It is my pleasure to address the opening of this important event, the “Sustainable Blue Economy Investment Forum,” as the Secretary-General of the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference.
Our history is riddled with countless avoidable mistakes. One of the most harmful man-made disasters of all is our consistent failure to conserve our ocean.
Every year, 11 million tons of plastic enter our oceans.
Every year, over 10 million tons of fish are wasted due to destructive fishing practices.
Ocean acidity has increased 26 per cent since pre-industrial times.
The ocean has absorbed more than 90 per cent of the excess heat trapped in the Earth’s climate system.
We are now facing the grave consequences.
60 per cent of world’s marine ecosystems have been degraded.
57 million jobs from marine fisheries are at stake.
Coral bleaching not only represents a grave threat to biodiversity but also costs $12 billion annually in losses of tourism.
And 680 million people are living in low-lying coastal zones – one million in Small Island Developing States included.
We are here today, acknowledging our solemn responsibility to fix our relationship with the ocean.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres has stressed, there is the urgent need for collective action by all to revitalize the ocean to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
While there has been encouraging progress made in the implementation of some aspects of Goal 14, the 2022 SDG Progress Report shows that our collective efforts are not approaching the scale needed to make our ambitious plans a reality by the set deadline.
A greater sense of urgency and momentum are needed at all levels to address the global emergency facing the world’s seas and oceans today.
We should chart a new course away from “business as usual” towards a “sustainable blue economy”.
Such a transformation requires a concerted global push, a push towards more and better financing, investment and value-chain solutions for the development of sustainable ocean-based economies.
The private sector plays a pivotal role in making the “Decade of Action for blue economy” a reality over the next eight years.
The transition to a sustainable blue economy offers the greatest opportunities of our time. The evidence shows that the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$ 3 trillion per year, or about 5 per cent of global gross domestic product.
I have been hearing about existing good practices in financing ocean-related activities at all levels. They include the debt for nature swap, sovereign blue bonds, Blue Action Fund, PROBLUE multi-donor trust fund and sustainable development bonds, just to name a few.
They all aim for sustainable blue investment, taking into account the critical role of ocean and water resources.
This afternoon, I look forward to hearing about more inspirational examples and to discussing key issues related to local governance on SDG 14; Sustainable Ocean Principles; actions from energy, digital, natural capital fields; contribution of 3 Ps (protection, production and prosperity); financing; and circular economy investment for sustainable blue economy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Investing in a sustainable ocean economy will reap multiplier dividends in our efforts towards all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and vice versa.
Among the key messages of the most recent Global Sustainable Development Reports is the fact that rapid change and progress towards the SDGs can only happen when different actors collaborate in an integrated way towards shared goals, while sharing available innovation, expertise and knowledge.
In particular, multi-stakeholder partnerships, when optimally deployed and sustained, have proven instrumental for achieving the SDGs – from financing to capacity-building, to technology development and transfer.
We cannot go green without going blue.
We cannot go blue without each other.
As we are supporting our societies to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis, let us all come together to promote the crucial role of investment in a sustainable blue economy and saving the lifeblood of our planet.
I wish you all productive discussions!