24 Oct 2017 - Solutions to address human-induced “Ocean Change” are needed to save life in the ocean and reverse the cycle of decline in which it is caught, according to Fiji’s Ambassador Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean.
Peter Thomson, who was visiting the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, said that as a Fijian, he had personally witnessed the degradation of the marine environment in his lifetime, citing marine litter and coral bleaching as just two examples.
“As a grandfather I find these changes tragic. It is time for us to implement the solutions to ocean’s many problems,” he said.
Special Envoy Thomson told a briefing of IMO senior staff that the UN Ocean Conference, held in New York in June 2017, had demonstrated a clear will and commitment by all sectors of the ocean community to support the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14. SDG14 calls for the world to conserve and sustainably use the resources of the ocean for sustainable development.
“We are all aware of ‘Climate Change’; but we need to talk more about ‘Ocean Change’ and the effects of acidification, warming, plastic pollution, dead zones and so on,” Thomson said. “The world must know that we have a plan to save the ocean. As it stands, SDG14 represents the only universal commitment we have to save life in the ocean for our grandchildren to enjoy. We have a strategy to drive SDG14 and what is required over the next three years is concerted action.”
The UN Ocean Conference resulted in a firm Call for Action declaration, subsequently adopted by consensus at the UN General Assembly, to support the implementation of SDG14. More than 1,400 voluntary commitments have been pledged as a result the conference and these are now being shaped into Communities of Ocean Action.
Special Envoy Thomson said he would be working closely with these communities to ensure the commitments were being developed and implemented into meaningful ocean action.
He said he would be cooperating with Member States and the UN system to optimize the effectiveness of UN-Oceans, the UN’s inter-agency mechanism for ocean action. Equally important, he said, would be his work with civil society, the scientific community, the business sector, and other relevant stakeholders, to coalesce and encourage their activities in support of the implementation of SDG 14.
Thomson emphasized that IMO, as the United Nations agency responsible for developing and adopting measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent pollution from ships, had an integral role to play in the effort to meet SDG14’s targets.
IMO has adopted regulations to protect the marine environment from ships, including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL), and the Ballast Water Management Convention, which aims to prevent the spread of potentially harmful aquatic invasive species.