending harmful fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organisation.

Eliminating the financial incentive provided to large-scale fishing fleets to over-exploit marine resources will reignite discussions on fisheries subsidies and spur renewed mobilisation throughout the global community.

A further initiative are discussions on the development of an international legally-binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction or BBNJ. As noted during the Ocean Conference, BBNJ has the potential to be the Paris Agreement of the Ocean.

A good foundation to build on for the future has been set at the Ocean Conference and it is imperative that the positive momentum continues and indeed accelerates. The role of the UN system will be critical to this, and other future Ocean Conference which should continue to contribute to the implementation of the SDG 14.

Ultimately, implementation and its means (financing, technology and capacity) will be key. As the world’s governments proclaimed in the Call for Action: “Our ocean is critical to our shared future and common humanity” and “we are determined to act decisively and urgently” in protecting and restoring the health and resilience of our blue planet.

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