The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment) announced a voluntary commitment to remove or reduce harmful fisheries subsidies.
The commitment is expected to support progress towards three Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets as well as to support efforts related to SDGs on food security, responsible consumption and production, and partnerships for the Goals.
6 June 2017: The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment) announced a voluntary commitment to remove or reduce harmful fisheries subsidies, which the UN estimates could amount to US$35 billion. The UN entities made the announcement on the second day of the UN Ocean Conference, which is focusing on efforts to achieve the targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 (life below water) and related SDGs and targets.
Three SDG 14 targets focus on the trade-related aspects of fisheries: Target 14.4 on fighting against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; Target 14.6 on phasing out certain fisheries subsidies; and Target b on providing access for small-scale artisanal fishermen to marine resources and markets. In their commitment, UNCTAD, FAO and UN Environment stress that addressing and removing harmful fisheries subsidies has been “a complicated and thorny” issue that requires a holistic approach to advancing sustainability and development.
In a joint statement during the 14th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, titled ‘Regulating Fisheries Subsidies must be an integral part of the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,’ UNCTAD, FAO and UN Environment committed to support member States’ efforts to meet SDG Target 14.6 by identifying four minimum outcomes. These outcomes focus on: provisions for transparent notification of all relevant fisheries subsidies; prohibition of subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity and those that undermine sustainable development, food and nutritional security; instruments and tools to deter introduction of new harmful subsidies; and special attention and treatment to developing countries, in particular the least developed countries (LDCs) and SIDS.
The commitment stresses a “strong correlation with overcapacity and overfishing” and fisheries subsidies, and emphasizes that trade and trade policies can facilitate a transition to sustainable ocean-based economies.
The commitment stresses a “strong correlation with overcapacity and overfishing” and fisheries subsidies, and emphasizes that trade and trade policies can facilitate a transition to sustainable ocean-based economies through increasing resource efficiency, improving the environment, enhancing inclusiveness and creating green business opportunities. These aims have synergies with SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals).
The commitment, titled ‘Sustainable Trade in Fisheries-Assisting Member States to Implement Effective, Inclusive and Sustainable Policies,’ further emphasizes the willingness of UNCTAD, FAO and UN Environment to work with countries and donors to provide capacity building and technical expertise to shift towards more sustainable and resource efficient pathways. This commitment is one of 855 voluntary commitments listed in the Conference’s Registry of Voluntary Commitments, as of 7 June.
The UN Ocean Conference is convening at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 5-9 June 2017. [UN Press Release] [UNCTAD Press Release] [UNCTAD/FAO/UNEP Commitment] [IISD RS Coverage of UN Ocean Conference] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Fisheries Subsidies]