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Opinion

Joint Regional Paper Ready For June At UN

Joint Regional Paper Ready For June At UN
April 05
11:32 2017

The outcome document following the preparatory meeting of regional leaders for the UN Oceans Conference is ready.

In this document, leaders from the region have affirmed their commitment towards Sustainable Development Goal 14 – the goal dedicated to safeguarding the oceans. Leaders and key stakeholders met in Suva at the Grand Pacific Hotel from 15 to 17 March.

This meeting was to set the pace for the UN Ocean Conference which is being co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden in New York in June.

In the outcomes document, the heads of states have called on the international partners to honour the Paris Agreement.

US President Donald Trump has already indicated that America, under his leadership, may pull out of the Paris Agreement.

The heads of Pacific Island states have also called onto the United Nations and “countries responsible” to clean the ocean of any World War II relics and immediately start on clean up and restoration works.

 

The outcomes:

  1. A Joint declaration by Pacific island countries and territories to significantly improve ocean governance including through strengthening existing instruments and where necessary, the development of comprehensive frameworks to sustainably manage, conserve and develop our ocean and its resources across all maritime zones, before 2020, with the goal of full implementation by 2030.

This supports the moral platform for leadership by Pacific island countries and territories on the global stage and momentum for action at all levels for integrated Ocean management coupled with Climate action by committing to: sustainably manage and conserve and develop our inshore, coastal and offshore resources premised on the principle of rights based management, following the time-honoured traditions of with Government and other key stakeholders, to ensure our food security, livelihoods and wellbeing, environmental integrity and resilience; and to sustainably manage the areas within our maritime boundaries and EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones) using appropriate planning tools, targeted capacity building and the most effective management tools, based on information sharing, evidence and best practices taking into account the special circumstances of SIDS and LDCs. We should sustainably manage our ancestral domain, including areas under our national jurisdictions and the enclosed and adjacent high seas given the transboundary effects of our actions and those of others for “People, Planet and Prosperity”. Currently Cook Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Palau and Vanuatu have provided leadership in committing to integrated ocean management of their maritime and exclusive economic zones and several other Pacific Island countries are considering positions.

  1. Implement actions for a cleaner Pacific at all levels and call for global action to reduce plastics and all forms of pollution by 2025. This commitment engages Pacific island countries and Territories to update and implement national policies to control pollution and waste from land and preventing the ocean being used as dumping grounds. Pacific island countries and territories are encouraged to fast track policies on the use of plastic bags and plastic and Styrofoam packaging. It is also recognised that the cause of pollution to our oceans extends beyond the Pacific Islands region and calls for further engagement with Pacific Rim States for action on pollution.
  2. Action on nuclear waste, radioactive and other contaminants, shipwrecks and World War II relics. We call on the United Nations and the countries responsible to undertake urgent action to reduce and eliminate any threat posed to our people and ecosystems by the presence of nuclear waste, radioactive and other contaminants, shipwrecks and World War II relics. To this end, and in particular, the immediate clean up and restoration efforts in areas concerned be undertaken without further delay.
  3. A global operational observing system for Ocean Acidification & Ocean Health. To enhance the current operational observing systems for monitoring and modelling marine weather, oceans and marine life, to include necessary data on acidification and ocean health that will inform responses.

This should include necessary data on linkages of the ocean with climate change and sea level rise, climate variability and extreme weather events. This should carry forward into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

  1. Explore the feasibility of mechanisms for blue carbon and other potential benefits to be derived from healthy oceans.

The ocean including through coastal blue carbon ecosystems, mangroves, tidal marshes, seagrasses, is a globally significant carbon sink. It plays an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Call for a partnership of the willing to look at the role of healthy oceans – to identify the users and activities that contribute towards upkeep and management of healthy oceans that will maintain services and deliver benefits to Pacific island countries. This should be taken into the UNFCCC.

  1. Mobilise new resources and align and target existing ones to deliver integrated ocean management commitments. Explore appropriate funding mechanisms to leverage the resources required to support sustainable ocean management, including exploring innovative financing and the possibility of a Blue Fund. Strengthen national economic planning in support of strong national support systems in order to allocate requisite resources to deliver against national and regional ocean priorities. This would help to clearly articulate and leverage the additional resources needed to enable comprehensive, long term delivery of policy for oceans.
  2. Triennial UN Ocean Summits, supported by regional and sub-regional ocean summits until 2030.

This ensures continued attention and focus on Oceans for the transformative change that is demanded. It will ensure a strong monitoring and accountability mechanism of the commitments and actions needed to deliver SDG14.

  1. Invest in Data and Information Systems. The acquisition of ocean data and information and consolidating these to ensure ease of sharing and access is essential to improve our understanding and inform decisions to deliver on enduring SDG14 outcomes.

We stress the importance of building capacity for Pacific island countries, in particular, on the collection, analysis and management of data for decision making. A Pacific Ocean Portal would facilitate improved access and use.

  1. Formalise maritime boundaries and secure rights over resources. Pacific Island Countries, should, in accordance with their national interest, take the necessary steps to finalise their maritime boundaries and to deposit their base-points geographical co-ordinates and charts with the United Nations, to establish and secure their rights and responsibilities over these large areas of ocean.

A united regional effort that establishes and secures international recognition of our baselines and maritime zones, whilst appreciating national circumstances, will assist in permanently protecting the integrity of our maritime zones from the impacts of climate change.

  1. We acknowledge and recognise the linkages between SDG14, SDG13 and SDG 11. We call on all parties to implement their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

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