The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Peter Thomson, provided an update on preparations for the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14, announcing the appointment of co-facilitators for the preparatory process.
The Nippon Foundation and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) reported on the outcomes of the International Symposium on Capacity Building for Sustainable Oceans, which took place in Tokyo in July 2016.
24 October 2016: UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson updated Member States on preparations for the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14, which is set to convene in June 2017. Also on oceans, the Nippon Foundation and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) reported on the outcomes of the International Symposium on Capacity Building for Sustainable Oceans, on building and maintaining capacity for ocean health. SDG 14 calls to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
In a letter to UN Member States on 24 October 2016, Thomson announced that he has appointed two co-facilitators to oversee the preparatory process for the Conference: Alvaro Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal, and Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore. The co-facilitators are also tasked with concluding intergovernmental consultations on a ‘Call for Action’ by May 2017, as an outcome of the Conference. The high-level UN Conference will be co-hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Sweden, and will take place in New York, US.
Climate change and overfishing are the main threats to the sustainability of coastal communities around the world, according to keynote speakers.
On ocean health, the Nippon Foundation and the Government of Japan hosted the Symposium in collaboration with TNC, in Tokyo, Japan, from 19-20 July 2016. In keynote addresses, Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau, Anote Tong, former President of Kiribati, Robert Hill, former Global Ocean Commissioner, and Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director of the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), identified climate change and overfishing as the main threats to the sustainability of coastal communities around the world. Participants highlighted a number of additional challenges facing oceans and coastal areas, including coral reef degradation, ocean acidification and sea-level rise and marine pollution.
Community leaders from 21 places around the world shared their perspectives on how to build capacity for ocean health, and discussed outstanding challenges related to sustaining and expanding capacity across communities. Participants also underscored the importance of empowering women and ensuring inclusion of younger and older generations to build capacity. Speakers recommended a focus on social development, such as education and health programs, and sustainable livelihoods issues for all community benefits to increase engagement in coastal and marine capacity.
Key findings from the Symposium include the importance of: encouraging citizens to participate in scientific research and scientists to communicate with citizens; creating networks of communities, practitioners and experts to build capacity; recognizing the contributions of local level practices in achieving health oceans; increasing government investment in environmental education; granting legal recognition and authority to natural resource stewards; and shifting from program-based approaches to generation-based approaches in capacity building. [UNGA President’s Letter] [Symposium Website] [Symposium Report Website] [International Symposium on Capacity Building for Sustainable Oceans: Final Outcome Report]