30 October 2018: The fifth Our Ocean Conference generated 305 commitments to maintain the sustainability of our oceans. Commitments focus on the Conference’s six themes: marine protected areas (MPAs); sustainable fisheries; marine pollution; climate change; sustainable blue economy; and maritime security. The US$10.7 billion in pledges represent commitments from a wide range of actors, with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the corporate sector announcing the majority of the commitments.

The Conference convened from 29-30 October in Bali, Indonesia, and focused on the theme, ‘Our Ocean, Our Legacy,’ with participants reflecting on choices and actions to maintain the sustainability of ocean resources and to preserve ocean health, as heritage presented for our children and grandchildren. The 2018 Conference also featured the third ‘Our Ocean, Our Legacy Youth Leadership Summit.’

Indonesia announced 23 commitments, amounting to over US$80 million. In addition, President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, said the government has met its commitment of conserving 20 million hectares of its sea, two years earlier than its target date of 2020. Indonesia’s commitments focus on improving management effectiveness of existing MPAs, designating additional MPAs and protecting sensitive marine ecosystems, among other actions.

The EU made 23 new commitments across the six themes of the Our Ocean Conference, representing approximately 300 million Euros. On the blue economy, the EU announced, inter alia: joint action with China on marine data; a research and innovation agenda for the Black Sea basin; promotion of ‘Blue Labs’ in the EU to research and develop products or services in support of the blue economy; four regional projects under its satellite monitoring programme, bringing together 18 African countries and the African Union (AU) to develop services related to fisheries and aquaculture, coastal vulnerability and risk management, coastal ecosystems monitoring, ship trafficking and development of regional ocean forecast centers in Africa and the Indian Ocean; and support for the sustainable development of Seychelles’ fisheries sector. The EU will also enhance cooperation with South Africa and Brazil towards an All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance that will assess ecosystems, map the seafloor and develop innovative ecosystem-based aquaculture systems with the aim of having over 1,000 research teams working from Antarctica to the Arctic by 2020.

On marine protection, the EU announced, inter alia: projects to protect marine ecosystems and promote exchange of knowledge on effective management of MPAs between the Atlantic and Southeast Asia; a regional support programme for the sustainable management of natural resources in Pacific Overseas Countries and Territories; and a new version of the ‘Digital Observatory for Protected Areas’ (DOPA), an online database and information system on terrestrial, marine and coastal protected areas.

The Indonesian Government has met its commitment of conserving 20 million hectares of its sea, two years earlier than its target data of 2020.

On marine pollution, the EU announced, inter alia: a project to reduce plastic waste and marine litter in South East Asia, with the aim of supporting a transition to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) of plastic and reduction of marine litter; the upgrade of its ‘Floating Macro Litter Monitoring Application’ to make information on marine pollution from rivers accessible to the general public; and support for a waste management programme for the Pacific countries to address marine litter, biodiversity conservation and health and well-being. As part of its new plastics strategy, the EU announced it has initiated new rules on packaging to improve plastic recycling and increase demand for recycled plastic; measures to curb plastic waste and littering; and development of harmonized rules for defining and labeling biodegradable and compostable plastics, among other actions.

On climate change, the EU committed to start designing new ocean forecasting models to support the further development of the its satellite monitoring programme. Improved forecasting is expected to help the EU plan ahead and support decision making to tackle climate change impacts and build resilience to climate risks, including coastal erosion, floods and storm surges.

The US made 15 commitments, including two five-year programmes in Madagascar to improve community-based management of marine and coastal resources and support improvements in the enabling environment for community-based biodiversity conservation and sustainable development approaches and the ‘Fish Right Program’ in the Philippines to increase fish stocks by improving fisheries management and building the resilience of fishing communities. In Central America, the US will support biodiversity conservation in targeted coastal marine areas and upland ecosystems in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Additional commitments will provide support to, inter alia: the Tropical Pacific Observing Systems (TPOS) 2020 Project to improve understanding of the ocean’s role in climate and weather and of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO); the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center (OA-ICC); efforts to tackle illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, piracy and human trafficking; efforts to promote sustainable waste management systems to prevent marine debris from entering the ocean; and research initiatives on coastal wetland ecosystems.

On marine pollution, many countries committed to reduce waste and improve waste management to reduce marine plastic pollution in the oceans, including Chile, the EU, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands and Thailand. Norway will assist developing countries to combat marine litter and microplastics through the World Bank’s fund PROBLUE. The World Bank committed over US$1 billion over the next seven years to advance sustainable oceans and the blue economy, including US$250 million to address marine litter and pollution.

Several companies announced plans to increase the proportion of recycled plastic in their materials, in line with a global commitment to eliminate plastic waste, launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment). Danone-Aqua committed to increase the proportion of recycled plastic in its bottles to 50 percent by 2025 and to ensure all plastic packaging is 100 percent recyclable. Nestle will make its packaging 100 percent recyclable or reusable by 2025. The Coca-Cola Company will contribute to a circular economy by making its packaging 100 percent recyclable by 2025 and including 50 percent recycled content across the company’s primary packaging globally by 2030. Unilever will ensure 100 percent of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and increase recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 35 percent by 2025.

Numerous countries and other stakeholders announced MPA commitments, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Panama, Peru, Poland and Sweden. New Caledonia will protect its seamounts by the end of 2019. Papua New Guinea (PNG) announced plans to triple its MPA coverage and to designate national marine sanctuaries in ten percent of its offshore waters by 2025, and to establish MPAs in ten percent of its territorial waters and coastline by 2025. The UK will triple its current targets to ensure that 30 percent of the ocean is designated as an MPA by 2030. The UK will also publish a cross-Government International Ocean Strategy by the end of 2018 that sets out the country’s contribution to achieving SDG 14 (life below water) through global governance and international cooperation. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) committed US$50 million to create, expand and improve the effectiveness of over eight million hectares of MPAs as part of its new cycle of funding.

On sustainable fisheries, Chile committed to protect 98 percent of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from bottom trawling. The Netherlands announced additional support for the development and publication of the Seafood Stewardship Index, explaining that this commitment will contribute to SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 14 and 15 (life on land). Norway will support science for better management of ecosystems and fisheries, including through a three-month research cruise in Antarctica. Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Ireland, Japan, Peru and Thailand also announced commitments.

Our Ocean Conference 2018 continued a tradition of tracking past commitments and encouraging new commitments and partnerships to deliver multiple objectives. In addition, the Conference introduced the Our Ocean Commitment Registry, to facilitate tracking and review of past and new commitments. [2018 Commitments] [EC Press Release] [US Press Release] [Our Ocean Press Release on Indonesia MPA Target] [Our Ocean Conference Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 2017 Our Ocean Conference]