Panel Identifies Priorities for Oceans SDG
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The Permanent Mission of Fiji, Permanent Mission of Sweden and the Global Ocean Commission (GOC) held a panel discussion on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on oceans, seas and marine resources, and these resources' importance in the post-2015 development agenda.

ocean_sdg24 March 2015: The Permanent Mission of Fiji, Permanent Mission of Sweden and the Global Ocean Commission (GOC) held a panel discussion on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on oceans, seas and marine resources, and the importance of these resources’ in the post-2015 development agenda.

Addressing the event, which convened on the sidelines of the third session of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda on 24 March 2015, in New York, US, Per Thöresson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, called for a cross-sectoral perspective to find solutions to the challenges facing oceans. He said Sweden’s priorities include: combating plastic pollution; addressing linkages between climate change and ocean acidification; and protection of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Lisa Emilia Svensson, Sweden’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh Water, chaired the event and said the estimated US$3-6 trillion annual value of oceans enables a comparison with other priorities, and communication with investors.

Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji, cited the need for strong domestic and international political leadership to drive oceans governance reforms, and action programs to reverse oceans’ decline. With humanity’s approach to oceans “uncontrolled,” he said, UN-Oceans needs strengthening. Thomson also called for vigilance against watering down the proposed SDG 14. He announced a forthcoming process of triennial global oceans and seas summits, beginning in 2017, in order to “keep SDG 14 honest” and feed the results into the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and UNGA processes on accountability of the post-2015 agenda.

Andrew Hudson, former UN-Oceans coordinator, noted that the body has new terms of reference, with the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) as its focal point, the membership is expanding, and it is undertaking a mapping of organizations working on oceans activities to improve coordination.

Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador of the Seychelles on Climate Change and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Issues, stressed the causal relationships between oceans and climate change, pointing to the recent cyclone that devastated Vanuatu and has been directly linked to higher-than-average surface water. He also explained the universality of oceans, including through their links to climate trends that affect the highest peaks, rainforests around the world, and desert interiors in Africa. Jumeau concluded that the success of all the SDGs is “in the indicators.”

Antonio García Allut, President, Fundacion Lonxanet, praised the inclusion of 14.b on access of small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets. He highlighted such fishers’ role in collecting data to monitor progress on SDG 14 and its targets. Given their expertise, García said, resource conservation cannot be done with “backs turned to them.”

Rémi Parmentier, Deputy Executive Secretary, GOC Secretariat, highlighted the eight proposals in the 2014 GOC report on rescuing the oceans, and the Commission’s support for the process to develop an international, legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of high seas biodiversity. Parmentier called for the indicators for the SDGs to be policy-relevant, and expressed hope for a stand-alone goal on oceans, with strong indicators that place oceans at the heart of sustainable development, “where they belong.” [IISD RS Sources] [Global Ocean Commission Press Release]

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