Countries, companies and NGOs pledge over a thousand new marine conservation initiatives worldwide
The first UN Ocean Conference concluded on Friday with a political call for action to work together to save the world’s seas and oceans. More than 8,000 participants representing over 190 countries, intergovernmental organisations and civil society attended the event. Sweden and Fiji jointly hosted the week-long conference in New York. This also marked the launch of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the marine sector. The conference aimed to be a game changer to initiate a fundamental new approach to dealing with the world’s seas and oceans.
Federal Environment Minister Hendricks commented: "Water - in all its forms - is life. Our very existence depends on healthy oceans. We need them as a sustainable source of food for our growing global population. We need them to ensure that prosperity and social equity are improved, especially in the countries of the South. We need them in our battle to combat climate change. Only by working together will we be able to protect the priceless wealth of animals and plants that live in our oceans, seas and coastal areas."
The goal of the UN conference was to trigger a global process for protection of the world’s oceans and further implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda. With this agenda, all UN member countries have committed to securing a good and healthy status for all oceans, drastically reducing the serious pollution caused by marine litter, emissions from ships and other sources, and providing better protection for marine ecosystems and species.
The participants in the Ocean Conference adopted a call for action today aimed at all countries and other stakeholders. Its stated goal is to limit marine pollution resulting from marine litter and to preserve biodiversity and unique habitats in oceans, seas and coastal areas. This includes establishing sustainable fisheries and ensuring that coastal dwellers in island states also have adequate incomes. For example, more marine protected areas are to be set up and managed effectively.
In addition, a large number of different partnerships and over 1,000 voluntary commitments were adopted as contributions to protecting the oceans. Kenya offered to host the next Ocean Conference.
Minister Hendricks commented: "Our preference would have been a more far-reaching call for action. In view of the alarming state of our seas and oceans we need more than declarations of intent and support for existing agreements. We need to act. Nevertheless, we support the outcome. Of course, it is clear that not all countries can work at the same speed. In some cases we will be able to take big steps, while we will have to be content with smaller victories in others."
Germany advocates a specific follow-up process to the Ocean Conference and has announced eleven voluntary commitments. These include several projects under the International Climate Initiative on the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, the Blue Action Fund to promote protected areas and to combat marine pollution and a project to reduce emissions from ships. The German government also advocates setting up protection projects in international waters and improving regional cooperation between marine regions.