Ocean Action Hub

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The Ocean Conference: Voluntary Commitments - FAQs
Learn how to register a voluntary commitment for the Conference.
Download the FAQ brochure [English] - [Français] - [Español]

1. What are Voluntary Commitments for the Ocean Conference?

Voluntary Commitments for The Ocean Conference are initiatives or pledges undertaken by any stakeholder - individually or in partnership - that aim to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14). 

Voluntary Commitments are expected to be specific, quantifiable (where possible), focused on contributing to one or more target(s) under SDG 14.

2. What criteria do voluntary commitments need to fulfill?

Voluntary Commitments for The Ocean Conference are encouraged to:

  • Advance the implementation of SDG 14 and associated targets, reflecting inter-linkages between SDG 14 and other Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Respect the principles of the United Nations and the legal framework in force on the oceans;
  • Build on existing successful initiatives (scaling it up, new phase, etc.) or launch a new one.
  • Include means of implementation - such as finance or capacity building - as an element to help ensure sustainability of the initiative.
  • Follow the SMART Criteria - a commitment that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resource based, with Time-based deliverables.

3. What is the purpose of registering voluntary commitments for The Ocean Conference?

Member States have decided that a list of voluntary commitments will form a part of the official outcome of The Ocean Conference. The list will be produced at the end of the Conference for inclusion in the final Conference report, based on online registrations and announcements during the official proceedings of the Conference.

The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments will provide a broad platform for facilitating information sharing, fostering collaboration among a range of stakeholders, assessing where implementation is taking place, provide gap analysis, and catalysing additional action to address challenges that oceans and seas are facing.

4. WHO can register voluntary commitments for The Ocean Conference?

Anyone can register voluntary commitments for The Ocean Conference! This includes Governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations, academic and research institutions, the scientific community, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, the United Nations system, other intergovernmental organizations, international and regional financial institutions - individually or in partnership. Entities entering voluntary commitments are not required to be registered to attend the Ocean Conference itself.

5. What is the timeframe for a voluntary commitment?

Any commitment made since the SDGs were adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 can be registered. The registry will also remain open after the conference.

6. Our organization/entity has an existing voluntary commitment for SDG 14. Can it still be registered in The Ocean Conference Registry?

Yes. Submissions to The Ocean Conference Registry may include commitments that have been made since the adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (September 2015).

7. We already have a registered partnership or voluntary commitment in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform, or in the SIDS Action Platform, but wish to commit to SDG 14 and The Ocean Conference. Do we need to register again at The Ocean Conference Registry?

If your existing initiative meets the criteria for an SDG 14 voluntary commitment, you may update the existing initiative and add it to The Ocean Conference list of commitments directly.

8. WHERE should we register our voluntary commitment?

The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments, and the online registration form, are available on the Conference website at: https://oceanconference.un.org/commitments/

9. WHEN should we register our voluntary commitment?

The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments remains open and registrations can be made online. The UN Secretariat encourages voluntary commitments to be made online, and will highlight registered voluntary commitments and updates through its various outreach channels and social media campaigns.

10. What part of the information that we submit will appear publicly?

The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments relies on transparency by all parties, and therefore, all information submitted in the form will be made publicly available in the registry.

11. What will happen with The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments once the Conference has concluded?

The Ocean Conference Registry of Commitments remains open after the Conference, with all the details of voluntary commitments publicly accessible online. This facilitates continued information sharing, creation of SDG14 partnerships, and replication and upscaling of good practice as well as ongoing analysis of SDG 14 gaps and challenges.  The list of voluntary commitments made before 9 June 2017 is part of the report of the Conference, which will be part of the United Nations Official Document System (ods.un.org), also publicly available.

12. We have registered our voluntary commitment in the online registration form. How long will it take before it appears in The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments?

The Conference Secretariat will perform an editorial review of the submission to ensure that it adheres to the established criteria (see above). If there are any missing elements, the Secretariat will contact you through email to follow up. The Secretariat aims to publish new voluntary commitments after a maximum of two working days after the registration. 

13. If we have already registered a voluntary commitment, is it possible to update it?

Yes, you are encouraged to log in to your voluntary commitment and update it. 

14.  We are thinking of developing a voluntary commitment at a national/country level – where can we get further help?

  • The official Conference website provides information on the criteria for a voluntary commitment. 
  • The Ocean Action Hub provides information, resources, networks, and how to connect with other stakeholders to support the development of voluntary commitments. 
  • The United Nations Resident Coordinator Offices and the UNDP Country Offices in your country can also provide information and technical support.     
Download the FAQ brochure [English] - [Français] - [Español]

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FORUM: IMPLEMENTING INTERNATIONAL LAW AS REFLECTED IN UNCLOS

Join our discussion on "Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS)"(SDG 14.c), taking place online in advance of The Ocean Conference. From 3 - 23 April, we're seeking your ideas on:

  • What are the challenges faced in your area in implementing SDG 14.c?
  • What are the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' to implement SDG 14.c?
  • Please share any innovative partnerships - existing or proposed - aimed at implementing SDG 14.c.

Expert moderators Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli and Alice Hicuburundi, UN Office of Legal Affairs are looking forward to receiving your contributions.

Join the forum here >

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ONLINE FORUM: Economic benefits to SIDS, LDCs & small-scale artisanal fishers

Join our online discussion on Increasing economic benefits to SIDS and LDCs and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets (SDG 14.7 and 14.b), taking place online in advance of The Ocean Conference. From 27 March - 23 April, we're seeking your ideas on:

  • What are the challenges faced in your area in achieving targets 14.7 and 14.b and what will be the benefit of their implementation?
  • What are the priority actions which we can all rally around in achieving targets 14.7 and target 14.b by 2030 as stipulated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?
  • Please share any existing or new voluntary commitments undertaken, either individually or in partnership, that you are aware of and that aim to contribute to the implementation of targets 14.7 and 14.b and advance effective actions from local to global levels.

Expert moderators Irena Zubcevic (UN DESA and Björn Gillsäter (World Bank Group) are looking forward to receiving your contributions.

Join the discussion here >

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Online Forum:  Increasing scientific knowledge, research capacity & marine technology transfer

Join our discussion on Increasing scientific knowledge, research capacity and marine technology transfer, taking place online in advance of The Ocean Conference. From 27 March - 23 April, we're seeking your ideas on:

  • What are the challenges faced in your area in Increasing scientific knowledge, research capacity and/or marine technology transfer?
  • What are the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' to increasing scientific knowledge, research capacity and/or marine technology transfer?
  • Please share any innovative partnerships - existing or proposed - aimed at increasing scientific knowledge, research capacity and marine technology transfer.

Expert moderator Julian BARBIÈRE (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO), is looking forward to receiving your contributions.

Join the discussion here >

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Making Fisheries Sustainable Forum
Visit the forum here >

How can we make fisheries sustainable?

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p;Making Fisheries Sustainable took place online in advance of The Ocean Conference from 20 March - 7 April 2017, seeking ideas on:

  • What are the challenges faced in your area in making fisheries sustainable?
  • What are the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' to make fisheries sustainable?
  • Please share any innovative partnerships - existing or proposed - aimed at making fisheries sustainable.

Expert moderators Rebecca Metzner (FAO), Nicole Franz (FAO), Ratana Chuenpagdee, Memorial University, Canada and Joe Zelasney (FAO) guided the discussion.

Visit the forum here >

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Ocean Acidification – What it means and how to stop it
14 Mar 2017 - The ‘recipe’ for reversing ocean acidification is the same one as for climate change

14 Mar 2017 - ANDREW HUDSON, UNDP - In the Sustainable Development Goals, the world has set forth a bold new vision for global development and committed to achieving it by the year 2030. SDG 14 calls for us to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” While most of the targets in SDG 14 cover ocean issues and challenges that are well known to most, such as pollution and overfishing, one SDG 14 target, 14.3, may not be so familiar:

14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels.

What is ocean acidification, and why is it so important to ocean sustainability and therefore to the SDG agenda?

Chemistry 101

Let’s start with some basic chemistry concepts. Water can be either acidic, basic, or neutral, depending on the relative levels of hydrogen ions it contains. The higher the hydrogen level, the more acidic the solution. This characteristic is quantified in its pH, which runs on a scale from 0-14.

The scale is ‘logarithmic’ meaning that each increment of one is a 10-fold increase or decrease in hydrogen ion concentration. A pH below 7 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and above 7 is basic.

On the whole, the surface ocean clearly falls in the basic range, with pH ranging between 8.0 and 8.3. Marine organisms have evolved in and are therefore finely tuned to the pH of the seawater in which they reside. CONTINUE READING THIS BLOG POST HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2017/3/14/Ocean-Acidification-What-it-means-and-how-to-stop-it.html

Join the discussion!

We invite you to join the discussion in the recently launched ‘e-dialogue’ on ocean acidification challenges, actions and partnerships at the Ocean Action Hub’s Forum.

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ONLINE FORUM: Ensuring Sustainable Marine and Coastal Ecosystems - now closed
The online discussion took place during the preparatory process for The Ocean Conference in order to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on implementation of Targets 14.2 and 14.5.

The online discussion on Ensuring Sustainable Marine and Coastal Ecosystems is taking place during the preparatory process for The Ocean Conference in order to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on implementation of Targets 14.2 and 14.5 aiming to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems, including strengthening their resilience, to achieve healthy and productive oceans.

The discussion ran from 15 March - 5 April 2017 moderated by experts Peter Jones (University College London (UCL), Mary-Elizabeth Miller (UN FAO), Anthony Charles (Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada) and Ole Vestergaard (UN Environment).

The discussion took place online here: http://www.oceanactionhub.org/marine-ecosystems-discussion

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The way forward for reducing marine pollution - UNDP

6 Mar 2017 - Overall consumption of nutrients and plastics can be minimized via efficiency improvements, and systems and incentives put in place that promote their recovery, reuse and recycling.

In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this UNDP blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water”.

6 Mar 2017 - ANDREW HUDSON, UNDP - The Ocean Conference taking place this June at UN headquarters is a unique opportunity to promote and accelerate action, partnerships, commitment and progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, Life below water. The outcome will be a concise, focused, intergovernmentally agreed declaration in the form of a "Call for Action" to support the implementation of Goal 14.

The SDGs and the ocean

Goal 14 is part of the 2030 Agenda, adopted by world leaders in September 2015. It calls on us to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The SDGs set the global agenda for development through 2030 towards a vision of peace, prosperity and planetary health. And they include clear targets, against which we can measure progress.

The first target for SDG 14 is to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”.  Given the fact that 80 percent or more of the pollution reaching the ocean is land-based, SDG 14 is further complemented by two targets under SDG 6, on clean water and sanitation:

  • Target 6.3: improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally; and
  • Target 6.a: expand international cooperation and capacity building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies.

To achieve Target 6.3, wastewater treatment services need to be brought to an additional 2.32 billion people by 2030, an average of 154 million every year.

Nutrients – good for the ocean in limited quantities

Nutrients include various compounds of the chemicals nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients are essential to healthy marine ecosystems as they are utilized by marine phytoplankton, the floating, microscopic plants that are the base of the marine food chain.

However, in excess they cause a phenomenon called eutrophication, whereby excess nutrients lead to overgrowth of plankton. As they decay, plankton use up vital oxygen leading to low and even zero oxygen areas known as ‘hypoxic’ or ‘dead zones’, which can significantly damage ocean ecosystems and ocean-dependent economies and livelihoods. 

With the global increase in population and associated wastewater, much of it untreated, and the rapid growth in nitrogen fertilizer use (especially beginning with the 1950s ‘green revolution’), the overall burden of nutrients reaching our oceans has roughly tripled since pre-industrial times, and could double or triple again in the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario. This has led to a geometric increase in the number of hypoxic areas globally, now numbering over 500. In 2012, UNDP estimated that the annual socioeconomic damage from coastal hypoxia is between US$200 billion and US$800 billion per year, a major drag on economic progress and poverty reduction.

Plastics – the new ocean challenge

Paralleling the explosive growth of nutrient pollution and coastal hypoxia in the twentieth century was the tremendous growth in the manufacture and use of plastics in a wide myriad of products. Plastics pervade virtually every aspect of our material life.  Global production now exceeds 300 million metric tonnes per year; the global plastics recycling rate is roughly 25 percent.

Unfortunately, in recent years we have discovered that a sizeable fraction, some 8-20 million metric tonnes per year, of plastics are reaching our oceans, leading to the ‘garbage patches’ in the major ocean central gyres as well as visible impacts on nearly all the world’s coasts and beaches. UN Environment estimates that plastics in the ocean already causes damage to ecosystems valued at $13 billion per year, and this is likely an underestimate as we learn more about different impacts.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2017/3/7/The-way-forward-for-reducing-marine-pollution.html

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Ocean Action Hub: Ocean Acidification Forum
u're concerned about the Ocean's future, join the discussion

The Ocean Action Hub is hosting the Ocean Forum discussions, which aim to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on SDG14 implementation in the run-up to The Ocean Conference. If you're concerned about the Ocean's future – as a local or global activist, a scientist or a government representative – please join the discussions!

Each discussion focuses on one of the agreed Partnership Dialogue themes and implementation of relevant SDG targets. The results will be shared with the conference co-facilitators, Member States and others as inputs into the Partnership Dialogues, Call for Action and Voluntary Commitments processes.

Facilitated by expert moderators from the United Nations and civil society, the second discussion focuses on Ocean Acidification. The devastating effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems is expected to be accompanied by significant impacts on communities and sectors dependent on the ocean for their livelihoods. Expert facilitators Kirsten Isensee (UNESCO-IOC), David Osborne (IAEA) and Bronte Tilbrook (CSIRO) will lead a discussion on challenges and strategies to minimise and address ocean acidification and its impacts. Please register to participate here and share your initiatives to implement SDG14.3 in your region. Contact: info@oceanactionhub.org.

To participate, post your comments in the forum online here >

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Marine Pollution Forum - now closed

The Ocean Action Hub is hosting the Ocean Forum discussions, which started with Marine Pollution.

The discussions aim to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on SDG14 implementation in the run-up to The Ocean Conference. If you're concerned about the Ocean's future – as a local or global activist, a scientist or a government representative – please join the discussions!

Each discussion focuses on one of the agreed Partnership Dialogue themes and implementation of relevant SDG targets. The results will be shared with the conference co-facilitators, Member States and others as inputs into the Partnership Dialogues, Call for Action and Voluntary Commitments processes.

Facilitated by expert moderators from the United Nations and civil society, the first discussion focused on Marine Pollution. Facilitated by Fredrik Haag (IMO) and Christopher Cox (UN Environment), the discussion considered priority issues to address Marine Pollution, including challenges faced by communities around the world, such as improving waste management in coastal urban areas and reducing freshwater pollution. Participants were invited to share innovative partnerships focused on SDG14.1. The discussion is now closed. Contact: info@oceanactionhub.org

Join the other discussions online here >

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