12 June 2024
High-level Event Declares “Peace for the Ocean”
Photo Credit: Leighton Lum
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More than two dozen countries signed the Peace for the Ocean Declaration – the main outcome of the meeting.

The signatories commit to “scaling up transformative ocean actions to support nature-positive economies based on the best available science and scientific information, traditional knowledge, and innovation”.

The Declaration outlines priority actions up to 2030, including accelerating climate action, ratifying and implementing the BBNJ Agreement; supporting the completion of the global plastics treaty; and strengthening the science-policy interface for the ocean.

A high-level stakeholder meeting brought together Heads of State and Government, ministers, ocean experts, and leaders from international organizations and civil society to maintain momentum on ocean action and serve as a preparatory meeting for the Third UN Ocean Conference (UNOC-3), to be held in Nice, France, in June 2025.

The High-level Event on Ocean Action themed, ‘Immersed in Change,’ took place in San José, Costa Rica, from 7-8 June 2024. It convened against the backdrop of efforts carried out under the umbrella of the 2021-2030 UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade), including:

  • The completion of the talks for the new treaty under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement);
  • The adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF); and
  • The commencement of negotiations towards an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.

Two recent ocean-related meeting – the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference and the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) – also fed into the discussions.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the event paints an aspirational picture of an ocean free of pollution, “teeming with vibrant marine life and pristine coral reefs,” where biodiversity flourishes, ecosystems thrive, and fisheries are abundant. In this vision, the ocean regulates the climate and provides “endless opportunities for cultural identity, recreation, and health for generations to come.” ENB notes that the belief that such a world is possible “has driven the international community to rally for ocean restoration… and turn the tide against the impacts of the triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution.”

The High-level Event “ended on a high note,” the ENB analysis of the meeting shows. More than two dozen countries signed the Peace for the Ocean Declaration – the main outcome of the meeting. The signatories commit to “scaling up transformative ocean actions to support nature-positive economies based on the best available science and scientific information, traditional knowledge, and innovation.”

The Declaration reaffirms commitments to SDG 14 (life below water), and outlines priority ocean actions up to 2030 – the end year for the Ocean Decade as well as for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These include accelerating climate action, ratifying and implementing the BBNJ Agreement; supporting the completion of the global plastics treaty; and strengthening the science-policy interface for the ocean.

Several delegates noted, however, that the outcomes “extend beyond speeches and commitments,” according to the ENB summary. “The partnerships forged over the two-day meeting will ensure that the momentum built continues to accelerate into UNOC-3 and beyond.” [ENB Coverage of High-level Event on Ocean Action: Immersed in Change]


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