10 October 2017
Fourth Our Ocean Conference Generates Over €7 Billion in Pledges
UN Photo/Martine Perret
story highlights

The EU announced more than €550 million of EU-funded initiatives at the Our Ocean Conference.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced three initiatives, which will provide over US$85 million in investments.

Many companies announced commitments to reduce the use of plastics in their products.

FAO announced a US$1 million Blue Growth Initiative to assist small island developing States.

6 October 2017: The 2017 Our Ocean Conference closed with participants announcing over €7 billion in commitments related to an array of ocean issues such as marine protected areas (MPAs), sustainable fisheries, climate change, pollution, maritime security, and sustainable blue growth. The conference generated 437 commitments, including 36 commitments from the EU and more than 200 from other governments, and 100 from businesses, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The European Union hosted the event, which convened from 5-6 October, in Malta, and drew public and private sector actors from 112 countries.

The EU announced more than €550 million of EU-funded initiatives at the Conference, including the creation of a new MPA that is over half the size of the entire EU, at more than 2.5 million km². On maritime security, the EU committed to invest in its satellite monitoring programme to support EU agencies and member States in monitoring oil pollution and large-scale fisheries (including to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing) as well as to provide support for regional organizations to counter piracy, among other actions. To tackle marine pollution, the EU announced draft measures to reduce the leakage of plastics into the environment as part of its upcoming plastic strategy and the launch of ‘WISE-Marine,’ an information gateway on European water issues, among other commitments.

To promote a sustainable blue economy, the EU announced a number of programmes and investments, including the launch of the Pacific-EU Marine Partnership (PEUMP) programme to support sustainable management and development of fisheries for food security and economic growth, marine biodiversity conservation and climate change resilience and a number of activities related to marine spatial planning (MSP). Announcements related to climate change include a project with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to establish five Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs), which will enable developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific to develop energy-efficiency measures in maritime transport as well as projects in the Arctic on sustainable development and climate change. Marine protection commitments include a plan to phase-out all single-use plastic cups by the end of 2017, and the management of MPAs. Sustainable fisheries announcements focus on regional coordination against IUU fishing and improved fish stock management as well as work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) to support implementation of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

Further on illegal or unregulated fishing, five global insurance industry companies announced their commitment to refuse insurance to vessels that have been blacklisted for IUU fishing.

The IMO announced a commitment with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to develop a maritime security index. The index will measure and map threats to maritime governance and country capacity to address these threats.

On fisheries subsidies, the EU announced its commitment to reaching a multilateral agreement on fisheries subsidies at the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in December 2017. In July 2017, the EU put forward a revised proposal to prohibit fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, to eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing and to refrain from introducing new subsidies. The proposal aims to implement the Sustainable Development Goal on life below water (SDG 14) target 14.6. The EU stressed its commitment to further an agreement at the WTO, including support through negotiation and implementation.

Also on sustainable fisheries, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), announced the expansion of its fisheries surveillance zone to eight participating States to the Regional Fisheries Monitoring Plan (Comoros, France/Reunion Island, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania), all of which signed the 2017 Fisheries Ministerial Declaration to combat IUU fishing and fisheries crimes in the industrial tuna fisheries in the South West Indian Ocean basin. This commitment will promote sustainable resource management of the second largest tuna producer in the world.

On blue growth, FAO announced the US$1 million Blue Growth Initiative, which will assist small island developing States to sustainably rebuild and grow their marine economies while ensuring benefits to coastal communities.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced three initiatives, which will provide over US$85 million in investments in capacity building and resilience. The initiatives include: addressing nutrient pollution in the Mediterranean, protecting key coastal freshwater resources and enhancing region wide monitoring through the Mediterranean Sea Programme; sustainable fisheries projects to help Caribbean and West African countries transition to a blue economy, to be implemented by the World Bank and FAO; and strengthening resilience and adaptive capacities of vulnerable coastal communities in Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mozambique, and the Mediterranean Region.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced a global strategy to raise awareness for the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of our ocean through a network of 15 institutions and networks that will enhance global cooperation on ocean literacy, with the financial support of Sweden. Activities will include an ocean school programme, an online platform to share resources and projects and an ocean literacy training program for the business, education and policy sectors. IOC also highlighted the proposed Decade of Ocean Science and its MSP work. On MSP, IOC announced its plans to implement the IOC-EU Joint Roadmap to accelerate MSP worldwide, including the launch of MSP pilot projects in the Mediterranean and in the South Pacific, with the EU.

Many companies announced commitments to reduce the use of plastics in their products. To send a strong demand signal for recycled resin, P&G Dish brands announced it will continue to use 8,000 metric tonnes of recycled plastic annually in its transparent plastic bottles. Unilever committed to help transform global plastic packaging material flows by ensuring all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, increasing its use of recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% by 2025; publishing the plastics materials used in its packaging by 2020 to help create a plastics protocol for the industry, and investing in proving, and then sharing with industry, a technical solution to recycle multi-layered sachets. The Dow Chemical Company announced €128,100 funding for three research projects on plastics marine litter, including projects in Japan and Indonesia that will measure trash flow into the ocean and propose solutions to prevent waste from reaching the ocean. The third project will test the use of non-recycled plastic in roadways in Indonesia, helping create a new end-use market for collected materials that might otherwise end up in the environment. Marks & Spencer announced that all its UK plastic packaging will be 100% recyclable. PepsiCo said it will design 100% of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable and will increase recycled materials in its plastic packaging, among other actions. The Werner & Mertz Group, whose packaging is already 100% recyclable, announced its commitment to use 100% recycled plastic in at least 70 million bottles annually, or 65% of its entire annual bottle volume, with the aim of increasing to 100% for all its consumer goods packaging by 2025.

Commitments will be tracked and reported on at the fifth Our Ocean Conference, which will take place in Indonesia in 2018. [Conference Website][EU Press Release on Conference Commitments] [EU Press Release on EU Commitments] [IMO Press Release] [Indian Ocean Commission Press Release] [UNESCO Press Release] [Ocean Action Hub Press Release] [Ocean Action Hub Press Release on UN Ocean Conference] [UN Press Release on Blue Growth Initiative] [GEF Press Release] [List of Commitments] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 2016 Our Ocean Conference]

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