NATION

Big Oceans Discussion Starts

Regional officials yesterday gathered to commence discussions leading towards the United Nations Oceans Conference, scheduled to be held in New York in June. Officials from non-government organisations, the diplomatic corps
16 Mar 2017 11:00
Big Oceans Discussion Starts
Representatives from the Oceania region at the Pacific Regional Preparatory meeting for "The Ocean Conference" at the Grand Pacific Hotel yesterday.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.

Regional officials yesterday gathered to commence discussions leading towards the United Nations Oceans Conference, scheduled to be held in New York in June.

Officials from non-government organisations, the diplomatic corps and members from regional governments met at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva for the first set of meetings, before the regional leaders’ meeting on Friday.

Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau opened the regional preparatory meeting by reminding those present that the Pacific was united in its concerns about the declining state of our oceans.

“Oceans provide a common thread that unites our region, and when we consider that collectively our combined Exclusive Economic Zones amounts to more than 30 million square-kilometres, it helps to frame for us in a sobering way, the enormity of the discussions that await us in the coming days.

“No doubt, we all want clean beaches with pristine waters, healthy fisheries and safe seafood, abundant wildlife, vibrant coastal communities and resilient coastal economies.

“Regrettably, scientists have revealed that we have reached the tipping point for our ocean and its resources, and we must act now to reverse this grave trend.”

The 2030 Agenda, with Sustainable Development Goal 14 on oceans represents, he said, was our last chance.

Mr Koroilavesau reminded the regional officials that the Oceans Conference was an opportunity for the Pacific to be heard and it was important that this opportunity was maximised.

“The SDG 14 provides a global roadmap that paves the way for humanity to once and for all salvage our ocean from its current cycle of decline.

“SDG14 is something we in the Pacific can take pride in, as it is through our dedicated efforts in New York that SDG14 was adopted. And now we must make SDG14 work.

“Through the Ocean Conference we have an opportunity to achieve it. Let us maximise on this opportunity!”

The objective of this regional meeting is to allow all to consolidate their regional perspectives that will be taken up to the Ocean Conference in June.

“In the next few days, all of you here in this room, including governments, regional agencies, civil society, private sector and academia will be deliberating around a common perspective and approach.

“The challenge for us is to get clarity on how we will journey together with a common voice on our shared priorities, after this week’s meeting.”

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