Statement on the Consideration of Draft Resolution “Our ocean, our future: call for action”

Statement by H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, on the Consideration of Draft Resolution “Our ocean, our future: call for action”

6 July 2017, New York


Ladies and gentlemen,
Last month, United Nations Headquarters in New York experienced the extraordinary energies of The Ocean Conference.

Thousands of participants from across science, civil society, government, multilateral organisations and the private sector, gathered to forge a global movement in support of SDG 14 – the Ocean goal.

Global consciousness has now been raised on the Ocean’s problems such that we can no longer say that we are unaware of the extent of trouble we have brought upon the Ocean.
Through the many solutions and remedial actions identified by the conference, the breakthrough has come in the long-sought turning point of restoring to humanity a relationship of respect and balance with the Ocean.
The conference proved to be an affirmation that we are deeply concerned about the effects of human activity on our shared environment.  It served as further proof that the great mass of humanity and the governments that lead us remain united behind the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement and that we are determined to see these agreements faithfully implemented in fidelity to the fundament that sustains us.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The Ocean Conference produced three key ambitious outcomes.

Firstly, the seven partnership dialogues spared no detail in informing us of the truth about the current state of the Ocean by presenting best available scientific evidence. Participants in the dialogues responded by putting forward effective solutions to these problems. We have captured those solutions.

Secondly, nearly 1400 voluntary commitments were submitted by Governments, the UN system, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders notifying us of the practical remedial action they will be taking to realize the targets of SDG14.

Thirdly, the Conference adopted the “Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action” document that we have before us today.

By this “Call for Action”, governments are reaffirming their commitment to conserve and sustainably use the Ocean and its resources. We have highlighted the actions required to achieve the SDG14 targets and we have made a firm call for appropriate follow up on the implementation of our Ocean commitments.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

Taken together, these three outcomes constitute a massive work plan for us all to undertake in order to ensure the successful implementation of our Ocean goal.

As we move forward together, in this great task, we are fortified by the global energy and the resources generated by The Ocean Conference. When it comes to the Ocean, there is no them and us, no division between the public and the private sector, North and South, East or West. The Ocean unites us. Is it the common heritage of mankind and our ultimate home.

In a welcome development at the conference, Kenya and Portugal offered to host a second UN Ocean Conference in 2020 to serve as the next key moment for assessment and adjustment of  how we are progressing towards the full implementation of SDG14 in time for the maturity of the goal’s targets in 2030.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Governments of Sweden and Fiji as co-Presidents; the Secretary-General of the Conference, Mr Wu Hongbo; the Special Adviser to the Co-Presidents, Mr Serpa Soares; the UN system that so ably supported; and all those who made this conference such a success.

I extend special thanks to the Permanent Representatives of Portugal and Singapore who were instrumental in finalising the Call for Action document that is presented here this morning for the Assembly’s endorsement.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through The Ocean Conference we have truly begun the process of reversing the cycle of decline that human activity has brought upon the Ocean.

In adopting this Call for Action, today, we will signal our determination to maintain the momentum launched at The Ocean Conference.

From here, we must move forward with the dogged determination required of us to achieve the targets of SDG14, we must restore humanity’s relationship of respect and balance with the Ocean.

I thank you for your attention.

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