9 May 2017
UN Advances Preparations for Ocean Conference, One Month Away
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

The Presidents of the UN Ocean Conference released concept papers for the seven partnership dialogues, including guiding questions on each theme.

Governments, UN entities and other stakeholders have submitted 116 voluntary commitments supporting implementation of SDG 14, via the Registry of Voluntary Commitments.

8 May 2017: The co-presidents of the UN Ocean Conference released concept papers for the seven partnership dialogues that will take place during the Conference. Governments, UN entities and other stakeholders have submitted 116 voluntary commitments, as of 8 May 2017, to support implementation of SDG 14 (life below water), using the Conference’s Registry of Voluntary Commitments.

The UN Ocean Conference, also called the ‘High-level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,’ will convene from 5-9 June 2017, in New York, US. The Conference is expected to result in three outcomes: an intergovernmental declaration in the form of the ‘Call for Action’; summaries of seven partnership dialogues; and a list of voluntary commitments. The presidents of the Conference are Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, and Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister.

The themes for the partnership dialogues were agreed through consultations co-facilitated by Àlvaro Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal, and Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore. The concept papers each feature an introduction to the theme of the dialogue, a discussion of status and trends, an analysis of challenges and opportunities, information on existing partnerships, possible areas for new partnerships, and guiding questions for the dialogue. The papers were prepared based on inputs received from Member States, the UN system and other stakeholders, and in response to relevant UNGA resolutions.

According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), each dialogue will feature a moderated panel discussion and interventions from participants to highlight relevant voluntary commitments. The moderator and panelists for each dialogue will be announced in the final program, which is expected to be released shortly. The co-chairs of each dialogue were appointed in April 2017.

For Theme 1 (Addressing marine pollution), the concept paper proposes questions related to: improving linkages between collective arrangements at regional and global levels; strengthening waste management practices to reduce marine debris and pollution, including through sustainable financial mechanisms; identifying key sectors that can contribute to controlling oceans pollution; and promoting compliance with existing agreements through partnerships. On Theme 2 (Managing, protecting, conserving, and restoring marine coastal ecosystems), the concept note suggests questions on: factors to successfully manage, protect, conserve, and restore marine and coastal ecosystems; elements of successful partnerships that have engaged across sectors; local community involvement and equitable benefit sharing; and improvements in measuring the impacts and effectiveness of area-based measures.

The concept paper on Theme 3 (Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification) poses questions on: improving measurements of ocean acidification; taking adaptive measures to improve resource sustainability in the face of ocean acidification; identifying and promoting effective mitigation and adaptation measures; and exploring how partnerships can help communities and ecosystems minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification. On Theme 4 (Making fisheries sustainable), questions focus on: advancement of multi-country and multi-stakeholder partnerships on fisheries management; partnerships to tackle IUU fishing and address harmful fisheries subsidies; the role of partnerships in addressing overfishing; and the involvement of businesses and other stakeholders in facilitating innovative systems, techniques and practices for sustainable fisheries.

For Theme 5 (Increasing economic benefits to small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets), the concept paper proposes questions related to opportunities for SIDS and LDCs to, inter alia: to enhance productivity, diversify ocean and marine resource exports, advance marine energy and make other progress; and deepen engagement in the tourism sector. The concept note also suggests discussing empowerment of small-scale artisanal fishing communities and accelerating multi-level implementation of relevant guidelines and principles.

On Theme 6 (Increasing scientific knowledge, and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology), the concept note suggests addressing: how partnerships can enhance scientific understanding of ocean functioning and interactions with human systems; how capacity building and technology transfer can meet developing country needs; opportunities and partnerships related to marine technology and technology transfer; and partnerships to support strong, innovative and resilient ocean-based economies in SIDS. For Theme 7 (Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea), guiding questions address: legal and implementation gaps; partnerships to raise awareness on implementation of the international legal framework for oceans to support achievement of SDG 14; developing country capacity building needs, technology transfer and financing and partnerships to address them; and partnerships for cross-sectoral cooperation and integrated management.

Voluntary commitments recorded in the Registry of Voluntary Commitments include 16 government commitments from Belgium, Fiji, Grenada (5), Indonesia (6), Nigeria, Palau and Sweden; 14 UN commitments from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) (3), the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (3), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) (3), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) (2), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); and eight intergovernmental organization commitments from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (5), the Partnership in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC). Additional commitments include: 39 NGO commitments; ten private sector commitments; nine partnership commitments; nine civil society organization commitments; six academic institution commitments; two scientific community commitments; and two philanthropic organization commitments. In addition to actor, the Registry allows users to sort and search for commitments according to ocean basin, SDG target and beneficiary country.

The Conference is expected to include 150 side events, according to DESA, as well as a special celebration of World Ocean Day on 8 June and various exhibitions. It will be preceded by the World Ocean Festival on 4 June in New York City.

Co-facilitators Gafoor and Mendonça e Moura continue to lead the intergovernmental consultations on the call for action. They plan to release a revised draft text shortly, and to hold the third and final round on 22, 23 and 25 May. [Conference Documents] [Voluntary Commitments] [IAEA Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Appointment of Dialogue Co-Chairs] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Call for Action Negotiations] [IISD Sources]

related events