OceanCare to participate in critical UN conference to determine the future of our oceans

Wädenswil/Switzerland, 1stJune 2017. All next week, coinciding with World Oceans Day on the 8th June, OceanCare will be joining governments, United Nation’s agencies, the scientific community, financial institutions, civil society and other non-governmental organisations at the UN headquarters in New York. The high-level, potentially game-changing conference focusses on the urgent need to reverse the decline in the health of our oceans in the context of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 Central to the UN’s 2030 Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are designed to shape national development plans over the next 13 years. The Ocean Conference: Our Oceans, Our Future will focus on the implementation of SDG 14 entitled “Life Below Water” with the goal to Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

With a highly anticipated focus on generating solutions and partnerships to make the ambitious targets reality, high-level participation is expected. OceanCare aims to actively take part in the discussions and will be drawing attention to specific recommendations for action on issues such as ocean noise pollution, marine plastic debris, whaling and aquatic wild meat.

Sigrid Lüber, President of OceanCare, says “OceanCare sees this conference as a critical opportunity for world leaders to recognise that the future of humanity depends upon the future of our oceans. We hope they will embrace this opportunity and be ambitious and bold in their commitments to address the many threats the oceans face today”.

Ms. Lüber continues, “Oceans are essential for life and are known as the ‘lungs of our planet’. They regulate its vital life support systems, are a major source of food and livelihood and represent habitat for an enormous diversity of life, from plankton to whales. OceanCare welcomes the integrated nature of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which make it clear that conservation and sustainable development are intrinsically linked”.

In the months leading up to the Ocean Conference stakeholders have committed concrete actions they will take to conserve the oceans and use them in a more sustainable way. Over 400 commitments have already been made. OceanCare has participated in this process and committed to a number of actions to be focussed on by the organisation over the coming years.

A Call for Action has also been negotiated in the run-up to the conference. It is a consensus declaration by UN Member States committing to support the implementation of SDG14. OceanCare has been pro-actively engaging with government representatives during the drafting negations of this declaration. Although many important issues are highlighted within the final version, OceanCare is concerned that ocean noise has not been formally recognised as a form of pollution.

Ms. Lüber explains, “Ocean noise poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems, marine animals and the future sustainability of our oceans. It is critical that the SDG process recognises the relevance of ocean noise and addresses it with the same urgency as other forms of marine pollution.”

Many governments, including the EU, share OceanCare’s view and have fought hard in the negotiations for this recognition. The detrimental effects of ocean noise on marine mammals are well documented but there is also growing evidence of the negative impacts that ocean noise has on fish, and therefore also on fisheries, making it an essential issue to address in terms of ocean sustainability. OceanCare hopes to generate further discussion on this issue at The Ocean Conference and urges governments to voice their support.

OceanCare has produced issue specific briefings highlighting the relevance of different ocean threats across the full spectrum of SDGs, not just SDG14, and with recommendations for commitments that governments and other stakeholders must make if the UN’s 2030 Agenda is to be fully realised.

OceanCare will be represented by President, Sigrid Lüber, Deputy Director International Relations, Fabienne McLellan and Ocean Policy Consultant, Joanna Toole. They will report in a daily blog about their experience and – hopefully! – success stories from the five days in New York: oceancare.org/blog

Background information on SDG 14
Included within SDG 14 are specific targets relating to:

  • significant reductions in all forms of marine pollution
  • ending over-fishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU)
  • restoring fish stocks
  • conserving at least ten per cent of marine and coastal areas
  • addressing ocean acidification
  • increasing economic benefits to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
  • assisting artisanal fishers, and;
  • improving scientific knowledge and technology that will assist oceans being used in a more sustainable way