2017 March 20 17:43
On 15 March, in collaboration with the Swedish Government, WMU hosted a seminar entitled Save Our Ocean: The Ocean Conference and Sustainable Development Goal 14 - Linking Policy, Industry and Education for Sustainable Partnerships. The invitation only event brought together nearly 200 participants to focus on the mobilization of countries and all other actors to achieve the targets under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and seas. The seminar also highlighted the upcoming United Nations Ocean Conference that will be held 5-9 June in New York.
Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU President, delivered welcoming remarks and highlighted the oceans’ key role as climate regulators, as support for food security and human health and as engines for economic growth. “Oceans are under severe pressure due to overexploitation, pollution, increasing human activities and climate change. This undermines the vital role of oceans in the world’s economies and societies and risks destroying life-sustaining ecosystems. As the oceans are interconnected, it is important to work on their good governance, nationally, regionally and globally in order to deliver on the commitments made in Agenda 2030, in particular SDG 14 on the sustainable use of the oceans...The oceans are the common heritage of mankind - it is time for action,” she stated.
The keynote speaker was Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Isabella Lövin, who serves as the co-President of the upcoming United Nations Ocean Conference. The Governments of Fiji and Sweden have taken the initiative to hold the Oceans Conference to focus on the implementation of Goal 14.
Deputy Prime Minister Lövin described the climate change threats to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the warming in the Arctic as alarms that we must heed to take action now because tomorrow it will be too late. She emphasized that the Oceans Conference is not about negotiating new commitments, but about implementing what has already been agreed upon to end overfishing, eliminate illegal fishing, protect marine and coastal areas, reduce plastic litter and other sources of marine pollution, increase ocean resilience to acidification and give SIDS and least developed countries the opportunity to thrive and benefit from a sustainable blue economy. She stated, “We need more international cooperation if we are going to address the cross-boundary international problems that we have with our oceans. Not one country can do the trick by itself. We need to cooperate more, not less. The Ocean conference will be the possibility to mobilize that political will, that energy and new partnerships we need to save our oceans and it’s urgent. We cannot afford to wait another 10 or 15 years.”
Successive speakers from industry, academia, government, international organizations and civil society addressed the degradation of the ocean environment and highlighted efforts being made, and those that must still be implemented, in order to secure the future of the planet. Key themes included the need for education, collaboration, legislation, commitment and action. An overarching thread was that all of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are interconnected and dependent on each other in order to be achievable.
In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda identifying 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with SDG 14 targeting the oceans. Healthy and well-functioning oceans are essential for the elimination of poverty and for securing sustainable food supplies, as well as economic development for billions of people.