Co-Facilitators Issue Zero Draft of Ocean ‘Call for Action’
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The co-facilitators for the preparatory process for the UN Ocean Conference have circulated the zero draft of the Call for Action, titled 'Our Oceans, Our Future.' The draft will be considered at the first round of intergovernmental consultations from 20-22 March 2017, in New York, US.

10 March 2017: The co-facilitators for the preparatory process for the UN Ocean Conference have circulated the zero draft of the ‘Call for Action,’ which will be negotiated ahead of the Conference for adoption by UN Member States. The draft text, titled ‘Our Oceans, Our Future: Call for Action,’ notes that results from the Conference should be submitted as an input to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to contribute to the follow-up and review process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The UN Ocean Conference, also called the ‘High-level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’, will convene from 5-9 June 2017, in New York, US. The Conference will include eight plenary meetings, a special event commemorating World Oceans Day, and seven partnership dialogues. It will result in three outcomes: an intergovernmental declaration in the form of the Call for Action; summaries of the partnership dialogues; and a list of voluntary commitments supporting implementation of SDG 14.

The zero draft was prepared by co-facilitators for the preparatory process, Àlvaro Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal, and Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore, following discussions during a preparatory meeting for the Conference held from 15-16 February 2017. The text will be considered at intergovernmental consultations convening from 20-22 March 2017, in New York, US.

The text notes that measures to implement SDG 14 should build upon, and not duplicate or undermine, existing legal instruments, processes or entities. It highlights the importance of consistency with international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which provides the legal framework for all the activities in the oceans and seas. The text also outlines the need to step up discussions on the development of an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under UNCLOS so that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) can decide on the convening and on the start date of an intergovernmental conference on this instrument by the end of its 72nd session.

According to the draft, all stakeholders should work in concert to take actions on an urgent basis, including: approaching the implementation of SDG 14 in an integrated way and promoting policies that account for interlinkages among SDG 14 targets, and synergies between SDG 14 and the other Goals; enhancing the involvement of all stakeholders, including local communities, indigenous peoples, women and youth; promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships; integrating SDG 14 into national development plans and strategies, and strengthening policy coherence and coordination; and developing comprehensive strategies to raise awareness of the state of the oceans, and supporting plans to foster education regarding ocean sustainability issues.

The draft stresses the need to: invest greater resources in marine scientific research; accelerate action to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities; develop sustainable consumption and production patterns and adopt the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle); implement long-term strategies to reduce the use of plastics, with the aim of phasing out plastic bags, single use plastics and the use of primary microplastic particles in products; strengthen the use of appropriate area-based management tools, namely marine protected areas and other integrated, cross-sectoral approaches; and enhance the sharing of data to better understand the relationship between climate and the health and productivity of the oceans.

The draft also calls for: developing effective adaptation and mitigation measures to build resilience to ocean acidification and harmful impacts of climate change; ending illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destructive fishing practices; accelerating further work and compatibility of efforts on the development of systems for full traceability of fish products; strengthening capacity building and technical assistance provided to fishers, in particular small scale and artisanal fishers in developing countries; completing “without further delay” the ongoing negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to strengthen disciplines on subsidies in the fisheries sector; stepping up efforts under relevant international financial institutions and the donor community to provide financial support, technical assistance, and capacity building, especially to countries in special situations, in particular small island developing States (SIDS) and the least developed countries (LDCs), and supporting the promotion and strengthening of oceans-based economies in these countries.

Also in preparation for the Conference, Wu Hongbo, Conference Secretary-General and head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), has invited UN Member States and other stakeholders to submit inputs for the concept papers being prepared on the theme of each partnership dialogue during the Conference. Inputs are due by 24 March 2017. [Co-Facilitators’ Letter and Zero Draft of Call for Action] [Conference Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Input for Concept Papers][SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Ocean Conference Registry for Commitments]


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