16 May 2017 - Located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Fiji is blessed with around 300 tropical islands that are home to some of the happiest people on Earth.
Fiji is an island nation with more than 50 per cent of the total population living along the coast, heavily dependent on subsistence fishing, whose fisheries and aquaculture contribute to more than $136 million towards GDP. At the same time, Fiji is losing more than two percent of her coral reefs per year.
Fiji, like any other Small Island Developing State (SIDS), acknowledges that our ocean is in great danger. Covering 72 percent of the Earth and supplying half its oxygen, the people of Fiji appreciate that the ocean is our planet's life support system. In one way or another, we are all connected to the ocean regardless of where we are from. Our planet depends on the vitality of the ocean to support and sustain it.
Unfortunately, our ocean faces major threats: global climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and a dramatic decrease in ocean fish stocks. These threats are so extensive that more than 40 percent of the ocean has been severely affected. Consequently, humanity is losing the food, jobs, and critical environmental services that a healthy ocean generates.
The sustainable use and preservation of marine and coastal ecosystems and their biological diversity is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda, especially in SIDS. Like any SIDS, Fiji continues to face key challenges in the sustainable management of its marine and coastal ecosystems. These challenges can be framed broadly under the three categories of: policy and institutional coherence, data and information sharing and sustainable oceans management approach.
In June 2017, Fiji will co-preside with Sweden the Oceans Conference in New York. This is the first of the High Level Conferences on one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The overarching theme of the Conference is, 'Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14'. The significance of this event and this SDG is not only obvious but our very survival as humanity depends on it.