UN, New York City Collaborate for World Ocean Festival
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A collaboration between the UN and the City of New York, the first-ever World Ocean Festival will precede the UN Ocean Conference.

The co-facilitators for intergovernmental consultations on the Ocean Conference issued a revised zero draft of the 'Call for Action,' for discussion in consultations on 24, 25 and 27 April 2017.

11 April 2017: A collaboration between the UN and the City of New York, the first-ever World Ocean Festival will precede the UN Ocean Conference, and will feature an ‘Ocean March’ of sailing vessels around ten nautical miles of Manhattan and Brooklyn (New York City boroughs) as well as an ‘Ocean Village’ in Gantry State Park in Long Island City showcasing art, innovation and exhibits on ocean and climate action.

The Festival was announced at a joint press briefing by Penny Abeywardena, the Commissioner of the (New York City) Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, and Peter Thompson, President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The Festival will take place on 4 June 2017, followed by the 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, convening from 5-9 June 2017, at UN Headquarters.

Abeywardena said that through the Festival’s gatherings, people will “come together to catalyze specific steps we can take as a community to preserve our oceans and engage our citizens and, in particular, our young people.”

Abeywardena and Thompson emphasized both events’ focus on action. Abeywardena said that through the Festival’s gatherings, people will “come together to catalyze specific steps we can take as a community to preserve our oceans and engage our citizens and, in particular, our young people.” Thomson called attention to the Registry of voluntary commitments to action, an anticipated outcome of the UN Ocean Conference. He pointed out that the UN is urging all stakeholders to register commitments to “reverse the cycle of decline in which the ocean has been caught.”

According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), 38 commitments have been registered, focusing on a variety of SDG 14 targets. The Governments of Belgium, Fiji, Grenada, Indonesia, Palau and Sweden registered 13 of these commitments, addressing issues such as marine litter, ecosystem preservation, biodiversity protection and targets for marine protected areas (MPAs). The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and its 37-member national ship owners’ associations vowed to reduce CO2 emissions from the global shipping industry. These and other voluntary commitments will feed into the Conference’s Partnership Dialogues, which will highlight concrete solutions by all stakeholders that can meet challenges and fill gaps in SDG 14 implementation.

In other preparations for the Ocean Conference, the co-facilitators for intergovernmental consultations on the Ocean Conference issued a revised zero draft of the ‘Call for Action,’ following the first round of consultations among Member States from 20-22 March 2017. In their letter introducing the revised text, co-facilitators Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore, and Àlvaro Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal, note that the next round of consultations on the draft will take place on 24, 25 and 27 April 2017.

The revised draft, dated 7 April, is titled ‘Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action.’ The three-page, 15-paragraph document includes a list of 22 actions to be taken “on an urgent basis, including by building on existing institutions and partnerships.”

On 6 April, Thomson circulated a Guidance Note for the seven Partnership Dialogues that will take place during the Ocean Conference. The note indicates that: the Dialogues will interactive and multi-stakeholder in nature, and are open to all participants of the Conference, who will have designated seating; the Dialogues will focus on concrete recommendations to support the implementation of SDG 14, building on existing successful partnerships and stimulating innovative and concrete new ones; the Partnership Dialogues will begin with a panel discussion, followed by an interactive debate among participants; for speakers from intergovernmental organizations and other entities and the UN system, as well as major groups and other relevant actors, priority will be given to those who present voluntary commitments that have been registered in the online Registry; and summaries of the Dialogues will be prepared by the Co-Chairs for presentation at the close of the plenary meeting and for inclusion in the final report of the Conference.

In his letter accompanying the Note, Thomson encourages all Member States and other stakeholders to register initiatives that aim to contribute to the implementation of SDG 14, saying the registry will be central to implementing SDG 14 in the years ahead. [UN Press Release on World Ocean Festival] [UN Radio News on Festival] [DESA News on Conference Commitments] [Revised Zero Draft of Call for Action] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on First Consultations on Zero Draft] [Guidance Note on Partnership Dialogues] [The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments] [Ocean Conference Provisional Agenda]


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