As environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper, “There’s only word for what we’re doing, and that is “insane”. On an ocean planet, we are wrecking the ocean.”
Our very existence as a species depends on the health of our oceans. It is good to see that this realisation is starting to dawn on leaders and policymakers at the highest levels of global society. The United Nations recently convened its first ever Ocean Conference with the aim of supporting the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. This high-level conference was the first step towards a solutions-focused strategy which will engage national government, local government, NGOs and the business sector to work together to reverse the decline of our oceans.
Perhaps the single largest successful outcome of the conference was the consensus achieved that SDG 14, and by extension the health of our oceans, should be a central component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The outcomes of the conference can be largely grouped into three categories:
- an inter-governmentally agreed Call for ActionUN member states reconfirmed their commitment to the implementation of SDG 14
- UN members states agreed to mobilise resources for the implementation of SDG 14 in keeping with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development
- a registry of voluntary commitments
- 1,328 commitments towards the implementation of SDG 14 were made by governments and other stakeholders
- the commitments include topics such as the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) action on plastic and other marine debris as well as funding for scientific research and capacity-building activities
- key messages from partnership dialogues
- participants were able to share knowledge and experience
- interlinkages between SDG 14 and the other UN Global Goals was clarified
We are pleased to have contributed to the success of the conference by making our own voluntary commitments in support of SDG 14. In short, KIMO agreed to:
- raise awareness of the issue of microplastic emissions by developing practical advice and resources which we will distribute to local authorities.
- increase participation in the Fishing for Litter scheme by 20% by 2020
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), an organisation which seeks to remove derelict fishing gear from the oceans, also registered a set of voluntary commitments, which we, as a GGGI project partner, wholeheartedly support.
The momentum has been created and we hope to carry this forward as we meet in Malmö, Sweden from 11-13 October 2017 for our annual conference and AGM. This year we have been invited to join in with the Life Below Water conference, a follow up to the UN Ocean conference in New York. With the high-level groundwork having been laid, this conference will focus on a smaller scale and explore how local government implementation of SDG 14 could look.
All KIMO members and KIMO guests can register for the conference and AGM on the KIMO registration page.
Non-KIMO members who are interested in attending the conference may register on the Life Below Water Conference page.
Let’s keep the ball rolling!