More from UNDESA Vol 21, No. 05 - May 2017

Voluntary commitments on ocean action picking up pace in advance of June Conference

A growing number of countries, businesses and civil society groups are stepping forward with new commitments to improve the health of the world’s oceans in advance of The Ocean Conference that will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 5-9 June.

“For too long, we have taken the Ocean for granted, without understanding the vital role it plays in our lives,” said the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson. “The voluntary commitments being made through the website of The Ocean Conference, from countries large and small, from agencies and civil society, register the good action being taken to restore and preserve the Ocean’s health.”

“We have seen a surge in new commitments to address the very real concerns that our oceans are facing,” said Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of The Ocean Conference and Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “We hope the pace will pick up even further,” he added.

As of 26 April, a total of 87 voluntary commitments to support the implementation of SDG14 have been made at the Voluntary Commitments registry of the Ocean Conference at:

Commitment types

Among commitments to-date are projects to protect coral reefs and coastal zones in Grenada and Bali; a commitment to increase ocean conservation philanthropy, and Belgium’s commitment to prepare a national action plan to combat marine litter that will contain several cleaning activities such as the removal of fishing nets from ship wrecks and beach clean ups.

The leading nation in the number of voluntary commitments currently is Indonesia, with six, followed by Grenada, with five.

The leading entity type for submission of voluntary commitments is non-governmental organizations, with 30, followed by governments, with 16, and intergovernmental organizations with 7 and partnerships with 8.

The majority of voluntary commitments are global in nature—there are 51 so far, while the ocean basins with the most voluntary commitments are the South Pacific (22), the North Atlantic (20), and the North Pacific (17). Only two commitments (each) have been made that impact the Arctic and Southern Oceans. Of the 10 SDG14 targets, support for the sustainable management of marine ecosystems have garnered the most commitments, with 45, followed by marine pollution reduction with 40, and scientific knowledge, research capacity and technology transfer, with 39.

Stakeholders at all levels, from local civil society groups to UN member states to the largest private companies, are invited to submit their SDG14 voluntary commitments to the registry towards their official inclusion in the report of the Ocean Conference.

About the Conference

The Ocean Conference, to be held at UN Headquarters in NY from 5 to 9 June, aims to address and reverse the deterioration of the health of the ocean through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 14 calls for the conservation and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

For more information: The Ocean Conference

Apply now for the US$ 1 Million UN DESA Energy Grant

UN DESA has opened applications for its 2017 Grant on Energy for Sustainable Development. The thematic focus this year is Sustainable Energy for Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World.

“This focus is of great relevance as it addresses critical issues that will help accelerate progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those reflecting the multiple roles that energy plays in eradication of poverty through advancements in health, education, water supply, industrialization and combating climate change, among others,” said UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo.

The 2017 Grant seeks to advance sustainable development by encouraging scientific and technological innovations and fostering leadership initiatives and innovative actions that improve sustainable energy for eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity, while addressing economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Applications are open to individuals, institutions or partnerships based on past and current achievements. Successful recipients should be able to demonstrate leadership and innovation in sustainable energy for eradicating poverty, as well as willingness and ability to implement knowledge transfer through capacity building activities aimed at replicating and scaling up successful experiences and lessons learned.

The Grant carries an award of one million US dollars to fund such capacity building activities.


Applications are accepted online only. To access the online application form, please see

For eligibility requirements and selection criteria, please see

Applications must be submitted in English by 15 June 2017.

For queries and additional information, please send emails to

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