Fiji At The Forefront Of First Ever UN Conference On Oceans
The following is Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Ambassador Ravindaran Robin Nair’s opening remarks during the ‘National Multi-stakeholder Workshop on the Oceans Conference’ yesterday.
Ladies and Gentleman, a very good morning to you all. I’m delighted to deliver a few remarks at this meeting.
At the outset, let me begin by thanking you all for attending today’s national multi-stakeholder consultations.
Your presence here today is indicative of our unified commitment. A commitment to working together as Fijians to address the problems facing our oceans.
This commitment is not only fitting for us, given our longstanding history when it comes to oceans. But one that is also necessary in view of the current state of the health of our oceans.
Exactly 35 years ago on December 10 1982, Fiji became the first ratifying state to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Signaling to the world just how important the ocean is for us.
33 years down the line, the world has shared our common vision through the adoption of SDG14, that we should have a healthy and resilient ocean.
We have now pinned our hopes now on SDG14 to deliver this shared vision for us.
Fiji is now once again at the forefront of organising the Ocean Conference in June this year.
This will be the first ever United Nations Conference on oceans. It will provide political impetus for the much needed paradigm shift that the ocean desperately deserves.
As co-president of the conference, we must ensure that Fiji maintains this leadership through the implementation phase. Let’s maximise on this opportunity to garner support.
Government representatives, civil society and the private sector here today, we all have a major role to play in the implementation phase.
All our roles being equally important and crucial to ensuring the integrity of the delivery of SDG14.
In this regard, we must all work together, hand-in-hand. The multi-faceted and mutli-layered challenges facing the ocean require a multi-stakeholder approach.
It requires the commitment and engagement of all stakeholders from the national, regional and global levels.
I understand that informal discussions between Government, civil society and private sector representatives, has begun in earnest this past week, and I commend you for your commitment to this process so far.
In the two days ahead, you will be deliberating on the future of our ocean from a national context.
What you discuss at this meeting will help us catalyse our national approach and positions for next week’s regional preparatory meeting, after which they will be progressed further to the global level at the Conference in June.
This meeting is crucial in this respect, though I understand that this is but the start of many more discussions that will be convened in the lead up to the June Ocean Conference.
Ladies and gentleman,
The unrelenting degradation of the ocean should be a matter of grave concern for us all.
We have been taking more resources from the marine environment than it can sustainably provide us, and through marine pollution and debris, illegal and destructive fishing practices, and the man-made effects of climate change, we are severely testing the ability of the oceans and seas to maintain significant life for the sustenance of generations to come.
If SDG14 is going to succeed, and succeed it must, we have to harness the best knowledge, solutions, energies, economic resources and good will that we can all put forward that will also elevate SDG’s implementation and ultimately the success of the conference.
Before us is a unique opportunity for civil society, the private sector and Government, to harness this process and combine our collective energies, ideas and even interests, to build a national position that is both cognisant of the enormous challenges plaguing our ocean and forwarding-looking.
We will look the outcomes of your successful meeting in the two days ahead. I congratulate all stakeholders present here today and I also urge you to join hands in our efforts to save the ocean through SDG14’s successful implementation. Thank you