high-level event focuses on healthy oceans | News | SDG Knowledge Center
The United Nations General Assembly hosted a high-level event to boost the achievement of SDG 14 (life underwater). The event took place ahead of the Second United Nations Ocean Conference in Portugal in 2022, which was delayed from 2020 due to COVID-19, hampering the assessment of progress on Target 14.
The hybrid in-person / virtual event took place on June 1, 2020, which was also the annual World Reef Awareness Day.
During the opening session, the host of the 2022 Conference addressed the participants. Portuguese Minister of the Sea, Ricardo Serrão Santos, said the conference aims to make the ocean inclusive and connected. UNGA President Volkan Bozkir said the world has become more aware that a healthy ocean is the key to a healthy economy. Raychelle Omamo, Secretary of Kenya’s Foreign Cabinet, said financial solutions, information sharing and technological capacity building could help developing countries step up their actions on SDG 14.
Discussions underscored the inclusive nature of green-blue solutions, given regional inequalities and differences in resilience to ocean degradation.
Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, said the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences (2021-2030) will play a leading role in the fight against ocean acidification, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and marine pollution, which remain unchanged. He added that marine organisms are being suffocated and depleted, not only by the impacts of climate change, but also by plastic pollution. Maggie Q, advocate for SDG 14 and founder of QEEP UP, said coral reefs cover only 1% of the ocean floor, but are responsible for food, shelter and breeding grounds for 25% of all marine species.
A series of round tables focused on the four targets of SDG 14 with a deadline of 2020:
- protect and restore marine and coastal ecosystems (14.2);
- end unreported fishing and overfishing, and destructive fishing practices (14.4);
- conservation of coastal and marine areas (14.5); and
- eliminate subsidies harmful to fisheries (14.6).
Delegates discussed a “triple P” approach to ocean restoration – protect, produce and thrive. They also called for the conclusion of negotiations at the next session of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the ban on harmful fisheries subsidies. Delegates also called on the UN to facilitate a legally binding and strong global treaty to tackle marine plastics.
Speakers linked ocean action to a sustainable recovery from COVID-19, calling for ‘blue economy’ policies to be the cornerstone of recovery, as a transition to a low-emission green economy carbon-efficient and resource efficient requires transformations in the ocean and seas.
Discussions also highlighted regional inequalities and differences in the ability to cope with and recover from the impacts of ocean degradation. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reported that the high-level event, “accepting the challenge of developing more inclusive solutions,” expressed optimism that a green-blue recovery from the pandemic is possible.
the Second United Nations Ocean Conference is scheduled to meet in Lisbon, Portugal, “as soon as public health conditions permit” in 2022. The first United Nations Ocean Conference was held in New York, USA, in 2017. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin meeting coverage]