June 2017 United Nations Oceans Conference announced at COP22

The President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, the Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate of Sweden, Isabella Lövin, and the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, convened on 15 November a press conference at COP 22 in Marrakech to announce a major United Nations conference on oceans, to be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 5 to 9 June 2017.

After welcoming the media and introducing the panel, President Thomson announced the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Mr. Thomson said the Governments of Sweden and Fiji are the co-Presidents of the conference and that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had named his Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Mr. Wu as Secretary-General of the conference.

He said the conference “was mandated by the Member States of the United Nations because they recognized that SDG 14 — the Oceans Goal — needed some means of support to make sure it was being implemented” and that it would be the “game-changer that will turn around the cycle of decline in which the ocean is caught.”

Prime Minister Bainimarama told the media that, as a Pacific Small Island Developing State whose coastal communities are totally dependent on marine resources, Fiji intended to work as hard as possible to bring the world’s attention to the urgent need of reversing the degradation of oceans and seas.

“I want to urge my fellow leaders from around the world to join us, and to urge you, the men and women of the media, to highlight the importance of this conference for everyone on the planet, no matter where they live. We must act now to save our oceans and seas. Not only for ourselves, but for the sake of the generations to come,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Lövin said that, as a long-time champion of the environment, the initiative was of the highest priority for Sweden. She added that cooperation was essential, given that the issue did not recognize borders, and that this conference would help mobilize the right partnerships.

“The SDG on Oceans needs special attention. We need to turn the tide if we’re going to achieve SDG 14 by 2030. We need to start working now, in a coordinated way,” Lövin said.

Finally, the Secretary-General for the Conference Mr. Wu talked about the structure of the meeting and pointed out that it would have three major outcomes: an intergovernmentally-agreed declaration in the form of a “Call for Action” to support the implementation of Goal 14, a report containing the co-chairs’ summaries of seven partnership dialogues of the conference, as well as a list of voluntary commitments for the implementation of Goal 14.

Mr. Wu said the overarching theme of the conference is “Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14”” and added that the President of the General Assembly will convene a two-day preparatory meeting on 15 and 16 February 2017, and advised stakeholders to register for said meeting before January 8 of next year.

“As Conference Secretary-General, I assure all Member States of the United Nations that we will do whatever we can to support this conference,” Mr. Wu concluded.

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