Oceans Action Day, Other COP 22 Events Launch Initiatives, Propose Roadmap for Oceans and Climate
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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COP 22 was the first time an Oceans Day was officially included in the UNFCC’s Global Action Agenda alongside agriculture, energy, forests, transport and water.

IOC-UNESCO, UNEP, the Global Ocean Forum, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and the University of Delaware released a report, titled ‘Toward a Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021’.

The ‘Because the Ocean’ event, presented by the Pavilion of France, welcomed progress made since the first Because the Ocean Declaration in Paris, France, and invited additional countries to sign the second 'Because the Ocean' Declaration.

18 November 2016: At the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, numerous events, including the first-ever Oceans Action Day, underscored the role of the ocean in mitigating climate change and regulating the climate while recognizing the challenges that ocean acidification and habitat degradation pose to the conservation and sustainable development of oceans and the livelihoods and well-being of coastal and island communities. UN agencies and others also launched roadmaps, initiatives and publications related to oceans and climate change.

The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convened from 7-19 November 2016, in Marrakech, Morocco. COP 22 was the first time an Oceans Day was officially included in the UNFCC’s Global Action Agenda alongside agriculture, energy, forests, transport and water.

Oceans Action Day featured a high-level showcase segment with sessions on ‘Oceans and Climate: Solutions to the core issues (food security, mitigation, adaptation, building resilience)’ and ‘Oceans and Climate: Science Solutions;’ as well as dialogues on adaptation, mitigation and access to financing. The event featured ministers, scientists, private sector representatives and policy makers who elaborated on policies, action plans, initiatives and commitments to implement the Paris Agreement, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 14 (life below water) and work towards fulfilling their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella presented the European Commission’s (EC) Joint Communication on ‘International oceans governance,’ which proposes a list of 50 actions to make the oceans safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed.

Commitments announced at Oceans Action Day include: the African Package for Climate-Resilient Ocean Economies, a US$500-900 million initiative announced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support African ocean economies, build coastal resilience to climate change and link adaptation and mitigation programmes; and the Blue Belt Initiative, announced by Morocco, to build coastal communities resilience and promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture throughout value chains, in line with SDG 14. Partners also showcased these commitments during a High-Level Event on Global Climate Action (GCA).

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Ocean Forum (GOF), Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and the University of Delaware released a report titled ‘Toward a Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021.’ The Roadmap proposes a five-year vision for action on oceans and climate and policy recommendations for COP 22 and beyond.

Roadmap recommendations include: recognizing the central role of oceans in climate and the need to implement stringent reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to avoid disastrous consequences on coastal and island communities, marine ecosystems and ocean chemistry; further developing and applying mitigation measures using the ocean, such as blue carbon policies, reducing carbon dioxide from ships, and ocean-based carbon capture and storage (CCS); implementing ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) strategies through integrated coastal and ocean management institutions to reduce vulnerability of coastal and ocean ecosystems and human settlements and build management capacity, preparedness, resilience and adaptive capacities of coastal and island communities; developing and supporting measures to address issues associated with displacement of coastal and island populations as a result of climate change; providing sufficient funding for adaptation and mitigation efforts in coastal and small island developing States (SIDS); and providing technical and financial assistance to SIDS, developing countries and economies in transition to build capacity on a number of issues.

As part of efforts to advance the Roadmap’s recommendations, a multi-stakeholder partnership among governments, UN agencies, civil society, academia and the private sector launched the Global Strategic Action Initiative on Oceans and Climate at COP 22. The event discussed how to operationalize the Roadmap’s recommendations, including development of targets, indicators and timelines and mobilization of resources. Participants further discussed a knowledge management system and reporting mechanism to report annually on progress to the COP.

Also on commitments, the ‘Because the Ocean’ event, presented by the Pavilion of France, welcomed progress made since the first Because the Ocean Declaration in Paris, France, and invited additional countries to sign the second ‘Because the Ocean’ Declaration. Participants underscored the importance of actions to protect the ocean, including for regulating the climate and preserving ecosystems and livelihoods. Heraldo Munoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, noted progress in inserting oceans issues in UNFCCC negotiations since 2015. María Amparo Martínez Arroyo, General Director of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, Mexico, noted the need to undertake more concrete action at all levels to link all UN conventions and all goals to save the ocean. Anote Tong, Conservation International, hoped for an instrument similar to REDD+ to protect oceans.

Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Palau, Peru, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain and Sweden joined the 23 countries that signed the Declaration in Paris, France, in 2015. The 2016 Declaration calls on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to comprehensively address the biological aspects of ocean-climate interactions and socioeconomic impacts in its special report on ocean and the cryosphere, which is expected to be released in 2019. The Declaration also, inter alia: encourages UNFCCC Parties to consider climate impacts on marine ecosystems and livelihoods and economic activities in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and periodic reviews; and commits to address the climate and ocean interlinkages at the UN Conference on SDG 14.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a report on the role of marine protected areas (MPAs) in climate adaptation and mitigation. ‘MPAs and climate change: Adaptation and mitigation synergies, opportunities and challenges’ calls for better management of coastal and marine areas and creation of a comprehensive network of resilient MPAs to preserve marine biodiversity and ocean services and increase climate resilience, and underscores MPAs potential to serve as “sentinel sites for early warning and ground-truthing of trends in marine climate change.”

Other ocean-related events addressed, inter alia, scientific and political capacity to respond to ocean acidification, and incorporating blue carbon into nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. [IISD RS Coverage of Oceans Action Day] [IISD RS Summary of Oceans Action Day] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on EC Communication on Oceans] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Toward a Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021] [Global Ocean Forum Website] [UNFCCC Press Release on Global Climate Action Event] [IISD RS Coverage of Because the Ocean Event] [SPREP Press Release] [IUCN Press Release on MPAs] [MPAs and climate change] [IUCN Press Release on Climate and Oceans][IISD RS Coverage of Ocean Acidification Event] [IISD RS Coverage of Blue Carbon Event] [IISD RS Sources]

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