Mr. Co-chairs, moderator, fellow panelists and lead discussants,
Distinguished Participants from member States and all stake-holders,
It is a great pleasure to join you today to address the important topic of leveraging interlinkages between Goal 14 and other Goals to accelerate progress across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We could use this opportunity to reflect on how our efforts to achieve the 17 SDGs can simultaneously support progress towards the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources. And we can also consider how progress towards SDG 14 can benefit the attainment of other Goals.
For example, the 2nd World Ocean Assessment highlights how climate change, economic activity, demographic changes, technological advances, and changing governance structures and geopolitical instability all shape the health of our ocean.
And if we do not achieve Goal 14 and its targets related to sustainable fisheries, we may fail to achieve Goal 2 on food security, hunger and nutrition.
Some projections indicate that as many as 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030. Fish and seafood consumption provides approximately 20 per cent of animal protein intake for 3.2 billion people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how interlinkages can be leveraged to ensure the protection of marine areas and to support fisheries and the livelihoods and nutrition they provide. When marine protected areas and fisheries managers were unable to undertake monitoring and surveillance due to travel restrictions, it stimulated the development of innovative new technologies to fill the need.
Remote monitoring and surveillance, as well as improved remote communications, became increasingly important. These technologies have allowed fisheries and marine protected area managers to carry on their work despite pandemic-related restrictions.
This is one example, but we have made significant progress since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in understanding interlinkages between the Goals.
The Voluntary National Reviews of SDG implementation demonstrate that many countries have undertaken systematic studies of interlinkages at the national level to better plan their actions for sustainable development. These studies have often included mapping of potential synergies and trade-offs. Such mappings have, in some cases, resulted in new interlinked strategies for SDG achievement.
Many countries have convened multisectoral dialogues, inter-departmental working groups and national coordinating bodies across levels of government. These types of dialogues can, at their best, create new partnerships and innovative solutions.
They can also help identify situations where one sector policies may adversely impact another sector. It is important to work jointly to manage such trade-offs so that the impacts on all stakeholders are taken into account.
For example, ending harmful fisheries subsidies can help reduce overfishing and as a result lead to restoration of both fish stocks and marine ecosystems. But ending subsidies may also result in job losses for those working in the fisheries sector. These job losses could have unexpected consequences for other SDGs that may be difficult to predict in advance.
Understanding such trade-offs, and making all stakeholders part of the solution, is a first step towards finding synergies and developing alternative livelihoods.
So how can we better leverage interlinkages to design impactful policy to achieve SDG 14? There is no simple answer to this question, but the way forward will likely include public engagement, an effective science-policy interface, and multidisciplinary partnerships.
Ocean-science partnerships should involve multiple disciplines of science, including the social sciences, and should be open to different types of knowledge, including traditional knowledge. They should also aim to be inclusive and promote the training of young female scientists, so that SDGs 5 and 10 can be advanced along with SDG 14.
We must also actively seek to develop multidisciplinary partnerships that have ocean health as their central aim, and that involve all ocean sectors and stakeholders.
For example, marine spatial planning brings together multiple ocean users to make informed and coordinated decisions on how to use ocean spaces and resources sustainably.
Increasing the availability of financing for ocean action is another requirement for integrated action. A recent study found that SDG 14 is the least funded among all of the SDGs. This was also reiterated by many world leaders gathered here for the Conference.
Raising financing for ocean solutions might be easier if we underscore that such investments will enable concurrent progress towards other SDGs, including poverty, nutrition, hunger and security.
Looking ahead, I see a few opportunities at the global level for advancing discussions and encouraging action in these areas. Immediately after this Conference, we will have an in-depth review of SDG 14 at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) under the auspices of the ECOSOC, to be held in New York from 5 to 15 July. Later this year, the upcoming COP27 of UNFCCC will address the well established and acknowledged ocean, climate and biodiversity nexus.
By placing the ocean at the centre of these vital global policy debates we can create win-win solutions in the long term.