New York

21 September 2016

Secretary-General's message to SIDS Leaders Luncheon on Ocean Partnerships for Sustainable Development

[Delivered by Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States]

I am pleased to send greetings to the leaders of the Small Island Developing States. 

The oceans and their resources play a crucial role in regulating the climate and sustaining life on our planet.  Healthy, productive and resilient oceans are critical for reducing poverty and hunger and supporting sustainable development. 

Because the health of the oceans concerns us all, the challenges of ocean management must be addressed collectively.  That is why the United Nations and the international community have responded by laying out rights and obligations related to the use of the oceans, as well as providing global policy guidance, through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the recent adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 14.  

Sustainable and equitable management and use of the oceans is particularly relevant to SIDS.  A higher proportion of their people live within five metres of sea-level and they are more reliant on marine resources for economic and social development. 

I commend SIDS for their leadership on the issue of ocean governance at global, regional and national levels and in formulating SDG 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources

SIDS continue to lead in the area of ocean conservation.  In 2014, in Samoa, SIDS were the first to commit to conserve 10 per cent of their coastal and marine areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services by 2020.  A year later, the world followed by making the same commitment in SDG 14. 

To successfully keep oceans healthy and productive, SIDS will need the support of the Member States and the international community.  We must also engage the private sector as an essential partner in making and meeting commitments.  The sustainable development of the oceans is a task for all stakeholders, working in concert.

To that end, I congratulate Mr. Cyrill Gutsch, CEO and Founder of Parley for the Oceans, and Mr. Herbert Heiner, CEO of Adidas, and your partners, for your initiative to partner with SIDS to address the issue of plastics.  The UN system will continue to support partnerships can make a real difference for people and ecosystems.

During my tenure, I have been honoured to work with SIDS leaders to promote sustainable development.  You can count on my continued support.

I wish you a pleasant and productive meeting.