Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to our webinar today.
The past year we have grappled with:
- a devastating global pandemic,
- economic contraction,
- widening inequalities,
- rising hunger, and
- a triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and ocean degradation.
As noted by the United Nations Secretary-General, we need renewed, strengthened and inclusive multilateralism to respond to these challenges and recover better, together. Indeed, our collective response will determine humankind’s future.
We therefore begin this year’s “Keeping the Momentum for Ocean Action” webinar series with the Communities of Ocean Action. They have been rallying important stakeholders to our common goal of implementing SDG14 through Voluntary Commitments.
The Voluntary Commitments were one of the major outcomes and a vital legacy of the 2017 Ocean Conference.
To date, there are 1,642 registered voluntary commitments from Member States. These groundbreaking commitments cover an array of ocean action, encompassing all the targets of SDG14 and their interlinkages with other SDGs.
Dr. Marjo Vierros has worked with UN DESA to provide a full analysis of their impacts, gaps identified and solutions that can be scaled up. This is reflected in a report entitled “An Assessment of Impacts of the United Nations Ocean Conference Voluntary Commitments”.
Along with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, I am happy to announce the launch of the report here today.
You will hear from Dr. Vierros later about the key findings of the report. I would also like to thank the government of Sweden for its generous contribution, which made the production of this report possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to make peace with nature.
The ocean not only plays a critical role in poverty reduction, food security, health, jobs, and social inclusion and equity. It also holds the key to success of tackling climate change and restoring biodiversity --as a giant sink of carbon dioxide and home to millions of species.
It is our responsibility to make sure the ocean is placed front and center in the global recovery efforts.
Notwithstanding some progress in increasing marine protected areas, the world is alarmingly off track to implement SDG14. We have already missed the 2020 deadline for targets 14.2, 14.4, 14.5 and 14.6.
Moreover, due to the pandemic, our efforts to save the ocean will very likely be met with competing demands for resources between economic, social response measures and environmental protection.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A sustainable blue economy offers a vision for countries’ efforts to recover better from COVID-19, by bringing economic and environmental priorities together.
The ocean is seen as the next great economic frontier. Its contribution to the global economy was projected to double, from US$1.5 trillion in 2010 to $3 trillion by 2030.
As a co-focal point for the Community of Ocean Action on Sustainable Blue Economy, I am happy to note that interest in this area is well illustrated in the registry of voluntary commitments.
Sustainable blue economy also provides a much-needed solution for small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). It brings economic benefits and jobs, while safeguarding marine ecosystems and protecting the ocean.
Social equity is often seen as the forgotten dimension of the transition to a sustainable blue economy. We must ensure that in the competitive ocean space, the interests of the most vulnerable are not left behind.
Preliminary analysis shows that pursuing a blue economy requires access to affordable long-term financing at scale. The challenges faced by voluntary commitment holders demonstrate that such finance can be difficult to come by. Lack of capacity and access to technology also remain major challenges. Transfer of marine technology is crucial to ensure that no one is left behind.
Looking ahead, immense potential lies in some underutilized sectors of sustainable blue economy, such as ocean renewable energy, marine biotechnology and algal aquaculture. If further developed, these sectors will generate robust employment increases and profits while helping to combat climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We must take urgent action to save our ocean from pollution, over-fishing, acidification and warming up. We must scale up science-based and innovative solutions to sustainably use marine resources and keep the ocean-based economy vibrant.
Let us meet in Lisbon with solidarity, strong commitment and transformative measures to ensure a world with healthy ocean for generations to come.