Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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On the penultimate day of the UN Ocean Conference, UN Member States celebrated World Oceans Day with calls for action to ensure a healthy and productive ocean for future generations.

Partnership Dialogue 6 focused on ‘Increasing Scientific Knowledge and Developing Research Capacity and Transfer of Marine Technology’.

8 June 2017: On the penultimate day of the UN Ocean Conference, UN Member States celebrated World Oceans Day with calls for action to ensure a healthy and productive ocean for future generations. Plenary sessions featured a celebration of World Oceans Day and a continuation of the general debate. A partnership dialogue focused on ‘Increasing Scientific Knowledge and Developing Research Capacity and Transfer of Marine Technology’ (Partnership Dialogue 6).

In a statement for World Oceans Day, UN Secretary-General Antònio Guterrez stressed that “caring for, and using, our oceans in sustainable ways is critical to achieve ecological and economic goals for communities everywhere” and highlighted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a framework to address ocean threats and improve people’s lives. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova observed, “We cannot manage what we cannot measure, and no single country is able to measure the myriad of changes taking place in the ocean.” Stressing that business-as-usual is not sufficient to deliver the 2030 Agenda, Bokova called for 2021-2030 to become the International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development “to provide Governments, the scientific community, civil society and all other actors with a framework for coordinating and consolidating the observations and research needed to achieve SDG 14.” Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Cristiana Paşca Palmer welcomed steps to ensure the effective management of coastal and marine areas, stressing “we are at a point where we can change the tide on the oceans.” UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson highlighted the more than 1,000 commitments submitted to the Conference’s Registry of Voluntary Commitments, emphasizing the conference as a turning point towards protecting the ocean for posterity.

World Oceans Day also featured presentations from oceanographers, entrepreneurs, astronauts, artists and youth representatives, among others. Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, urged going further than SDG 14 targets on marine protected areas (MPAs) and noted that a new treaty on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), with teeth and vision, could be the “Paris Agreement for the ocean.” In a video message, UN messenger of peace Leonardo DiCaprio, called for the conclusion of a “Paris Agreement for the ocean” with ambitious, measurable goals to protect it from unlimited exploitation, to the benefit of all. Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation CEO Terry Tamminen announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mexico to try to save the vaquita, the world’s most endangered mammal, through a permanent ban on gill-nets in the region, enhanced enforcement of illegal fishing legislation, and an ex situ repopulation programme.

Adidas Executive Board Member Eric Liedtke announced that Adidas would make one million pairs of ocean plastic shoes, equivalent to 11 million plastic bottles in 2017, and five million pairs in 2018

Announcing the “Run for the Oceans” global event to be held on 8 June 2017, Adidas Executive Board Member Eric Liedtke announced that Adidas would make one million pairs of ocean plastic shoes, equivalent to 11 million plastic bottles in 2017, and five million pairs in 2018; and called for private-sector leadership and partnerships to eliminate virgin polyester from the supply chain and replace it with ocean plastic. Bye Bye Plastic Bags Bali co-founders Melati and Isabel Wijsen reported mobilizing over 12,000 people to collect 40 tonnes of garbage along the coastline in one day, resulting in a Bali government commitment to ban plastic bags by 2018. They affirmed that “youth are only 17% of the global population, but 100% of the future.” Artist and photographer Chris Jordan introduced a video showing the effects of plastics on seabirds on Midway, the island that is furthest away from any continent.

During the general debate, UN Member States announced commitments to eliminate marine plastics, expand MPA coverage, reduce or ban single-use plastics, and integrate climate action. Countries committed to, inter alia: eliminate marine plastics from coastlines by 2025 (Ghana); implement comprehensive marine spatial planning (MSP) by 2020 (Vanuatu); protect 20% of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ waters by 2020 as part of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative; expand MPA coverage from 6% to 17% by 2020 (Greece); classify French Polynesia’s entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as an MPA called “the Great Far Ocean” MPA; and create a new MPA and fight marine plastic debris (Costa Rica). India unveiled an India-UN development fund to support early warning capacities in Pacific SIDS. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines supported appointment of a Secretary-General’s special representative on the ocean.

Trinidad and Tobago called for an intergovernmental conference (IGC) on an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on BBNJ to be convened before the end of 2018. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also supported an IGC on an ILBI for BBNJ.

In a statement, Indigenous Women urged inclusion of indigenous women in efforts to protect oceans and mitigate climate change, including: enabling their participation in sustainable consumption practices to prevent marine litter; ensuring coastal indigenous women’s access to technology and knowledge; and implementing the IOC Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology.

Partnership Dialogue 6 focused on increasing scientific knowledge, developing research capacity and transferring marine technology in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Executive Director Johan Kuylenstierna invited a discussion on how capacity building and technology transfer actually meet developing countries’ needs, rather than externally identified priorities. Bangladesh underlined technology transfer and market access as key tools to build capacities for ocean research and sustainable marine resource management. China called for promoting the implementation of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC) Criteria and Guidelines and transferring technology for new marine industries.

The UK highlighted the Group of 7’s (G-7) commitment to implementing SDG 14, including through support for global ocean observation, especially on climate change and biodiversity; and support for an enhanced system of ocean assessment through the UN Regular Process. Germany said it is investing €4 billion over ten years in marine research focusing on sea level rise, ocean acidification and land-based pollution. Canada showcased its CAD220 million investment in ocean surveying. The US called for joint efforts to develop a comprehensive ocean floor map. Portugal committed to expand knowledge, data sharing and deep ocean observation under its Blue Fund initiative. UNESCO-IOC representative Vladimir Ryabinin called for unified data collection protocols. OLSPS Analytics CEO Amos Barkai cautioned against data over-collection and a “culture of misreporting” in the fisheries sector, noting challenges in processing and managing data. World Ocean Council suggested using the private sector’s offshore infrastructure for collecting ocean and climate data, offering to broker relationships between willing companies, governments and scientists.

Participants further addressed, among other issues, the need for: well-funded, independent research, and better use and transfer of existing technologies; science to defend long-term societal interests; the role of science for all SDGs’ implementation; the importance of understanding marine ecosystems’ and species’ responses to climate change; and fisheries training programs to support sustainable ocean management. [IISD RS Coverage of UN Ocean Conference, 8 June] [IISD RS Video Summaries from Ocean Conference][UN Press Release on World Oceans Day] [UN Meeting Coverage] [Conference Programme] [Registry of Voluntary Commitments] [UN Secretary-General Statement] [UNESCO Webpage on World Oceans Day] [UNEP Press Release]


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