Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Opening Remarks at the fifteenth meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal
Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs welcomes the opportunity to address the fifteenth meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Seas, which will focus its discussions on “The role of seafood in global food security”.

Global food security has become a rising concern, given widespread malnutrition, the world population growth, as well as the impacts of climate change and other challenges increasingly threatening the environment and local communities.

A total of 842 million people, one in eight persons in the world, are estimated to be suffering from chronic hunger, regularly not receiving enough food to conduct an active life. The vast majority lives in developing countries. About 45% of all child deaths are related to malnutrition. Additionally, approximately 2 billion people worldwide are affected by micronutrient malnutrition, also referred to as “hidden hunger”.

In the Rio+20 outcome document, The Future We Want, Member States reaffirmed their commitments “regarding the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger”.

They acknowledged that food security and nutrition had become a pressing global challenge and, in this regard, further reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing food security and access to adequate, safe and nutritious food for present and future generations.

At the same time, they highlighted the “crucial role of healthy marine ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture for food security and nutrition and in providing for the livelihoods of millions of people”.

The Secretary-General’s report, prepared to facilitate the discussions at this meeting, shows that unsustainable practices in the exploitation of seafood resources, including overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing, and unsustainable aquaculture practices, can have significant negative impacts on food security and livelihoods. Other pressures on the marine environment, such as habitat alteration and destruction, marine pollution, alien invasive species, climate change and ocean acidification, aggravate the food security risks facing local communities. This is particularly the case in developing countries, where undernourishment is widespread and a high dependence on seafood as a source of food exists among coastal communities.

At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders stressed the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and of their resources for sustainable development, including through their contributions to food security.

In this regard, a number of measures have been put forward to ensure the continued role of seafood in global food security. These include strengthening the implementation of the international legal and policy frameworks, enhancing scientific understanding, adopting integrated management and ecosystems approaches, promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and undertaking capacity-building and technology transfer.

Distinguished Delegates,

Oceans and seas contribute to all aspects of our life on this planet and are crucial to sustainable development. Their importance is currently recognized in ongoing discussions on universal sustainable development goals. In addition, oceans and seas will figure prominently at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, which will take place on 1-4 September this year in Apia, Samoa. DESA serves as Secretariat of the Conference and continues to work closely with all relevant parts of the UN system and other entities in the preparations of the Conference. We hope to see all of you in Samoa for this important Conference.


I would like to add that the zero draft of the Open Working Group has a standalone goal on “Taking urgent and significant actions for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas” which inter alia has targets which call for:

  • by 2020, effectively regulating harvesting and ending overfishing to restore by 2030 fish stocks to ecologically safe levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield;
  • by 2020, eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destructive fishing practices;
  • eliminating subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing; and
  • supporting sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture.

It is our common responsibility to ensure healthy, resilient and productive oceans and seas. I look forward to continuing our support to this Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Seas and to our continued collaborative efforts in promoting the conservation and sustainable use of ocean and seas for the benefit of current and future generations.

I wish you a very successful meeting.