|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Permanent Mission of Palau, TerraMar Project
on Oceans Question in Sustainable Development Goals
The international community and civil society at large must partner with the United Nations to support initiatives aimed at highlighting the important role of oceans in the sustainable development goals.
Making the appeal today at a Headquarters press conference on the importance of including oceans in the sustainable development goals was Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations. Accompanying him was Ghislaine Maxwell, founder of the TerraMar Project.
Mr. Beck said that on 20 June, he and Ms. Maxwell had convened a meeting with the aim of galvanizing the United Nations community into brainstorming on how to include oceans in the sustainable development goals. The world was at a historic moment, he said, adding that its importance had been highlighted by John Ashe ( Antigua and Barbuda), President of the sixty-eighth General Assembly, who had described the sustainable development goals as the “boldest and most ambitious project that the United Nations has ever had to accomplish”.
What was important about that process was ensuring that oceans were part of it, he said. “As you know, the oceans were not a part of the very important and very successful Millennium Development Goals, and we want to make sure that oceans are a very important part of the sustainable development goals,” he said. Palau had done a good deal to declare shark sanctuaries, ban bottom trawling and create some of the world’s first protected areas. However, it had also come to realize that that one small country in the middle of the Pacific would not be able to determine the fate of the oceans that were so hard-pressed with problems of declining stocks, illegal fishing and the depredations of climate change, among others. And yet, “nobody is doing anything about it”, he noted.
He further observed that the Millennium Development Goals had been created in a very important, but not very transparent way. While they had been very successful when initiated in 2000, they had not had enormous input from the public. For the oceans goal to be included among the sustainable development goals, and to ensure that it was sufficiently resilient to create a matrix that would guide the world in measurable ways to determine the health of ocean fish stocks, the health of the oceans could be accomplished through a combination of forces that were now being discussed.
Ms. Maxwell said the TerraMar Project sought to join forces with like-minded people in order to raise awareness and focus attention on the “super important” issues surrounding oceans. There was no better or more important place for those issues to come to a head than the United Nations. What was lacking in that effort was a big movement around it and a big social presence, she said. The aim of the TerraMar Project and others in the sector, therefore, was to create a social network around oceans with a global outreach, thus creating a “global citizenship for our global commons and for the oceans”.
With that in place, the world would be better informed about the sustainable development goals and on ocean-related issues, she said. It would then empower representatives in the United Nations to take the hard decisions needed to make new laws for the sustainability of the oceans. In that regard, the TerraMar Project worked in close partnership with other media and social network outlets, such as Google and Idea Pod, among others.
* *** *