06/30/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/30/2022 15:51
Focus on Role of Youth, Small-Scale Fishers in Decision-making
LISBON, 30 June - Scientific collaboration and knowledge-sharing is essential to protecting humanity's shared ocean heritage, speakers stressed on the fourth day of the 2022 Ocean Conference, also spotlighting the need to broaden participation in decision-making to include voices in policy negotiations that - while often overlooked - possess unique experiences and capabilities.
The representative of Nauru, while highlighting the unique sustainable-development challenges facing her small island developing State, emphasized the ocean's importance not just for ocean States, but for all of humanity. As such, she called for stronger cooperation in scientific data collection and said that the importance of such collaboration should be reflected in the Conference's outcome document.
The representative of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) provided a tangible example of this kind of partnership, detailing the Commission's efforts to help local governments and organizations measure and monitor plastic waste using innovations such as artificial intelligence, satellite imaging and waste-flow monitoring.
Similarly, the representative of the International Seabed Authority - tasked with managing the deep seabed on the basis of equality between States - said that the Authority ensures equitable access to resources and knowledge relating to the deep seabed, which covers more than half of the ocean floor.
"We need to stop working in isolation," stressed the representative of Communidad y Bioversidad, adding that technology is crucial for breaking digital divides and ensuring equitable opportunities for all.
The representative of the International Science Council, emphasizing that ocean actors "must be able to find each other", said that solutions must be shared in real-time, unimpeded by language or technology barriers. The international community must break free from top-down, hierarchical systems of knowledge to enable the co-creation of ocean knowledge. For example, he pointed out that many small-scale fishing groups present at this Conference have knowledge to contribute.
On that point, the representative of Blue Ventures said that fishers are the best scientists of the ocean but are rarely represented in decision-making. "There is nothing small about small-scale fishers," he stressed, because they have the global reach and knowledge to reshape humanity's relationship with the ocean.
Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, Minister for Culture, Environment and Marine Resources of French Polynesia, pointed out that the Non-Self-Governing Territory is committed to preserving a coastal zone for small-scale and subsistence fishing equivalent to the surface area of France. While those living on small islands are under threat from a phenomenon they did not cause, he said that they are more than victims as there is much opportunity in these parts of the world.
Along those lines, Melvin Turnbull, Minister for Natural Resources and Labour of the British Virgin Islands, called for a reclassification of small island developing States' economies as large ocean States. This paradigm shift would acknowledge that the definition of such States as "small" land masses does not account for their immense contribution to adaptation and conservation measures and would raise awareness that there are vast, untapped ocean resources that must be better understood.
Recognizing that, the representative of The Nippon Foundation said that his organization will develop human-resource capacity for young researchers from small island developing States, also training administrative officers from such States in ocean governance. He also noted that, in 2024, the Foundation will convene a global islands summit in Tokyo to hear the voices of small island developing States.
The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis, one such voice, highlighted the importance of ocean literacy and detailed her country's programmes to ensure that all stakeholders - including children - are aware of marine species, resources and general marine ecology, as well as how to interact responsibly with the same.
The representative of the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, noting the Institute's role as a regional knowledge hub, also underlined the importance of empowering youth with scientific knowledge to allow them to decide what they can do to mitigate and adapt to environmental changes. The international community must invest towards this end as, in a few years, these individuals will make crucial decisions in local and parliamentary elections that will likely determine the planet's future.
The representative of Heirs to Our Oceans echoed that sentiment, noting that many young people haven't been given the opportunity to learn how human activity impacts oceans. They must be given the tools to understand the oceans and provided a meaningful seat at the table. While there is much talk about preserving the ocean for future generations, she pointed out that it is important to have those future generations in the room.
The representative of the Children and Youth Major Group stressed that, until the international community's words match its actions, the world will continue to have conferences without achieving outcomes. Joining other youth voices in calling for a moratorium on deep-seabed mining, he urged that they be included in decision-making regarding ocean governance.
The representative of Uno Punto Cinco urged decision-makers around the world to protect at least 30 per cent of marine areas by 2030, which would demonstrate to young people working to protect the ocean - often without financial support and sometimes at personal risk - that change is possible. She went on to urge Governments to mobilize the resources required for developing countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 (life below water), stressing that "commitments without funds are just words".
Also speaking was the President of France, ministers and vice-ministers of Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Finland, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Viet Nam and Bangladesh, and representatives of Yemen, Cambodia, Armenia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Haiti and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Cook Islands.
Representatives of the Pacific Islands Forum, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, Commonwealth, North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Union, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States also spoke, along with a representative of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-Economic Aspects.
Also speaking were representatives of the organizations Oceano Azul Foundation, United Cities and Local Governments, Institute for Environmental Security, Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative, EarthEcho International, Missionary Society of St. Columban, The Millenials Movement, The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Sailors for Sea Japan, OceanCare, Seascape Consultants Ltd., Mediterranean Protected Areas Network, Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, Ocean Conservancy, World Ocean Network, Upwell Turtles, Marine Stewardship Council, Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute, Ørsted, Stiftelsen Stockholm International Water Institute, BlueBio Alliance, Conseil des Innu de Ekuanitshit, GreenX Telemechanics Limited, Live Ocean, Energias de Portugal S.A., Blue Forest, RARE, National Oceanography Centre, International Confederation of Catholic Charities, MUN Impact, International Union of Socialist Youth, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and SWEN Blue Ocean.
The representative of Mauritius spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Ocean Conference will reconvene in plenary at 3 p.m. on Friday, 1 July, to hear reporting on the interactive dialogues and adopt its political declaration and report.
BORISLAV SANDOV, Deputy Prime Minister for Climate Policies and Minister for Environment and Water of Bulgaria, said that sustainable coastal development is a priority for the Government and, as a country in the Black Sea region, Bulgaria places a special focus on the blue economy, including fisheries, aquaculture and tourism. To achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 (life below water), the Government plans to improve the conservation status of marine natural habitats and species by increasing marine protected areas, also investing €54 million in measures aimed at preserving biodiversity. Further, national measures have been designed to reduce plastic packaging and implement new technological solutions to improve the sustainability of products and reduce the use of raw materials in their production. He went on to emphasize that preserving marine ecosystems and biodiversity offers significant potential for employment and economic growth, and that research, technology and innovation can ensure evidence-based policies that "turn challenges into opportunities".
ARNOLDO ANDRÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, noting that his country hosts 3.5 per cent of the world's marine biodiversity, said the effects of climate change and acidification are critical issues for middle-income coastal States such as his own. Voicing support for various global frameworks of action relating to ocean protection, he highlighted the "Low Litter Partnerships" project, which aims to reduce the use of plastic in the shipping sector. Costa Rica is part of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, he said, and is participating in negotiations for a convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Also spotlighting Costa Rica's collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), he said the Government is focusing on a model of marine governance which considers conservation and economic activities hand in hand because nature-based solutions are the best way to ensure a blue recovery.
MIKA LINTILÄ, Minister for Economic Affairs of Finland, said that protecting at least 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030 is already included in the European Union Biodiversity Strategy, and Finland works decisively towards reaching this goal. He pointed in this regard to its maritime policy guidelines and strong support for the decision taken at the United Nations Environment Assembly in March to start negotiations on a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution. Finland is also an active partner in several regional seas cooperation platforms. Finland submitted 10 commitments to the Ocean Conference, worth at least €100 million, which aim to improve the environmental status of the Baltic Sea. Also expressing concern about the status of the Arctic Ocean, he called for innovative solutions from all stakeholders.
JOSÉ RAMÓN REYES LÓPEZ, Vice-Minister for Coastal and Marine Resources of the Dominican Republic, said his country is among those most-affected by extreme weather events despite only contributing 0.06 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Islands are highly vulnerable, due to their geographic situation and natural and cultural riches that attract tourists but present challenges. Further, their size puts pressure on resources and limits economic diversification, and their isolation complicates trade. Against that backdrop, the Dominican Republic is working to sustainably manage protected areas and conserve biodiversity, mangroves and coral reefs. This ecosystems approach is centred on nature-based solutions - giving rise to nature-based services - and can save time and money compared to megaprojects that often only serve as a stopgap without addressing the root problem. He added that, in restoring vulnerable ecosystems, conserving biodiversity and acting against those who commit environmental crimes, the Dominican Republic is gradually changing the culture of coastal and ocean management.
SHARON IKEAZOR, Minister of State for Environment of Nigeria, said her country's coastline, which is the longest in West Africa, contains a variety of biodiverse regions, from freshwater to mangroves. Noting projections that 40 million people will be employed in ocean-based industries by 2030, she said the ecosystem services and natural capital of the ocean are critical to livelihoods. Commending the United Nations for leading the process of effective ocean governance, she highlighted Nigeria's national policy on plastic pollution and the road map on tackling solid and plastic waste management. Further, the country is mainstreaming ocean management into the economy, she said, voicing commitment to participating constructively in the ongoing negotiations for various multilateral agreements, including on conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The science is very clear that the downward spiral will not stop unless the international community protects 30 per cent of the oceans, she underscored.
TALAL ALJAMALI (Yemen), associating himself with the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, pointed out that implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has reached its midpoint, and it's time to reflect on progress and shortcomings. Calling for greater partnerships, he said that Goal 14 is not an isolated target but concerns all other goals, such as improving food security and eradicating poverty. His country faces a risk of an unprecedented environmental catastrophe stemming from the deteriorating floating oil tanker that carries 100 million tons of crude oil, adding that the Houthis are delaying access to inspectors in full disregard of the humanitarian repercussions of oil leakage. Due to monsoon winds and the sea current, oil could reach the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean and damage coral reefs in the Red Seas and undermine the fishing sector, he warned, urging the international community to exert pressure on the Houthis to avoid such a crisis, which would cost billions of dollars.
KET SOPHANN (Cambodia) said that the oceans are "too often taken for granted", as it is easy to assume - based on their vast size - that ocean resources are unlimited. "But they are not," he stressed. Spotlighting the issue of marine pollution and associated threats to wildlife and public health, he emphasized that addressing this problem will require major changes in waste management, agriculture and consumption patterns. He went on to say that tourism and marine trade contribute significantly to Cambodia's economy, and that these sectors have "plenty of room" for expansion and improvement. Towards this end, the Government has invested in climate-resilient infrastructure and wastewater treatment stations to protect the environment. Further, it created a marine protected area earlier this month, and coastal conservation programmes are under way with the help of development partners and the private sector. He added that his country has drafted a new environmental code, which includes a strengthened legal framework for protecting biodiversity and conserving marine environments, along with measures to reduce the use of plastic bags and packaging throughout Cambodia.
MARGO DEIYE (Nauru), stressing the unique sustainable development challenges facing her small island developing State, pointed to its small size, over-dependence on imports and vulnerability to climate change. The ocean is important not only for ocean States but for all humanity, she said, highlighting the challenge of acidification and the financially consuming task of monitoring ocean chemistry. Calling for stronger cooperation in scientific data collection, she said the outcome document of the current conference must reflect the importance of this issue. Also pointing to the need for a tax to help countries affected by such losses, she said the instrument on conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction must enable the creation of cross-sectoral marine protected areas and provide for equitable sharing of marine genetic resources. All the countries that benefit from tuna must equally share the burden of tuna stock conservation, she said, underscoring that "climate action equals ocean action."
GAREN NAZARYAN (Armenia) said that despite the hardships caused by the pandemic and the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh, his country still aims to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government has introduced the "Armenia Transformation Strategy 2050", built around 16 mega-goals in the areas of socioeconomic, educational and human development. The goals are closely linked with those of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, synchronizing Armenia's national priorities and the reform agenda. As a landlocked country, Armenia attaches importance to Part X of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which outlines the right of landlocked States to access the sea and their freedom of transit. "Whether we live on the coast or on a landlocked mountaintop, oceans and seas impact our lives and we all are connected to them through rivers, lakes and streams," he said.
TEURU PASSFIELD (Cook Islands) recalled that, at the 2017 Ocean Conference, her country announced plans to dedicate its nearly 2 million-square-kilometre exclusive economic zone to protection, conservation and integrated management in the form of a marine park - Marae Moana. Since the establishment of this park, the Government has designated protected areas of 50 nautical miles around each of the country's 15 islands, where all commercial extractive activities are restricted. Upcoming projects within Marae Moana include efforts to map the seafloor, monitor the ocean, strengthen the blue economy, implement traditional and small-scale conservation practices and address pollution. She went on to express concern over the environmental, social, cultural and health impacts of plastic pollution in the Cook Islands, spotlighting the fact that her country does not produce any plastic. To remedy this issue, she called for concerted international effort towards establishing a binding international treaty to address plastic pollution. Adding that the traditional development framework "does not work for everyone" - as it is based on the premise that countries reduce vulnerability as wealth grows - she said that this is not the case for small island developing States and welcomed efforts to finalize and implement a multidimensional vulnerability index.
ASHA DESUZA (Saint Kitts and Nevis), highlighting her country's Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Resources Act of 2016, said it provides for sustainable use of fisheries. Further, the Saint Kitts and Nevis Marine Management Area integrates coastal zone management, she said, also pointing to the country's multistakeholder approach to combating marine pollution. The Government, in collaboration with local environmental groups, has coordinated several coastal clean-up exercises, she said, adding that four days ago, it validated a national strategy to implement the Agreement on Port State Measures to Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. Highlighting the importance of ocean literacy, she said the country has embarked on several programmes to ensure that all stakeholders, including children, are aware of marine species, resources and general marine ecology and how to interact with them responsibly. Stressing the need for financial and technical assistance as well as the urgent transfer of marine technology, she said that science-based solutions and meaningful international partnerships are essential to successfully protect the ocean.
ANNICK CAPET BAKOU (Côte d'Ivoire) said better management of coastal and marine resources is key to ensuring food security. Her country has mainstreamed the three pillars of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental - into the economy through institutional arrangements. The national strategy and guidelines for the development of fishery resources provide an overall vision for sustainable fishing and access for small-scale fishermen to marinas and markets. The Government also has also adopted measures to restore fish stocks, he said, citing a plan to replenish the Aby lagoon by establishing a "no take" period of six months from July to December. Côte d'Ivoire now has two instruments to support the sustainable management of fisheries resources - one to transform aquaculture and the other for transition to the blue economy.
MEZANG AKAMBA (Cameroon), aligning himself with the Group of African States, emphasized the need for this Conference to be a "turning point" in the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and marine resources. Expressing concern over global warming, sea-level rise, plastic pollution and other toxic waste entering seas and other bodies of water, he stressed that "this is a time bomb for humanity". Countries in the global South are the most exposed to the effects of climate change, and Cameroon has witnessed this first-hand in the form of drastic droughts in the Lake Chad area. Reiterating the call to "save Lake Chad", he also reaffirmed the Government's commitment to protect the oceans and seas through measures to combat marine piracy, and sustainably manage them through the use of green technology. He also detailed national efforts to control coastal erosion, protect mangroves and sustainably manage fish stocks. Adding that international assistance is crucial, he called for inclusive partnership towards raising the necessary funds to promote the blue economy.
ANTONIO RODRIGUE (Haiti), noting that oceans and their ecosystems constitute 90 per cent of the biosphere, said that 80 per cent of global trade happens by sea. The accelerated degradation of the environment poses a threat to future generations and may even cause some southern island States to disappear. Noting that 8 million tons of plastic waste are dumped into the sea every year, he called on the international community to drastically reduce such harmful activities. What is at stake is the future of the planet, he stressed, adding an international legal framework already exists but it must be consolidated by national implementation. Highlighting the structural and financial handicaps that hamper his country, he said Haiti has faced the brunt of terrible storms and hurricanes. "We have to adopt new modes of consumption, production and growth," he said, adding that the seas and ocean are global public goods.
PHAM QUANG HIEU, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said that with an approximately 3,260-kilometre coastline, his country's economy is ocean-based, with more than half of the population's livelihood dependent on the South China Sea, also referred to as the East Sea. In the last few years, Viet Nam has carried out concrete measures to respond to the urgency of maritime and ocean issues. Since the last Ocean Conference, its national strategy and mechanisms for sustainable ocean-based economic development have been further developed. Attention is adequately paid to marine plastic pollution. Sustainable fisheries and combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing are national policies. Marine ecosystem is addressed in a holistic manner, including through several marine-protected zones. Stressing that climate change is a top priority, he said a national action plan earnestly implements the "net-zero" commitment declared in Glasgow. Viet Nam has joined international efforts, co-hosting recent international conferences on marine litter and plastic pollution, as well as on climate change adaption. His Government also is actively participating in negotiations on an agreement to address plastic pollution.
The representative of the Pacific Islands Forum, spotlighting the existential threat posed by rising sea levels, underscored the primacy and centrality of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and called on all States to support the Forum's Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise. He also expressed hope that this year will see the finalization of a global treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Further, he called on the international community to scale-up ocean finance for a sustainable blue economy to maximize the economic returns of Pacific fisheries and build ocean science, data and technological capability. He went on to underline the need to address nuclear safety and nuclear waste - recalling the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant - and called on every State with nuclear power plants to constantly strive for higher safety standards and find solutions for nuclear waste that do not include dumping radioactive material into the ocean. He added that common sense compels questioning why treated water - if safe, as claimed - is not used for human purposes such as drinking, agriculture or washing.
EBRU BARUTÇU GÖKDENİZLER, First Deputy Secretary-General of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, noting that the 13 member States of her organization are committed to the protection of the Black Sea, said the implementation of Goal 14 relates directly to its very raison d'étre. The Black Sea is recognized as one of the most polluted seas of the globe with anoxic waters below 200 metres, she said, expressing concern about the current conflict in the region that has caused massive loss of innocent lives, immense human suffering, colossal material destruction and serious marine life loss. The organization focuses on preservation and restoration of the environment of the Black Sea, the development of blue and green economies and building a greener and more environmentally friendly transport system, she said. Many projects address marine litter and plastics at sea as well as the adverse impact of climate change, she noted, also stressing the importance of promoting research, innovation and connectivity in the Black Sea region.
PATRICIA JANET SCOTLAND, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, recalling that she presented the idea of the Commonwealth Blue Charter at the 2017 Ocean Conference, said the Blue Charter was adopted 10 months later and is the flagship among a fleet of Commonwealth policies and programmes designed to help member countries protect the ocean. About 2.5 billion people, spread across five continents and six basins, share one ocean, and 49 of the 56 Commonwealth countries border an ocean. The Commonwealth is home to around 45 per cent of all coral reefs and more than a third of the world's mangroves. The Blue Charter interweaves with two other key initiatives - the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which has unlocked $50 million for climate-vulnerable countries with another $800 million in the pipeline - and the new Living Lands Charter, endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government last week. Taken together, these three Commonwealth initiatives tackle the crises of climate change, terrestrial biodiversity loss, and the fragile health of the ocean.
HEREMOANA MAAMAATUAIAHUTAPU, Minister for Culture, Environment and Marine Resources of French Polynesia, said that French Polynesians - the "peoples of the canoe" - are facing extreme weather threats due to climate change, a phenomenon to which they did not contribute. However, he stressed that they not be seen only as victims, as there is much opportunity in French Polynesia, which has prohibited all technology other than line fishing from its exclusive economic zone. French Polynesia also works to protect sharks, turtles and manta rays - having created a marine protected area 5 million square kilometres in size - and has organized seasonal, sustainable fishing and prohibited access to certain areas to preserve nature. It also employs an approach to development alternative to one based purely on economic growth, including by improving living standards and creating solidarity between generations. Further, French Polynesia is committed to protecting all species of coral from 2022 and all coral ecosystems by 2030, along with preserving a coastal zone for small-scale and subsistence fishing equivalent to the surface area of France. He added a call to make the high seas "the heritage of future generations", rather than allowing a "free for all".
MELVIN TURNBULL, Minister for Natural Resources and Labour of the British Virgin Islands, pointed to good progress in his Territory on regrowing mangrove forests, expanding coral nurseries and monitoring fishing levels. Marine-based tourism is rebounding, with yachts returning to the Territory's shores, he said, adding: "Our goal is to become the most sustainable sailing destination in the world, in line with our position as the sailing capital of the world." Well-grounded in the 2030 Agenda, the 2019 Blue Economy Road Map focuses on the sustainable development of maritime tourism, developing the fisheries sector and improving the knowledge base around the marine environment. Calling for a reclassification of small island developing States' economies as large ocean States, he highlighted the combined vastness of their exclusive economic zones. This paradigm shift would acknowledge that the definition of such States as "small" land masses does not account for their immense contribution to climate adaptation and conservation of marine biodiversity. "Our oceans are as important in terms of carbon sequestration" as those of larger States, he said, adding that this would also raise awareness that there are vast, untapped ocean resources which must be better understood.
A.K. ABDUL MOMEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said the world now understands that healthy oceans are critical for sustaining life, eliminating poverty and promoting prosperity. "They define a make-or-break significance for Bangladesh," he said, explaining that sea-level rise of one metre can mean inundation of one third of the most fertile lands and displacement of more than 20 million inhabitants. Exploitation of a mere 5 per cent of maritime resources could essentially render almost a percentage point jump in its gross domestic product (GDP). The Government has declared 8.8 per cent of its exclusive economic zone as marine protected areas and implemented a national action plan to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in 2019. It has amended the 2018 Ship Recycle Act and set a target to comply with the Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships by 2023. Further, Bangladesh banned the manufacture of single-use plastic shopping bags in 2002 - the first among developing countries to do so. It has made use of biodegradable jute bags mandatory for packaging various commodities. It has already taken legislative measures and committed resources to continue a 65-day fishing ban on all kinds of fish and instituted an 8-month ban on juvenile hilsa fish.
MICHAEL LODGE, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, pointed out that, in jurisdictional terms, the deep seabed is the largest part of the ocean, covering more than half of the ocean floor. The Authority has managed this area since 1994, when the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea came into force, on the basis of equality between States and under a comprehensive legal regime designed to achieve the sustainable use of marine mineral resources. The Authority delivers on its unique mandate in full transparency, and the regime ensures equitable access to resources, along with the sharing of knowledge relating to the deep seabed. He emphasized that the Authority remains committed to playing its part to deliver targets under Goal 14, citing a 2021 independent report that stated that this commitment has already contributed to 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. He went on to highlight the importance of recalling the Convention's many successes, but noted that this "constitution for the ocean" - and the institutions established by it - face significant challenges as multilateralism is in retreat around the world and polarized actions threaten to widen divisions between States parties. He expressed hope that this Conference provides an opportunity to address this.
DARIUS CAMPBELL, Secretary of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, said his organization focuses on regional fisheries management in the North-East Atlantic, highlighting the role of fisheries in combating food insecurity by providing a low-carbon and low-impact source of protein. In addition to its work on the use of fishery resources, the Commission also delivers conservation measures, he said, highlighting its work in the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems. Further, the Commission works on the basis of independent ecosystem-based scientific advice, he said, drawing attention to its collaboration with various United Nations agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its network of regional secretariats.
The representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization stressed that all stakeholders are essential parts of the same value chain. Following the first Ocean Conference in 2017, Member States proclaimed the 2021-2030 period the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Noting that UNESCO is the lead agency for implementation of the Decade, he described how its research provides science-based inputs to inform policies. Its ocean health assessments reveal that Governments underinvest in that field. The Agency also leads efforts for sustainable ocean planning, he said.
The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization said that achieving Goal 14 is essential not only for the health of the ocean but also to reducing poverty and eradicating hunger. While the world currently faces many challenges, there is great opportunity in the fishing and agriculture sectors. "My message today is simple," she said, stressing that oceans, rivers and lakes can help feed the world if their valuable resources are used responsibly, sustainably and equitably. Aquatic food production is more efficient, has less impact on the environment, and emits lower greenhouse-gas emissions than most land-based animal-protein production systems. Further, aquatic food offers highly accessible sources of animal proteins and micronutrients and plays a vital role in food and nutrition security for many in the world. She stressed, however, that the international community must work to make aquatic food systems more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable so they can contribute to better production, nutrition and life for all. She went on to urge that aquatic foods be included in national food security and nutrition strategies.
The representative of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-Economic Aspects, said she is a member of the group of experts that leads the delivery of world ocean assessments. The Process is the only global mechanism accountable to the General Assembly that reviews the environmental, economic and social aspects of the world's oceans. Highlighting the organ's mandate to strengthen the regular scientific assessment of the marine environment in order to advance the scientific basis of policymaking, she said that without widespread recognition of the role of oceans in human welfare and equitable sharing of knowledge and technology, it will be impossible to achieve a healthy future. The third cycle of the Process will prioritize interaction with other intergovernmental ocean processes. It will also deliver a capacity-building programme to strengthen the science-policy interface at national and regional levels, through a series of regular workshops, she said, calling for widespread participation in these activities .
The representative of The Nippon Foundation said unregulated human activities undermine the ocean, noting that he can hear "the scream of Mother Ocean". Detailing efforts by the foundation, he said it has undertaken ocean governance capacity-building for decades and is planning three new projects. The Foundation will train administrative officers in small island developing States in ocean governance and develop human resource capacity for young researchers from these States. In addition, it will convene a global islands summit in Tokyo in 2024 to hear the voices of small island developing States.
The representative of the International Science Council, emphasizing the need for new ways to create self-organizing, bottom-up learning, said ocean actors "must be able to find each other" and that solutions must be able to be shared in real-time, unimpeded by language or technology barriers. Further, he called for breaking free from top-down, hierarchical systems to enable the co-creation of ocean knowledge. The international community should look for ways to engage citizens in blue-economy and blue-justice visions, and he pointed out by way of example that small-scale fisherfolk are marginalized in decision processes. However, they must be included so fishing communities are resilient and able to protect the ocean. He added that many small-scale fishing groups present at this Conference can contribute knowledge derived from social struggles and help advance human-rights-based approaches to protecting oceans and fisheries.
The representative of Communidad y Bioversidad called for mobilizing local solutions to revitalize fisheries and coastal communities. "We need to stop working in isolation," she said, adding that technology is crucial for breaking digital divides and ensuring equitable opportunities for all. Stressing the importance of involving all stakeholders and linking Sustainable Development Goal 14 with Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, she said that the problems confronting the ocean are "tremendous but fixable". There can be no blue economies at the expense of social justice, she underscored, adding that her organization aims to become a collective impact space for small-scale fishers, including women and youth.
The representative of Oceano Azul Foundation said that science tells how serious the ocean crisis is. His foundation works with partners to expand marine protected areas. It has been working with partners to create the largest such area in the North Atlantic, around the Selvagens Islands Nature Reserve, home to a vibrant and balanced ecosystem with an enormous diversity of flora and fauna. The area is the size of 10 per cent of Europe's maritime area. All species in it are fully protected against extractive industries, including fishing and mining. His foundation is doing its part, he stressed, urging Member States to share their annual targets for ocean conservation.
The representative of United Cities and Local Governments called for examining the contributions made by local and regional governments in building sustainable development models that respond to global challenges. Noting that settlements in coastal and island areas are more vulnerable to changes in marine ecosystems, he said the political declaration must be explicit regarding the imperative to tap the knowledge and expertise of local and regional governments in building sustainable management models that address deterioration in oceans and seas. Their leadership on these topics is widely available and he advocated cooperation with other levels of government, with a view to halting the current pace of ocean degradation.
LEONEL JOSEFA CORREA SACKO, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Blue Economy of the African Union, said the ocean is the continent's new development frontier. Highlighting the wide expanse of the territorial waters in Africa's jurisdiction, she said they represent immense blue economy potential. More than 12 million people make their livelihood in the fishing sector alone, generating an estimated value of 1.26 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of her continent's countries. However, Africa cannot fully benefit from the potential of its marine and coastal resources as these are threatened by various anthropogenic factors, such as climate change and pollution. Highlighting the problem posed by the lack of data, she drew attention to the African Commission's Blue Economy Strategy, which aims to enable the continent to adopt a sustainable management of marine and coastal resources. This includes policies and programmes for data collection, marine spatial planning and science-based management as well as plans to increase women's participation in ocean activities. Also stressing the need to combat plastic pollution, she acknowledged Norway's support for the Union's Blue Economy Division.
The representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the Agency may be best known as the world's nuclear weapons watchdog, but it has an equally important mandate to expand access to the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. The IAEA Nuclear Technology for Controlling Plastic Pollution, or NUTEC, assists countries in integrating nuclear techniques in their efforts to deal with plastic pollution. Key to this work are the IAEA's unique laboratories in Austria and Monaco. At the labs in Monaco, scientists apply radiotracer techniques to improve the understanding of the processes involved in the dynamics of radionuclides, and contaminants in general, in the marine environment. He also noted that the Agency, through its Marine Environment Laboratories, serves as a co-focal point for the Community of Ocean Action on Ocean Acidification.
ARMIDA SALSIAH ALISJAHBANA, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), pointed out that 200 million people in Asia and the Pacific depend on the ocean for their livelihood and that the region contains 71 per cent of the world's coral reefs, 45 per cent of the world's mangroves, 66 per cent of the world's fisheries production and 89 per cent of its aquaculture production. Detailing ESCAP's work, she said that, as marine pollution continues to intensify in the region, the Commission is helping local governments and organizations measure and monitor plastic waste within their cities using digital innovations such as artificial intelligence, satellite imaging, drones, citizen science and waste-flow monitoring. She went on to say that the international community continues to face data challenges on Goal 14 indicators, as data is not evenly available or necessarily collected in a uniform, systematic manner. Outlining several efforts to tackle this, she said that ESCAP has fully implemented a commitment made at the 2017 Ocean Conference to strengthen data partnerships for oceans in Asia and the Pacific.
A representative of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, noting the essential role of oceans in sustainable development, said the international community must collectively stop jeopardizing the Earth. Calling for urgent and sustained action to save the world's ocean from overfishing, pollution, habitat degradation and climate change, she said her organization is committed to building a resilient fisheries sector, including by improving small-scale fisheries and combating illegal unreported fishing. Highlighting the nexus between the twin global challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, she said that must be tackled through ocean-based action. The 79 member States of her organization, spread over six regions, stand ready to work together on this, she said, highlighting its transformative pathway to ensure the sustainable and productive use of oceans.
The representative of the Institute for Environmental Security warned against extractive and polluting activities, overfishing, and deep-sea mining. She called on parliaments worldwide to adopt a moratorium on deep-sea mining while also imploring Member States to invest more in technology that addresses illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which feeds organized crimes. "Let's start walking the talk," she urged.
The representative of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative said that her organization is a public-private partnership bringing together over 100 partners across the globe to promote more sustainable fishing, including through establishing benchmark tools for environmental seafood certification to help create a level playing field to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Noting that the Conference provides an opportunity to strengthen collective efforts to save the oceans, she emphasized the critical role of blue foods in achieving global food security and supporting livelihoods in all communities. She recommended that the Conference's outcome document contain tangible commitments on the sustainable management of all fisheries and aquaculture, also calling on Governments to ratify and implement the FAO's agreement to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. She added that the Conference should highlight the contributions of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture actors, whose access to markets should be increased to bridge the gap between the seafood industry and such actors.
CHARLEY PEEBLER, Co-Founder of Heirs to Our Oceans, noting that she co-founded this organization when she was 12 years old, said that her voice was often one of the few youth voices in the many rooms in which she spoke. Many youth are unaware of the science of ocean management, she said, noting that they haven't had the opportunity to learn how human activity impacts oceans. Her generation must be given the tools to understand the oceans, she said, adding that the educational reform must focus on empathetic leadership, critical thinking skills and traditional ecological knowledge. Youth must be provided a meaningful seat at the table because "our ocean needs intergenerational partnership", she stressed. The minimum age for participation at conferences like this should be lowered to 15 or 16, she said, adding that while there is a lot of talk about preserving the ocean for future generations, it is important to have the future generations in the room.
The representative of EarthEcho International said her group is a growing movement of young ocean advocates, driving innovative ocean restoration and education initiatives. "We cannot restore the ocean without youth," she said, stressing that it is time to scale up ocean action with youth at the centre. She also called on Governments to protect at least 30 per cent of the ocean. Young people will bear the consequences of the current generation's inaction, she warned.
The representative of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, presenting the voices of Oceanian women - particularly those from Fiji - recounted that they live along the seashores and riverbanks of islands and, for many years, have fed their families from these sources. They have also built schools and churches and sustained their families through money earned from selling seafood. In recent years, however, Governments have permitted companies to extract soil, sand, rocks and gravel from these rivers and oceans, which has inhibited their ability to sustain their families. He said that extractive companies have cut these individuals' lifeline and, in many cases, many living in villages targeted by such companies for extraction will become refugees due to short-sighted, selfish business practices. Stressing that this is the story of many Pacific Islanders, he pointed out that their voices are absent from this Conference because they do not have the money to attend. He therefore urged that their presence be provided for at future conferences.
EMMANUEL MACRON, President of France, noting that he was recently in Madrid at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, stressed that despite the many difficulties of the current moment, including the war in Europe, the international community must not divert its attention from the sustainable development agenda. Noting that 2030 is already visible on the horizon, he said France has been working to mobilize scientists, civil society, philanthropists, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. Pointing to tangible results in ocean protection, he noted the certification of green ship builders and restoration of mangroves and coral reefs, calling them sources of hope. His country undertook clear commitments on combating plastic pollution, as well as on tackling illicit fishing, he said, highlighting the work of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. "Europe knows how to make historical decisions," he said, pointing to the Paris Agreement on climate change and other international accords on strengthening carbon markets and combating deforestation. "What we are doing on land" needs to be done on the ocean as well, he said, announcing the candidacy of France, along with Costa Rica, to host a new United Nations Ocean Conference in 2025.
The representative of The Millennials Movement, introducing herself as a Peruvian and the executive director of the group, urged the participants to protect the ocean. "Protecting the ocean is the obligation of this generation, all of you," she said, stressing that human rights of the future generations depend on ocean action. She also said that the Latin American region is the most hostile to environmental defenders and asked for the establishment of a mechanism to allocate resources to regional preparatory processes with stakeholder engagement.
The representative of the Children and Youth Major Group called for a moratorium on deep-seabed mining, which is "not worth the risk" and whose costs outweigh the short-term benefits. He went on to say that, until the international community's actions reflect its words, the world will continue to have conferences without achieving successful outcomes. Further, many small island developing States and least-developed countries - who depend on the sea to support their economies through small-scale fishing - are often neglected in the discussion. Stressing that ocean governance is paramount to addressing the triple planetary crises and achieving climate justice, he urged that children and youth be included in decision-making in this area. Their participation, he added, is lacking at this Conference, especially in its side events.
A representative of The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, welcoming action towards a legally binding treaty on combating plastic pollution, encouraged all stakeholders to maintain high levels of mobilization. Applauding the recent decision to make the marking of fishing gear mandatory, she said it is a best practice and an important preliminary step to address the problem of abandoned fishing gear. This is crucial to ensure the health and productivity of the ocean, she said, adding: "If we look after the ocean, it will look after us."
The representative of Sailors for Sea Japan said his organization launched a seafood rating programme, Blue Sea Guide, to raise public awareness about seafood sustainability. The Guide is based on science and offers recommendations. The Government of Japan recently amended the fishery law for the first time in 17 years, and an anti-illegal-fishing law will be implemented at the end of this year.
The representative of Uno Punto Cinco, noting the alarming status of marine and coastal areas in Latin America and the Caribbean, urged decision-makers around the world to be more ambitious and protect at least 30 per cent of marine areas by 2030. This would demonstrate to young people working to protect the ocean - often without financial support and sometimes at personal risk - that change is possible. Protecting the oceans is not just an environmental imperative, she said, stressing that it also means standing up for climate justice, human rights, indigenous people, women, youth and the millions who depend on the oceans. Adding that "commitments without funds are just words", she called on Governments to mobilize the resources required for developing countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14.
A representative of OceanCare drew attention to scientific evidence that ocean noise, from shipping and coastal construction, is a threat to marine ecosystems. It affects the marine food web, which has implications for livelihoods and food security, she said, adding that the exploration of hydrocarbon is counterproductive to the 2030 Agenda. Calling for global efforts to mitigate ocean noise, she said it must be recognized as a form of pollution under Sustainable Development Goal 14. Policy action should not be delayed waiting for more science because there is already enough scientific documentation, she said.
The representative of Seascape Consultants Ltd. said his organization works to expand the scientific basis to inform systematic ocean governance and planning, collaborating with scientistic authorities and building national research capacity. Its work contributed to the Convention on Biological Diversity and other global frameworks, including the current negotiation process for a legally binding framework for biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The representative of the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, noting that the Institute serves as a regional knowledge hub, called for efforts to empower youth with scientific knowledge to allow them to decide what they can do to mitigate and adapt to environmental changes. To achieve this, innovative tools and mechanisms must be developed to facilitate effective knowledge transfer and provide youth with an understanding that every person "has a profound impact on the fate of the planet". The international community must invest in youth climate and ocean education, he added, because teenage citizens will make crucial decisions in a few years in local and parliamentary elections that will likely determine the planet's future.
A representative of Mediterranean Protected Areas Network, stressing that increasing the number of marine protected areas is vital to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, noted that such an increase is not just about quantity, it is about quality. Highlighting the network of regional and subregional marine protected area managers, she described it as "a critical blue belt" and "an active community of practice that translates global policies into ground level action." Calling for a new chapter in ocean action, she said thriving communities are crucial for accelerating the 2030 Agenda. The European Union Ocean Governance Project is active in capacity-building for marine protected areas around the world, she said, underscoring the importance of a global alliance in fostering ocean solutions.
The representative of Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace said that as a faith-based organization, it believes everyone has a moral obligation to protect the ecosystem. Any negotiating processes must be based on the sacredness of life, interconnectedness and relations. Without these, the processes will fail. She called for a global ban on deep-sea mining, which disrupts the carbon cycle of the sea floor, which itself is a carbon sink.
The representative of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research said that, since it was established in 1957, the Committee has been instrumental in planning and coordinating international collaborative oceanographic research. She detailed its portfolio of projects, including those investigating the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere and examining the effects of multi-stressors on marine biota. The Committee also supports working groups in developing tools and databases to understand ocean processes. The knowledge generated through these initiatives is critical to developing a sustainable blue economy and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14.
A representative of Ocean Conservancy, noting that acting to solve the climate crisis is the most important pathway for the health of oceans, stressed the importance of reducing plastic production, which will also lessen fossil fuel dependency. Calling on the international community to work actively to improve the resilience of coastal communities, she said that high-level commitments, including nationally determined contributions made at various conferences, should be actively implemented. Action on shipping provides a great opportunity, she said, noting the high impact of domestic and international shipping emissions. Highlighting the danger posed by shipping emissions to the Arctic marine ecosystem, she noted that five companies have signed a pledge to avoid shipping through the Arctic.
The representative of the World Ocean Network said she is a college student studying marine biology in France. Along with a group of young people across Europe and beyond, she is engaged in ocean literacy. "We are ready for a change," she said, expressing her readiness to collaborate with decision-makers to drive that transition and calling for a moratorium on deep sea mining.
The representative of Upwell Turtles said that his organization collaborates with the public and private sector to counter the declining turtle population worldwide. Noting that two breeding stocks of leatherback sea turtles will soon be extinct without action, he said that the combined ranges of both stocks encompass nearly the entire Pacific Basin, which makes managing these habitats challenging. For its part, Upwell Turtles employs multiple data sets to ensure the recovery and continued persistence of leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean and to protect all seven species of sea turtles worldwide. He added that it has contributed $750,000 to support the monitoring of critically endangered turtle populations.
A representative of the Marine Stewardship Council, noting that his organization is on a mission to make overfishing history, highlighted partnerships with civil society and the corporate sector. Fishing is crucial to communities around the world, from Fiji to France, he said, adding that illegal unreported and unregulated fishing remains a major threat to fish stocks. Condemning the exploitation of marine resources for short-term economic gains, he said that when managed sustainably, fish stocks are the ultimate renewable food resource. Sustainable fishing should be at the heart of the blue food revolution, he stressed.
The representative of the Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute called for an immediate ban on deep-sea mining, for the conclusion of a legally binding global treaty for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and for reform of regional fishery organizations. He said many speakers at the Conference spoke about food security for people, but no one talked about food security for whales, sharks and fish. To the Conference organizers, he said civil society should be heard first, not last.
The representative of Ørsted said that ocean-based activities such as renewable energy can contribute over 20 per cent of the emissions reduction needed to keep the world on the 1.5°C pathway. However, the oceans are not in good health, which is required to deliver these solutions. Calling on those present to examine how offshore wind can be a force for good ocean health, she urged an unprecedented expansion of offshore wind that is not a race to the bottom but, rather, one to the top that prioritizes the protection of ecosystems. She added a call for the international community to utilize the energy transition to deliver positive energy outcomes for marine biodiversity.
A representative of Blue Ventures said that fishers are the best scientists of the ocean. Half a billion people are dependent on small-scale fishing, he said noting that they are the biggest users of the ocean but are rarely represented in decision-making. Community-based management of fisheries is an efficient and equitable solution, he said, noting how small-scale fishers are forced to compete against large fishing companies. There is a future in which oceans and fishers can both thrive, he said, calling on delegates to prioritize preferential access rights for small-scale fishers to the waters on which they depend on. The international community must no longer defend bottom-trawling, which is incompatible with a sustainable ocean, he said, stressing that "there is nothing small about small-scale fishers", because they have the global reach and knowledge to reshape humanity's relationship with oceans.
The representative of Stiftelsen Stockholm International Water Institute called on decision-makers to invest more in science, education and data to understand the source-to-sea continuum. It is important to engage actors in the upstream of coastal marine areas, as well as incentivize the holistic management of terrestrial and marine activities, and catalyse source-sea thinking in the design and planning of policy and projects.
The representative of the BlueBio Alliance, noting the ocean's magnificence and diversity, said that such diversity allows for the discovery of hundreds of new marine compounds every year. New technology is being researched to increase the quality and viability of these compounds, and society now has the chance to decouple the production of commodities from extractive practices. Portugal is one of the front-runners in the blue biotech field, and the Alliance coordinates research institutes, the growing start-up community and corporations from various sectors looking to add value to their products. This innovative model can be recreated in other countries, he assured.
A representative of Conseil des Innu de Ekuanitshit, noting that he belongs to an indigenous nation on the north of the Saint Lawrence coast, said the area is connected to the Atlantic. Salmon and caribou are part of his people's culture, he said, pointing to the negative impact of commercial fishing and maritime traffic in the Saint Lawrence River. Expressing concern about climate change and rising temperatures in the Gulf waters, he noted that hydrocarbon is affecting salmon migratory routes. Recalling the oil spill that soiled a huge part of his community's hunting grounds, he appealed for better protection of closed-off seas and migratory species, adding that marine protected areas must be truly protected, especially from mining and oil exploration.
The representative of GreenX Telemechanics Limited stressed the need for innovation and technology development for the health of the ocean, as 3 million water bottles will be consumed and discarded during the three minutes of her talk at the Conference. Her organization plants trees that are degradable, an alternative to plastics.
A representative of Live Ocean, saying that "I am the ocean and the ocean is me," acknowledged the First Nations of the land, greeting the past, present and future of everyone in the audience. Noting that she hails from New Zealand, she said that the oceanic waters of that country are vast, teeming with marine species. Live Ocean represents the commitment of hundreds of leaders in the ocean community, she said, underscoring the importance of science in finding solutions to secure the health of the ocean.
The representative of Energias de Portugal S.A., a global energy major and Europe's third greenest utility, deriving 75 per cent of energy from renewable sources, said the company is headquartered in Lisbon and operates in 28 markets worldwide. Every investment made today in green energy will allow for energy independence and affordable prices tomorrow, he said, stressing that all sectors must play a role in achieving a net-zero economy. The company is committed to investing in clean energy for all and leading the way in cutting carbon dioxide emissions, decentralizing generation and electrifying transport. It has committed €24 billion in the energy transition, is set to have zero contributions from coal to revenues by 2025, and will establish a portfolio of 100 per cent renewables by 2030.
A representative of Blue Forest, explaining that his organization is a United Arab Emirates-based developer of mangrove restoration projects around the world, said that it is bringing 200,000 mangroves back to life. From his perspective "knee-deep in marshland", it is clear that the state of coastal mangrove forests is much worse than thought, he said, noting they are disappearing at alarming rates. "In our children's life, there could be no more mangroves left," he warned, adding that mangroves are a bridge between communities and oceans. Calling for improved satellite imaging and data collection, he stressed the need to empower local communities.
The representative of RARE, noting that he is a mayor in Honduras, recalled that when he was elected, he saw marine habitats dying and decided to work with a group of fishermen to establish a "no take" area. Effectively managing marine resources is difficult but possible, he said, describing a global network of mayors in coastal areas as a powerful movement.
A representative of the National Oceanography Centre, noting that it is one of the world's leading centers of ocean science, promoted the critical role of the ocean-climate-biodiversity nexus, both in threats and solutions. Marine science research is extremely important to finding nature-based solutions, he said, highlighting the importance of global ocean sensing. This is not a passive act, he said; rather, it is the beginning of understanding oceans and learning where and how to act. Stressing the need for investment in coastal and island communities, he said that multi-hazard warning systems and data-sharing will deliver informed change.
The representative of the International Confederation of Catholic Charities, noting that she is from Tonga, said Mother Earth is crying because of the harm humans inflicted on her. Humanity has been inconsiderate of its creation. Human bodies are made up of Earth's elements, she explained, calling for a ban on deep sea mining, which constitutes an attack on Mother Earth.
A representative of MUN Impact, noting that regimes and priorities change, but the ocean remains, warned that acidification and pollution means that oceans may not sustain human life tomorrow. His organization educates youth across countries on Sustainable Development Goal 14, he said, highlighting the importance of forging a binding instrument on combating plastic pollution and encouraging the blue investment space. "The solutions are right in front of us," he said, pointing to the 350 million ocean-linked jobs that are at stake.
The representative of the International Union of Socialist Youth cautioned against two disruptive practices, namely trawl fishing and deep sea mining, which cause irreversible seafloor damage. "If the ocean dies, so do we," he warned.
A representative of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, noting that he is an indigenous leader from the west coast of Canada, said that in 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed a reconciliation framework with his community. Stressing the importance of a marine protected area network under indigenous stewardship, he called for urgent action and practical models for collaborative ecosystem-based management. His community established one of the first indigenous-managed marine protected areas in the world, he said, noting that it is grounded in deep local knowledge and traditional laws. It provides a blueprint for sustainably managing the marine area, while supporting food security and ensuring the continuity of indigenous culture. "Indigenous communities like mine are leading the way when it comes to ocean protection," he said, calling on world leaders to partner with such communities.
The representative of SWEN Blue Ocean said his organization has created a Blue Ocean Venture Capital Fund to support entrepreneurs and ocean start-ups to mount a fight against overfishing, marine pollution, and climate change. It has attracted private investors and achieved high returns, he said, also drawing attention to the "1000 Ocean Startups" coalition, which has created the Ocean Impact Navigator, a framework designed to better assist ocean innovators in measuring and sharing their impact.
A youth delegate from United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Climate Change and Environment of that country, said it is proactively working to protect the ecosystem of its marine environment. The country has already achieved target 14.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, on conserving at least 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2020, she said, noting that it has implemented numerous measures to manage coastal and marine ecosystems. The United Arab Emirates evaluates the effectiveness of its marine protected areas regularly, she said, adding that it has scored well above the global average. The current focus is on restoration and enhancement of the blue carbon ecosystem, she said, adding that the country is also planting 100 million mangroves by 2030 and rehabilitating the degraded ecosystem by restoring coral reefs. Also stressing the importance of sustainable aquaculture, she pointed to policies to cut down on single use plastic and eventually eliminate it fully.
Right of Reply
In the exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Mauritius expressed deep disappointment that the United Kingdom continues to ignore the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding the Chagos Archipelago. He said the archipelago has always been a territory of his country, urging the United Kingdom to withdraw its administration and complete the decolonization of Mauritius.