8 June 2017: On the fourth day of the UN Ocean Conference side events addressed: ocean knowledge; upstream considerations in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 (life below water); oceans, climate and the blue economy; trade and investment; deep seabed mining; and financing and investment for SDG 14, among other topics.

Among the gatherings on the sidelines of the Conference on 8 June 2017, in New York, US, the event titled ‘Building Ocean Knowledge for Sustainable Development’ focused on the role of science, technology and innovation (STI), data collection and knowledge sharing in implementing the SDGs and achieving sustainable development. State Secretary of Norway Tone Skogen said her country is one of few to have established research policies for sustainable development, and underscored the ocean as a priority. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova said the Global Ocean Science Report provides a starting point for understanding existing marine scientific capacities and opportunities for strengthening them, such as through international cooperation and mechanisms for the transfer of marine technologies. She urged governments to consider creating a fund to operationalize the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)’s Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology. Peter Haugan, IOC-UNESCO, described the preliminary objectives of the proposed International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Decade, which include stimulating a global partnership on marine science needed to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and understanding the impacts of cumulative stressors and seeking sustainable solutions for maintaining ocean benefits. The science advisor to Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Zakri Abdul Hamid, stressed the need to align educational systems with the SDGs, and highlighted the role of multi-stakeholder collaborations that engage national science councils in operationalizing the 2030 Agenda. Participants also discussed the transfer of marine technology and the role of STI in climate mitigation and adaptation.

Banning microplastics in cosmetics will not solve the problem because a much larger proportion comes from tires, roads, paints, city dust, and washing clothes.

During the event, ‘Can We Achieve SDG 14 Without Looking Upstream? Starting at the Source to Save the Sea?,’ participants called for concrete steps to address upstream sources of marine pollution, and stressed the importance of regional collaboration in tackling source-to-sea challenges. Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Naoko Ishi said the GEF has become convinced of the need to break silos and look at problems holistically, and plans to feature a source-to-sea approach in its next replenishment. Carl Gustaf Lundin, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said that banning microplastics in cosmetics will not solve the problem because a much larger proportion of microplastic pollution comes from tires, roads, paints, city dust, and washing clothes. Participants supported: cross-sectoral thinking for indicators on SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 14, and linking integrated water resources management (IWRM) with integrated coastal zone management (ICZM); adoption of functional waste management and wastewater treatment systems; and the importance of source-to-sea solutions, especially for small island developing States (SIDS).

‘Addressing Oceans and Climate and Building the Blue Economy: Essential to SDG 14 Implementation’ showcased national efforts to address climate change, ocean health and promote a blue economy. GEF CEO Naoko Ishii expressed the GEF’s interest in forming a multi-stakeholder platform to create a coherent framework for addressing the nexus of climate, oceans and the blue economy. Charles Goddard, Economist Intelligence Unit, suggested that the key to financing a transition to a more sustainable ocean economy is to increase awareness of the economic exposure and financial risk posed by what climate change is doing to the oceans. Grenada’s ambassador to the US, Angus Friday, shared his country’s plans to create a Blue Economy Institute. Participants also welcomed the reference to blue economy in the Conference’s Call to Action.

Participants in a session on ‘Blue Biotrade: Harnessing Trade and Investment for Sustainable Use’ discussed ways to adapt biotrade principles to the ocean and marine sector. Lucas Assunҫão, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), described UNCTAD’s biotrade initiative, which has developed methodologies and standards for the trade for sustainable use of a wide range of biodiversity-based products. Daniel Kachelriess, UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), highlighted synergies between CITES and biotrade principles, and differences between terrestrial and marine contexts, including national versus regional management and diverse sources of data versus fisheries as the main data source. Tundi Agardy, Forest Trends, said biotrade is unique among tools promoting sustainable use in that it takes account of the whole value chain. She highlighted difficulties in applying biotrade to the ocean: lack of private property; resources beyond jurisdiction; and externalities not yet addressed in marine policies. International Ocean Institute (IOI) Honorary President Awni Behnam stressed that blue economy and blue growth are different concepts, because the core of the blue economy is sustainability, not growth.

During an event on deep seabed mining, participants discussed the benefits and risks of deep seabed mining activities, among other topics. Mahe’uli’uli Sandhurst Tupouniua, Permanent Mission of Tonga, said Tonga is the first country to adopt a Mineral Seabed Act, which highlights Tonga’s initiatives to protect and preserve its marine environment and the deep seabed.

The event titled ‘Financing Ocean Sustainable Development: The Investment Community and SDG 14’ underscored the potential of private capital to close investment gaps. Founding President and CEO of the World Ocean Council (WOC) Paul Holthus highlighted the development of an ocean investment platform that would bring together the ocean community with industry and entrepreneurs to create solutions to ocean-related challenges. Participants addressed, inter alia: the importance of quantifying long-term benefits for investors; the potential of green bonds; opportunities for investing in coastal infrastructure; and the importance of enabling policies and conditions for businesses. [ENB on the Side (ENBOTS) Coverage] [ENBOTS Coverage of CBD Special Events at Conference] [UNESCO Press Release on Ocean Knowledge Event] [UNESCO Press Release on Ocean Report]