By: Shilpi Chhotray, Mission Blue
June 5th marks the first day of the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference, a major conference energizing efforts to promote ocean sustainability. Dr. Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue are thrilled to be partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, life below water. SDG 14 aims to: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The Ocean Conference, the first UN conference of its kind, coincides with World Environment Day and World Oceans Day on Thursday (June 8th).
The Ocean Conference will not only serve as a place to raise awareness of the state of the ocean but call upon global leaders and advocates to generate new dialogues and partnerships aimed at implementing solutions. According to a recent Ocean Conference press briefing:
“The United Nations will bring together Heads of State, Heads of Government and other high-level delegates, representatives from civil society organizations, the business community intergovernmental and UN agencies as well as renowned personalities, and other ocean and marine life advocates at the Ocean Conference on 5 to 9 June to spur action to improve the state of the world’s oceans.”
The conference presents an invaluable opportunity for countries, the UN System, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector, media, and the general public to mobilize urgent and tangible action to reverse the cycle of ocean decline. The Governments of Fiji and Sweden are co-hosting the Conference, with major input from global leaders.
Check out the special message from Dr. Sylvia Earle below on why the ocean matters and why we need to protect it:
Call for Action
A growing number of countries, businesses and civil society groups are stepping forward with new commitments to improve the health of the world’s oceans. A total of 160 voluntary commitments (registered in Mid-May) will support the implementation of SDG14. The Ocean Conference explains:
“Among commitments to-date are projects to protect coral reefs and coastal zones in Grenada and Bali; a commitment to increase ocean conservation philanthropy, and Belgium’s commitment to prepare a national action plan to combat marine litter that will contain several cleaning activities such as the removal of fishing nets from ship wrecks and beach clean ups.”
Mission Blue is proud to be voluntarily committing to the creation of 30 new ocean Hope Spots by 2020 in support of United Nations SDG14. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean. With this commitment, Mission Blue promises to showcase to the world the passion, efforts, and progress towards conservation of 30 new Hope Spots.
To date, a total of 85 Hope Spots have been designated. In 2016, the Hope Spot Council named a total of 19 new Hope Spots. These Hope Spots include current and future Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) worldwide, and existing Hope Spots have been the catalyst for the decisions on many MPA designations. Awareness and engagement with the concept of Hope Spots is strengthening every month, and Mission Blue commits to the designation of 30 additional Hope Spots by January 1, 2020.
An Integrated Vision
SDG 14 specifically highlights the need to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, including through preventing and significantly reducing marine pollution, minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, sustainably managing, protecting and conserving marine and coastal ecosystems, ending overfishing and unregulated fishing, and increasing the economic benefits to SIDS from the sustainable use of marine resources. The targets of SDG 14 outline the areas where progress is needed.
With conference topics ranging from marine protected areas, overfishing, acidification, climate change, underwater robotics, and plastics and marine debris- there’s no shortage of issue areas to galvanize action on. The seven partnership dialogues of the Conference will be interactive and action-oriented. The panels are composed of expert panelists and moderators chaired by 14 co-chairs from Indonesia, Norway, Palau, Italy, Mozambique, Monaco, Senegal, Canada, Grenada, Estonia, Peru, Iceland, Kenya and Australia.
“Whether you look at the declining fish stock that is reaching a tipping point or the ocean acidification level or the level of plastics in our oceans, I think any sensible person can conclude that time is running out and we need to take action fast.” – President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson
The Mission Blue team will be on the ground covering a broad range of events on social media and interviewing global ocean experts on Facebook LIVE. Be sure to tune in June 5th-9th to catch interviews with world renowned leaders like Dr. Sylvia Earle!
Join us in celebrating the blue heart of our planet: #saveourocean
Feature photo: United Nations