Participants at the Second Blue Economy Summit adopted the Abu Dhabi 2016 Blue Economy Declaration, which urges States, international agencies and donors to take action and facilitate the application of the blue economy to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
23 January 2016: Participants at the Second Blue Economy Summit adopted the Abu Dhabi 2016 Blue Economy Declaration, which urges States, international agencies and donors to take action and facilitate the application of the blue economy to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC) organized the Summit in partnership with the Governments of Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Summit, which convened under the theme ‘One Ocean, One Future,’ focused on how to address SDG 14 on the oceans and the Paris Agreement on climate change through practical implementation of the blue economy.
“For most island nations, sustainable fisheries are the starting point for our Blue Economy aspirations,” President of Seychelles, James Alix Michel, said in a keynote address. He described Seychelles’ transition to a blue economy through empowering its local fisheries industry to adopt sustainable practices to create better value addition, underscoring the importance of local entrepreneurs and local ownership in the blue economy agenda. Michel stressed the need to differentiate between the blue economy approach and unsustainable ocean governance models based on extractive industries, saying the latter fail to empower coastal and island populations and do not place an emphasis on maintaining a healthy, productive ocean.
President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson proposed four pillars for international cooperation on the oceans: creating a global monitoring system; instituting a “use 99%” goal; managing the Arctic; and creating a global World Ocean Bank to finance ocean management and responsible fisheries. Grimsson said a global monitoring system would oblige every vessel, large or small, to have a tracking device on board to enable monitoring of vessel movements and recommended its data be publicly available, to enhance transparency and ensure compliance with fisheries regulations within and outside country’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs). To maximize utilization, he suggested the slogan, “Use 99%,” saying “it does not make sense to work hard to protect fish stocks and advocate sustainability of ocean resources if we then throw away half of what is caught due to ignorance and irresponsible business methods.”
UNESCO-IOC Executive Secretary Vladimir Ryabinin said IOC will provide scientific support on SDG targets related to marine pollution, ocean acidification and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems. He also said UNESCO-IOC will help build the blue economy and advance implementation on SDG 14 through marine spatial planning, the Global Ocean Observing System, Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), its OceanTeacher Global Academy and other capacity development and education initiatives.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) shared its efforts to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships and its technical cooperation programme on the SDGs.
In the Declaration, participants reaffirm the blue economy as a productive approach to the sustainable management of oceans and seas and recognized its contribution to poverty alleviation, livelihood creation, increased food security and social equity, among other goals. The Declaration also acknowledges the contribution of the blue economy to climate change mitigation, including through coastal and marine carbon sinks and the potential development of marine renewable energy, as well as to enhance climate resilience.
The Summit convened on 19 January in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), which took place from 19-23 January 2016. [Summit Website] [Seychelles President Statement] [Iceland President Statement] [UNESCO-IOC Press Release] [IMO News Page] [Blue Economy Declaration] [IISD RS Story on Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week]