Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to participate in this breakout session which is part of the 2020 edition of the SDG Business Forum. On behalf of UNDESA, I want to thank our partners from the United Nations Global Compact and the International Chamber of Commerce for creating and expanding the space for dialogue on the contribution of the private sector to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Today’s breakout session is very timely. Although the United Nations Ocean Conference has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, the preparatory process continues, under the leadership of the co-hosts- Kenya and Portugal- and counting on the energy and action-oriented mobilization of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson - who we are honored to have with us today.
With the aim of keeping the momentum towards Ocean action, UN DESA, through its Division for Sustainable Development Goals has been promoting a series of activities, including online consultations and open webinars, to bring perspectives from stakeholders from different sectors, including the private sector, in preparation for the Ocean Conference.
The health of the ocean is intimately tied to our health. Despite the many pressing emergencies, ocean conservation and action should not come to a halt while we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to look at long-term solutions for the health of our planet as a whole.
Moreover, the ocean can be an ally against COVID-19. According to UNESCO, bacteria found in the depths of the ocean are used to carry out rapid testing to detect the presence of COVID-19. And the diversity of species found in the ocean offers great promise for pharmaceuticals. We must tap into this potential with responsibility.
The fight against the pandemic also offers an opportunity to revive the Ocean and start building a sustainable ocean economy. As an example, a report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific suggests that the temporary shutdown of activities as well as reduced human mobility and resource demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic may provide marine environments the much-needed breathing space for them to start to recover. We must re-start on a blue, sustainable path.
Today’s event is a unique opportunity to hear from private sector leaders on how to further mobilize the sector towards SDG 14 implementation and hear ideas and recommendations to keep the momentum for Ocean Action and the UN Ocean Conference.
Let us be reminded that the theme of the now postponed Ocean Conference, is “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions”.
Despite the many challenges imposed by COVID-19, now, more than ever, we need to be creative in connecting stakeholders and co-creating solutions to build back better in order to accelerate SDG implementation in the Decade of Action. Ocean action rooted in science and innovation driven by the private sector will be vital in this regard.
I wish you all very fruitful discussions.