Ocean Action Hub

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Highlights and images of main proceedings for 1 June 2021

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Volkan Bozkır, convened this one-day High-level Event on the Ocean, four years after the 2017 UN Ocean Conference, to drum up momentum by enabling a review of progress and actions required in the lead up to the Second UN Ocean Conference to conven in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given humanity a first-hand experience of what an unhealthy planet has in store for its residents. Increased awareness of the need for nature-based solutions has also increased the appetite for change, including through green and blue recovery strategies. The Ocean, which is suffering from  triple planetary crises, namely climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, also offers avenues for a blue post-pandemic recovery.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Event on the Ocean took place at UN Headquarters with many participants joining virtually from around the world due to travel constraints caused by the ongoing pandemic. The event aimed to highlight progress made on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 on life below water, and address, among others, the impacts of the pandemic on the Ocean economy, and opportunities and challenges to achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

During opening remarks, Volkan Bozkir, UNGA President, said that there is no scenario where humans can prosper without the Ocean. He noted that since SDG 14 targets are among the first to mature, four of which were meant to be achieved by 2020, we must ensure we are prepared to upscale actions at the Second UN Ocean Conference. Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, pointed out how six years after the inauguration of the SDGs, progress on Ocean action has been more tangible compared to the “indifferent waters we sailed before SDG 14.”

The meeting took place through four panel sessions. Read about them in the full article here: https://enb.iisd.org/ocean/UNGA/high-level-event-ocean/highlights-and-im...

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Five Ocean-based Solutions Can Support SDGs, Pandemic Recovery

22 Oct 2020 - SDG Knowledge Platform - During the inaugural Ocean Stewardship Annual Review, CEOs addressed five "tipping points" for a healthy and productive ocean.

The five areas for actions are: fully traceable sustainable seafood; decarbonized shipping; harnessing ocean electricity; mapping the ocean; and ending waste entering the ocean. The outcome documents makes recommendations for how businesses can support each tipping point.

The UN Global Compact held the inaugural Ocean Stewardship Annual Review, aiming to identify critical actions for the ocean to support the Decade of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.The Ocean Stewardship Annual Review brought together more than 50 CEOs, policymakers, and civil society leaders for a high-level meeting on 21 September 2020, on the sidelines of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The event underscored that accelerating ocean-based solutions can support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and delivery of the SDGs. 

According to the UN Global Compact’s Ocean Stewardship 2030 report released in May 2020, five tipping points could secure a healthy and productive ocean. These are: 

  1. Fully traceable sustainable seafood;
  2. Decarbonized shipping (“set sail for zero”);
  3. Harnessing ocean electricity;
  4. Mapping the ocean; and
  5. Ending waste entering the ocean. 

During the review event, five CEO Roundtables addressed these tipping points. The review resulted in an Outcome Document of the 2020 CEO Roundtables on Ocean, identifying actions business can take to advance the five areas. On sustainable seafood, the outcome document recommends: contributing to standardize traceability data, harmonize standards and promote interoperability of traceability platforms through the seafood value chain; and increasing the recognition of seafood in the climate and food agendas.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://sdg.iisd.org/news/five-ocean-based-solutions-can-support-sdgs-pandemic-recovery/

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No “Ocean Super-Year” without Marine Regions - Peter Thomson, Alexander Müller, Julien Rochette & Sebastian Unger

5 Feb 2020 - SDG Knowledge Hub - This new decade starts at a critical moment for the future of the Ocean.

5 Feb 2020 - SDG Knowledge Hub - This new decade starts at a critical moment for the future of the Ocean. There is strong agreement among experts that decisions taken in the next ten years will be critical for the future of the Ocean. The current ecological crisis demands a radical shift in the way we treat the marine environment, its precious wildlife, and its invaluable natural resources. We are witnessing continued loss of biodiversity, overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and many other serious impacts from human activities – all compounded by climate change, Ocean deoxygenation and acidification. The 2019 IPBES ‘Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ warns that 66% of the Ocean is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts from human activities and the 2019 IPCC ‘Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ highlights the impacts that climate change has already had on our Blue Planet.

2020 has been announced by Ocean advocates as a possible “super-year for the Ocean”, with several opportunities to put the Ocean and seas on a sustainable pathway. At the Marine Regions Forum 2019, over 200 participants from the world’s different marine regions agreed that marine regions have a key role to make this year a success.

The development of regional governance for the conservation and sustainable use of the Ocean is unquestionably a cornerstone of international marine policy.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/guest-articles/no-ocean-super-year-without-marine-regions/

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Oceans Action Day at COP 25 Reaffirms Importance of Ocean-climate Nexus

13 Dec 2019 - Oceans Action Day included a number of high-level panel sessions. Speakers stressed the need to “break down the silos” between the ocean, biodiversity, and climate.

13 Dec 2019 - Oceans Action Day included a number of high-level panel sessions. Speakers stressed the need to “break down the silos” between the ocean, biodiversity, and climate. Panelists expressed hope that 2020 NDCs will contain nature-based solutions.

Oceans Action Day took place during the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain, to assess existing ocean and climate action, identify gaps that need to be addressed and reaffirm the importance of the ocean-climate nexus.

The event convened on 7 December and was hosted by the Governments of Japan, Chile and the UK. The Day featured a number of high-level panel sessions.

During the discussion on the ocean and climate nexus within the UNFCCC and beyond, panelists highlighted, inter alia:

  • the ocean as integral to achieving multiple SDGs;
  • nature-based solutions such as the International Blue Carbon Initiative, which focuses on mitigation through blue carbon restoration, and the Blue Action Fund, established by Sweden, France and Germany, that will support investment in nature-based solutions;
  • the Commonwealth Blue Charter, which puts the ocean and island nations at the center of climate solutions;
  • the need for integrated approaches on the effects of land-based activities on the marine environment;
  • the importance of a common narrative encompassing the needs of all ocean-dependent people; and
  • the need for a “blue outcome” at the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://sdg.iisd.org/news/oceans-action-day-at-cop-25-reaffirms-importance-of-ocean-climate-nexus/

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IOC Assembly Welcomes Progress on SDG 14 and Cooperation on Ocean-Climate Nexus

22 Jul 2019 - SDG Knowledge Hub - The Assembly recognized the Commission’s progress in developing accepted methodologies for measuring SDG target 14.3 on ocean acidification and SDG target

22 Jul 2019 - SDG Knowledge Hub - The Assembly recognized the Commission’s progress in developing accepted methodologies for measuring SDG target 14.3 on ocean acidification and SDG target 14.a on marine scientific research.

  • The Assembly agreed to support countries to formulate ocean-related climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and on further cooperation and research on the ocean-climate nexus.
  • The Assembly encouraged the IOC Secretariat to strengthen joint activities in support of the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The 30th session of the Assembly of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) reviewed progress on the Commission’s work, and agreed on future priorities. The Assembly welcomed the Commission’s progress on elevating awareness on SDG 14 (life below water) and the Commission’s role in developing accelerated methodologies for SDG 14 indicators.

The 30th session of the IOC Assembly convened from 26 June to 4 July at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The Assembly is composed of 150 member States, and is charged with establishing IOC-UNESCO’s general policy and main areas of work.

The Assembly acknowledged the IOC’s role in advancing increased visibility on SDG 14. IOC-UNESCO is the custodian agency for the indicators for SDG target 14.3 on ocean acidification, and SDG target 14.a on marine scientific research. The Assembly recognized the Commission’s progress in developing accepted methodologies for measuring these two indicators, both of which are now classified as Tier II indicators. According to the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), a Tier II indicator has a clear methodology but inadequate data. Countries can now begin collecting global data for both indicators.

Continue reading online here: https://sdg.iisd.org/news/ioc-assembly-welcomes-progress-on-sdg-14-indicators-supports-cooperation-on-ocean-climate-nexus/

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SDG Summit Outcome Document Agreed, includes reference to marine plastic litter for first time

5 Jul 2019 - UNGA President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said she looks forward to its adoption "by consensus" during the opening session of the Summit, on 24 September.

5 Jul 2019 - UNGA President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said she looks forward to its adoption "by consensus" during the opening session of the Summit, on 24 September.

  • UN Member States have reached agreement on the outcome document of the SDG Summit.
  • The final text includes "discharge of plastic litter into the oceans" among the issues on which progress is slow, and which could bring disastrous consequences for humanity.

UN Member States have reached agreement on the outcome document of the SDG Summit. The final text includes a reference to marine plastic litter that had not appeared in the previous versions.

The SDG Summit is the meeting of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to be convened under the auspices of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) at the level of Heads of State and Government, from 24-25 September 2019. The UNGA is expected to adopt the political declaration during the opening session of the Summit.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://sdg.iisd.org/news/sdg-summit-outcome-document-agreed-by-un-member-states/

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WTO Fisheries Negotiations: Failure Is Not An Option - Rémi Parmentier

1 Jul 2019 - SDG 14 target 14.6 establishes the need to reach agreement on eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies “by 2020” – i.e. before the end of this year.

1 Jul 2019 - SDG 14 target 14.6 establishes the need to reach agreement on eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies “by 2020” – i.e. before the end of this year.

  • The WTO negotiations on eliminating certain types of fisheries subsidies - the main driver of overfishing - must be completed by the end of 2019.
  • China recently proposed capping such subisdies with exceptions to be included in a “green box” of exemptions, which we argue should include only subsidies that improve biodiversity conservation; this would force fishing interests to prove they are not hurting ocean life.
  • Now is the time to demonstrate that multilateral negotiations – and the WTO itself – can play a positive role on the global stage.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/guest-articles/wto-fisheries-negotiations-failure-is-not-an-option/

Photo: Duangphorn Wiriya on Unsplash

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WWF Initiative Aims to Help Companies Translate Commitments on Plastic into Measurable Action

24 May 2019 - WWF has launched an “activation hub” to help companies and organizations translate commitments to reduce or eliminate plastic into measurable action. The hub is part of WWF’s global ‘No Plastic in Nature’ campaign, which tackles marine litter and plastic consumption as part of efforts to protect the world’s biodiversity and oceans.

  • Companies and organizations are committing to tackle plastic pollution but many lack a concrete way to implement their commitments.
  • Through ReSource, WWF will help member companies to “maximize, measure and multiply their impact” on addressing the plastic pollution crisis.
  • Six companies have signed on to ReSource as Principal Members: The Coca-Cola Company; Keurig Dr Pepper; McDonald’s; Procter and Gamble; Starbucks; and Tetra Pak.

24 May 2019 - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched an “activation hub” to help companies and organizations translate commitments to reduce or eliminate plastic into measurable action. The hub is part of WWF’s global ‘No Plastic in Nature’ campaign, which tackles marine litter and plastic consumption as part of efforts to protect the world’s biodiversity and oceans.

According to WWF, “just 100 companies could prevent 10 million tons of plastic waste.” WWF observes that companies and organizations are committing to tackle plastic pollution but many lack a concrete way to implement their commitments. In a recent publication titled, ‘No Plastic in Nature: A Practical Guide for Business Engagement,’ WWF analyzed the causes and scope of the global plastic crisis, and outlined a guide for businesses to lead a “plastics revolution.” This guide provided the vision for designing the ‘ReSource: Plastic’ activation hub. ReSource aims to promote a systems-based approach to tackling plastic production, consumption, waste management and recycling as a single system.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://sdg.iisd.org/news/wwf-initiative-aims-to-help-companies-translate-commitments-on-plastic-into-measurable-action/

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Special Edition of SDG Progress Report Finds Need for ‘Trajectory Shift’

20 May 2019 - The Report demonstrates slow progress on Goals including SDGs 14 and 15 with biodiversity being lost “at an alarming rate” with one million species facing extinction and invasive species and illegal wildlife trafficking continue to undermine efforts to protect and restore ecosystems and species. 

20 May 2019 - The UN Secretary-General has released the advance, unedited version of his annual report on progress towards the SDGs. The report identifies cross-cutting areas where political leadership and urgent, scalable multi-stakeholder action are critical to shift the world onto a trajectory compatible with achieving the SDGs by 2030. The 2019 SDG Progress Report finds that progress has been made on a number of SDGs and targets over the past four years. On SDG 14 (life below water), the proportion of waters under national jurisdiction covered by marine protected areas (MPAs) has increased more than two-fold since 2010.

However, the SDG Progress Report also demonstrates slow progress on many Goals.  On SDGs 14 and 15 (life on land), biodiversity is being lost “at an alarming rate” with one million species facing extinction, many within decades. Invasive species and illegal wildlife trafficking continue to undermine efforts to protect and restore ecosystems and species. 

Despite these positive signs of progress, the report observes that the shift in development pathways needed to meet the SDGs by 2030 is “not yet advancing at the speed or scale required.” The SDG Progress Report expresses a number of other concerns related to SDG implementation, monitoring and review, including the availability of timely, disaggregated data across all countries, targets and indicators. Other challenges addressed in the report include: challenges in multilateral cooperation; intensified conflict and instability, which have reversed progress made; and increased challenges as a result of disasters, particularly among vulnerable developing countries.

The report calls for world leaders to have an “honest and frank reflection on our current direction” in September 2019, stressing that a much greater urgency and ambition in the SDG response is required, particularly on climate change. The report cautions that a failure to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change will “directly threaten attainment of all other SDGs.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://sdg.iisd.org/news/special-edition-of-sdg-progress-report-finds-need-for-trajectory-shift/

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Researchers Call for Efforts to Quantify “Social Cost of Marine Plastic”

10 Apr 2019 - An article published in Marine Pollution Bulletin takes a first step at calculating the cost of marine plastic pollution and finds that all ecosystem services are im

10 Apr 2019 - An article published in Marine Pollution Bulletin takes a first step at calculating the cost of marine plastic pollution and finds that all ecosystem services are impacted by marine plastic pollution to at least some extent. The authors warn that reduction in ecosystem service provision will have negative impacts on human health and well-being, and recommends a global transition in the way the world makes, uses and reuses plastic.

The article titled, ‘Global Ecological, Social and Economic Impacts of Marine Plastic,’ synthesizes currently available research to conduct a global assessment of the “ecological, ecosystem service” and social and economic impacts of marine plastic, including examining the drivers, sources and distribution of marine plastics. The assessment finds that the presence of marine plastic impacts all ecosystem services and reduces the provision predicted for all these ecosystem services, with one exception (“regulation of the chemical condition of salt waters by living processes”). In particular, the article identifies the negative impacts of marine plastic pollution on three critical ecosystem services: provision of fisheries, aquaculture and materials for agricultural use; heritage, or the cultural and emotional importance to individuals of charismatic marine organisms, such as turtles; and experiential recreation, with visitors choosing to spend less time in recreational areas with litter or being exposed to sharp debris or unsanitary items. The authors further caution that shifts in biodiversity and an altered marine environment can lead to additional impacts, including impairing ecosystem recovery and resilience.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://sdg.iisd.org/news/researchers-call-for-efforts-to-quantify-social-cost-of-marine-plastic/

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