12 June 2017 - The Ocean Conference (5-9 June) co-hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Sweden brought an unprecedented show of global unity around the need to tackle the crisis in the oceans. In addition to adoption of the “Call for Action”, by the close of the conference on Friday, 9 June, a total of 1,328 voluntary commitments to ocean protection and restoration, cutting across all 10 SDG14 targets, had been made on the on-line conference registry. 84 governments that made 598 (45%) commitments represented the entity submitting the largest number, followed by NGOs (259, 20%) and the UN System (108, 8%).
As a key contributor to this effort, UNDP submitted 39 voluntary commitments representing a range of initiatives at the global, regional, national and local levels, to address key ocean challenges from overfishing to pollution to invasive species. These commitments represent a wide range of multi-stakeholder partnerships involving governments, UN agencies, development partners, private sector, civil society and local communities. UNDP is already working with more than 100 countries to help restore and protect the oceans and better manage our stressed marine resources.
“The Ocean Conference amply exceeded its objective to call the world’s attention on the deplorable state of our oceans. It made the link between sustainable development, ocean action and climate action – across countries, regions, continents and seas. The Call for Action is urgent as the underlying causes are multiple, and the responses complex. A long list of important Voluntary Commitments allows for optimism, as many actions are already underway or planned. Opportunities for new partnerships, exchange of information and sharing of experience have emerged from the Ocean Conference. UNDP has been an active participant reflecting the work of the organisation at the country level. Existing and new ocean commitments on protecting the oceans from pollution, overfishing, acidification, poor tourism and urban planning and unsustainable development will be UNDP’s deliverables for the time to come – moving from awareness-raising to the implementation of solutions” said Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.
A few examples of UNDP’s submitted voluntary commitments include:
- At the global level, UNDP and IMO announced a new GEF-financed project, GloFouling, which aims to assist developing countries to reduce the risk of marine invasive species transfer via the fouling of ship hulls and other mobile marine infrastructure. The project will also engage the private sector to catalyse innovative technological and other solutions to reduce marine biofouling.
- At the regional level, UNDP announced a new GEF-financed project that will support Peru and Chile in the ecosystem-based fisheries management and habitat restoration in the Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem, the world’s largest single species fishery. By helping these countries to recover and sustainably utilize fisheries resources, reduce pollution, and protect key biodiversity, the project will help ensure food security, livelihoods and ocean-based sectors for those who depend on these.
- At the national level, UNDP announced new projects with the Government of China and Grenada focusing on strengthening marine protected area network. In China, the project will safeguard south eastern sea - a critical habitat for Chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis). The project will strengthen the legal framework for marine protected areas, integrate the protection of marine habitats into marine spatial planning including the application of ecologically sensitive areas, and expanding marine protected areas by 40,000 ha. In Grenada, the GEF financed project will implement a ridge to reef approach to protecting biodiversity and ecosystem functions within and around marine protected areas.
- At the local level, the grantee of the GEF Small Grants Programme, implemented by UNDP, has announced protection for one hundred coral colonies in the blue bay lagoon in Mauritius. In Malaysia, a project that incentivize local community to collect waste (including plastic bottles) and manage waste disposal facility for the fishing villages of Pangkor Island was announced. There were total of 36 entries of local voluntary commitments through the Small Grants Programme partners this week.
In the run-up to the Conference, with the generous support of Sweden, UNDP created and managed the Ocean Action Hub (www.oceanactionhub.org ) which played a key role in mobilizing awareness, support and partnerships for the Ocean Conference. The hub helped facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement by bringing together governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, NGOs, civil society organizations, academic institutions, the scientific community, private sector, philanthropic organizations and other ocean actors. Also with Swedish support, UNDP organized 27 SDG14 National Consultations to help build conference momentum and assist countries to identify and submit voluntary commitments. In several cases these consultations led to large numbers of voluntary commitments from countries such as Honduras (79) and Mauritius (13) and several more are planned post-conference.