Bold new plans & innovations for vulnerable communities at the Ocean Conference

The Ocean is in trouble. Some 60 per cent of the world’s major marine ecosystems have been degraded or are being used unsustainably. And when life underwater becomes more difficult, there are big implications for life on land.   

Billions of people depend on the Ocean for their main source of protein and millions of others draw their livelihood from the seas. Small Island Developed States (SIDS) and coastal Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are especially dependent on the ocean – and even Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) rely on it since 90 percent of all world trade is carried out by the sea.

That’s why this week’s Ocean Conference in Lisbon is such a big moment for the world’s most vulnerable states.  

Climate-related disasters have almost doubled over the last 20 years, with those contributing least to global emissions often experiencing the worst effects of the emergency. The international community usually responds to disasters after the fact – but countries at risk are also in need of tools to better measure their vulnerability in order to access concessional financing. Without bold new ideas and plans, developing countries’ ability to withstand pandemics, economic shocks, disasters, and climate change will all be lost.   

The UN Office for the Most Vulnerable States (OHRLLS) will be at the Ocean Conference, advocating for such new tools and innovations.  

On such innovation is the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI). We need a new recognition for the vulnerability suffered by certain groups of developing countries, and a new way to measure it so that it can be mitigated against and paid for. Many developing countries rely on external financing to help prepare and recover from crises such as the pandemic or climate change - but the relative income of some makes them ineligible for concessional financing. This is because traditional measures of development, such as GNI per capita, which are heavily reliant on income, insufficiently capture their vulnerabilities.  

A Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) is needed to better employ data and evidence to understand the complexity and impact of vulnerability once and for all. This will inform consistent decision making to maximise the impact of our scarce external financing resources. 

Currently LDCs, LLDCs & SIDS too often lack the expertise, institutional capacities and financial support to derive full benefit from the ocean and its resources in sustainable ways. 

These countries can reap the benefits of a rapidly growing ocean economy, projected to be worth $3 trillion by the end of the decade. But they cannot do it alone. The right support has the potential to make meaningful impacts on the livelihood of many islanders. Strong investments, science-based innovative solutions, and increasing access to technology, will lead to improvements in various areas such as renewable energy, job creation, competitive exports, small and medium enterprises, livelihoods and overall economic well-being and prosperity. This has the potential to positively affect millions of people living in coastal communities around the world.

Keep an eye out for us at the following events (in person and online!): 



13:00 - 14:14 Side Event: “A new frontier in Marine Science and Innovation for SIDS” – co-organised by AOSIS  

16 :00 - 17 :15 SIDS Partnership Event - Co-organised by DESA and OHRLLS  



10.00 - 13.00 Interactive Dialogue: Promoting and strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, in particular for SIDS and LDCs  

15.00 Special Event: Sustainable Blue Economy Investment Forum  

17:30 - 18:45 Side Event: “Partnerships and Innovative Finance: solutions for strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies in SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs” - Lead organisers OHRLLS and DESA  



8:00 - 9:30 Breakfast Event “Fostering international and regional cooperation in support of the sustainable development of the blue economy in LDCs. LLDCs and SIDS.”     

14:00 SDG Media Zone “The Vulnerability Paradox: helping the most vulnerable states move beyond the blunt tools of measuring development”, Moderated by OHRLLS.

Panellists: Erna Solberg, former Prime Minister of Norway; Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, OHRLLS; Ambassador Walton Alfonso Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua & Barbuda to the United Nations 



8:00-9:30 Side Event “ Enhancing the role of women in Deep-sea research”, Lead organizer: ISA   

10:00-13:00 Interactive Dialogue: Increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology 

13:30-14:45 Side Event “Enhancing Support for the Sustainable Blue Economy: Scaling Innovative, Transformative and Durable Investments in SIDS", lead organizer AOSIS  

15:00-18:00 Interactive Dialogue: "Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea".  



10:00-13:00 Interactive Dialogue: Leveraging interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goal 14 and other Goals towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  

15:00-18:00 Closing of the Conference

  • Reporting on the interactive dialogues
  • Adoption of the brief, concise, action oriented and inter-governmentally agreed declaration,
  • Adoption of the report of the Conference.