Tag Archives: SDGs

Making the Ocean a Partner in Our Quest for a Sustainable Future

By José Graziano Da Silva

Humanity owes much to the oceans in many aspects of life. In fact, oceans are essential in providing invaluable ecosystems and climate regulation, as well as important cultural support to the millions of people who live near the sea.

It is time for us to reciprocate and stop treating our oceans as waste pools. Today, our oceans are threatened by a range of factors, from many forms of pollution to climate change and unsustainable fishing practices, all of which are results of human activity. This is why the international community, in approving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically established SDG 14, charging us to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. This is essential for sustainability, and there is a lot to be done. Delivering on SDG 14 requires teamwork and a spirit of partnership among diverse stakeholders from many nations and sectors.

PROSPECTS FOR BLUE GROWTH

The same components and objectives set out under SDG 14 are embodied in the Blue Growth Initiative promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to reconcile ocean-related economic growth with improved livelihoods and social equity.

As 3 billion people ultimately depend on marine and coastal biodiversity, all nations agree on the need to step up efforts to protect oceans and seas, especially in the era of climate change, when transformational interventions are becoming even more urgent and encompassing. The oceans cover almost three quarters of the Earth’s surface, storing one third of all the carbon emissions stemming from human activity. They are part of the solution, and we must make them a key focus of our efforts to cope with and mitigate climate change.

Researchers have discovered that plankton, fish and marine mammals can mistake plastic material for food, and have found that banned pollutants abound in organisms more than 10 kilometres below the ocean surface. Acidified waters, which have increased by 25 per cent since the Industrial Revolution and are the tell-tale symptom of excessive greenhouse gas emissions, can impact the growth and reproductive patterns of fish and invertebrates.

The protection and responsible use of our oceans is a joint task. We are all in the same boat. This means tapping potential partnerships extending well beyond industrial production, and engaging communities and consumers in particular. Let us not forget that SDG 14 and the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are a response to the demands of people. The public’s call for action and accountability is strong. Indeed, since 2003, there has been a 40-fold increase in the amount of seafood production certified under global sustainability initiatives. This accounts for more than one seventh of all seafood output and is, in fact, rapidly catching up—and I hope and trust will soon surpass—the one sixth of all seafood that is caught in illegal, unreported or unregulated ways.

BUILDING MOMENTUM WITH THE PORT STATE MEASURES AGREEMENT

FAO is leading campaigns to enforce fair rules in an international sector where worldwide net export revenues for developing countries are worth more than those for trade in any agricultural commodity. Both human livelihoods and the sustainability of fish stocks are harder to support when laws are defied.

A very important step in this endeavour is the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. FAO drafted and brokered agreements to this treaty, which is designed to crack down on all rogue fishing vessels and prevent their catch—estimated to be up to 26 million tons each year and worth $23 billion—from entering markets. PSMA, which entered into force in 2016, marks a new dawn, going well beyond previous flag and port State rules and requiring all ships to submit to inspections wherever they dock, even for refuelling.

The Agreement is especially important, as one of the specific targets included in SDG 14 is to effectively end IUU fishing by 2020—just three years from now—in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yields. Achieving the target date for ending IUU will require an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach. Robust implementation of PSMA and compliance with fishery management protocols are obviously essential. So, too, are initiatives aimed at reducing and recovering fishing gear lost at sea, which is estimated to account for as much as 640,000 tons of rubbish put into the oceans each year, around one tenth of the total. FAO is actively promoting stronger rules for marking fishing gear, which industry participants recognize would strike a blow to IUU fishing activities as well as facilitate recovery of nets and other equipment which, when lost or dumped overboard, continue to entangle fish.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

FAO participates in the implementation of many programmes aimed at promoting sustainable fisheries and preserving marine resources. One of them, the Nansen Programme, is carried out in partnership with the Government of Norway. Over the last 40 years, vessels funded by Norway and operating under the United Nations flag have conducted research activities that have vastly deepened our understanding of underwater ecosystems and the life­sustaining fisheries that so many people around the globe depend on, especially those living in developing countries in Africa and Asia. The Programme has allowed us to improve research and activities where marine observations are extremely limited, and better understand the impacts of climate change and other external drivers, such as pollution, on aquatic ecosystems. This is crucial to enabling developing countries to increase the resilience of ecosystems and coastal communities, especially with regard to small-scale fisheries.

INCLUDE THE PEOPLE OF THE SEA

The way forward must ensure that the shift to sustainability produces benefits for the people who rely on the sea the most: the residents of small island developing States and small-scale artisanal fishers, especially in developing countries. These States and communities lack the scale and capacity to carry out all the needed transformations on their own. While FAO offers help and advice, it is crucial that everyone, especially those better able to shoulder the task, recognize the responsibility to increase efforts by making even more ambitious commitments of their own. Responsible fishing in national as well as international waters, adequate knowledge and technology transfers, and collaborations enabling fish products to enter global trade markets are all essential.

Nowadays, about 120 million people depend on commercial fisheries for their livelihoods, and nearly 90 per cent of them work in small-scale fisheries in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia. They are among the poorest communities in the world, and they risk being further marginalized if we fail to recognize the importance of small-scale fisheries.

Thus, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are crucial in our quest to implement the 2030 Agenda, and not only to achieve SDG 14 but also to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, as stipulated in Goals 1 and 2.

Author bio: José Graziano Da Silva is Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Making the Ocean a Partner in Our Quest for a Sustainable Future

By José Graziano Da Silva

Humanity owes much to the oceans in many aspects of life. In fact, oceans are essential in providing invaluable ecosystems and climate regulation, as well as important cultural support to the millions of people who live near the sea.

It is time for us to reciprocate and stop treating our oceans as waste pools. Today, our oceans are threatened by a range of factors, from many forms of pollution to climate change and unsustainable fishing practices, all of which are results of human activity. This is why the international community, in approving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically established SDG 14, charging us to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. This is essential for sustainability, and there is a lot to be done. Delivering on SDG 14 requires teamwork and a spirit of partnership among diverse stakeholders from many nations and sectors.

PROSPECTS FOR BLUE GROWTH

The same components and objectives set out under SDG 14 are embodied in the Blue Growth Initiative promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to reconcile ocean-related economic growth with improved livelihoods and social equity.

As 3 billion people ultimately depend on marine and coastal biodiversity, all nations agree on the need to step up efforts to protect oceans and seas, especially in the era of climate change, when transformational interventions are becoming even more urgent and encompassing. The oceans cover almost three quarters of the Earth’s surface, storing one third of all the carbon emissions stemming from human activity. They are part of the solution, and we must make them a key focus of our efforts to cope with and mitigate climate change.

Researchers have discovered that plankton, fish and marine mammals can mistake plastic material for food, and have found that banned pollutants abound in organisms more than 10 kilometres below the ocean surface. Acidified waters, which have increased by 25 per cent since the Industrial Revolution and are the tell-tale symptom of excessive greenhouse gas emissions, can impact the growth and reproductive patterns of fish and invertebrates.

The protection and responsible use of our oceans is a joint task. We are all in the same boat. This means tapping potential partnerships extending well beyond industrial production, and engaging communities and consumers in particular. Let us not forget that SDG 14 and the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are a response to the demands of people. The public’s call for action and accountability is strong. Indeed, since 2003, there has been a 40-fold increase in the amount of seafood production certified under global sustainability initiatives. This accounts for more than one seventh of all seafood output and is, in fact, rapidly catching up—and I hope and trust will soon surpass—the one sixth of all seafood that is caught in illegal, unreported or unregulated ways.

BUILDING MOMENTUM WITH THE PORT STATE MEASURES AGREEMENT

FAO is leading campaigns to enforce fair rules in an international sector where worldwide net export revenues for developing countries are worth more than those for trade in any agricultural commodity. Both human livelihoods and the sustainability of fish stocks are harder to support when laws are defied.

A very important step in this endeavour is the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. FAO drafted and brokered agreements to this treaty, which is designed to crack down on all rogue fishing vessels and prevent their catch—estimated to be up to 26 million tons each year and worth $23 billion—from entering markets. PSMA, which entered into force in 2016, marks a new dawn, going well beyond previous flag and port State rules and requiring all ships to submit to inspections wherever they dock, even for refuelling.

The Agreement is especially important, as one of the specific targets included in SDG 14 is to effectively end IUU fishing by 2020—just three years from now—in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yields. Achieving the target date for ending IUU will require an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach. Robust implementation of PSMA and compliance with fishery management protocols are obviously essential. So, too, are initiatives aimed at reducing and recovering fishing gear lost at sea, which is estimated to account for as much as 640,000 tons of rubbish put into the oceans each year, around one tenth of the total. FAO is actively promoting stronger rules for marking fishing gear, which industry participants recognize would strike a blow to IUU fishing activities as well as facilitate recovery of nets and other equipment which, when lost or dumped overboard, continue to entangle fish.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

FAO participates in the implementation of many programmes aimed at promoting sustainable fisheries and preserving marine resources. One of them, the Nansen Programme, is carried out in partnership with the Government of Norway. Over the last 40 years, vessels funded by Norway and operating under the United Nations flag have conducted research activities that have vastly deepened our understanding of underwater ecosystems and the life­sustaining fisheries that so many people around the globe depend on, especially those living in developing countries in Africa and Asia. The Programme has allowed us to improve research and activities where marine observations are extremely limited, and better understand the impacts of climate change and other external drivers, such as pollution, on aquatic ecosystems. This is crucial to enabling developing countries to increase the resilience of ecosystems and coastal communities, especially with regard to small-scale fisheries.

INCLUDE THE PEOPLE OF THE SEA

The way forward must ensure that the shift to sustainability produces benefits for the people who rely on the sea the most: the residents of small island developing States and small-scale artisanal fishers, especially in developing countries. These States and communities lack the scale and capacity to carry out all the needed transformations on their own. While FAO offers help and advice, it is crucial that everyone, especially those better able to shoulder the task, recognize the responsibility to increase efforts by making even more ambitious commitments of their own. Responsible fishing in national as well as international waters, adequate knowledge and technology transfers, and collaborations enabling fish products to enter global trade markets are all essential.

Nowadays, about 120 million people depend on commercial fisheries for their livelihoods, and nearly 90 per cent of them work in small-scale fisheries in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia. They are among the poorest communities in the world, and they risk being further marginalized if we fail to recognize the importance of small-scale fisheries.

Thus, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are crucial in our quest to implement the 2030 Agenda, and not only to achieve SDG 14 but also to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, as stipulated in Goals 1 and 2.

Author bio: José Graziano Da Silva is Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Climate Change Poses a Threat to Our Oceans

By Isabella Lövin

In 2016, the First Global Integrated Marine Assessment, also known as the World Ocean Assessment I, was published. The introduction of the report is fascinating. It states that 70 per cent of the planet’s surface is covered by water and that the average depth is 4,000 metres. These oceans contain 97 per cent of all water on Earth, which is the equivalent of approximately 1.3 billion cubic kilometres. This can seem like an infinite amount.

But the report also states that there are now more than 7 billion people on Earth. If we divided all of this water equally between us, we would only have one fifth of a cubic kilometre each. And in 2050, when there will be some 10 billion people on Earth, we will only have one eighth of a cubic kilometre per person. This relatively small amount of water is what will provide each person with all ecosystem services, including food and oxygen. But this is also where some of our emissions, our waste and our rubbish will end up.

Oceans, however, happen to be borderless and are also unevenly distributed across the planet. We cannot protect our share of the ocean with walls; instead, we must cooperate in a spirit of solidarity if we are to succeed in preserving and protecting the water that we have at our joint disposal. We must work together with our closest neighbours and cooperate at a global level, between countries.

The importance of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be stressed enough. They light our way through the darkness that is currently shrouding the world. Progress is being made on many of the SDGs, but one of the goals for which developments are unfortunately moving in the wrong direction is SDG 14, which calls on the international community to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

This is why the Government of Sweden, together with the Government of Fiji, took the initiative to host the Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017. The Conference will be the first high-level forum to focus on one single goal in the 2030 Agenda, and we are enthusiastic to see growing engagement among the countries of the world.

One of the many issues demanding immediate attention at the Conference is the impact of climate change on the global marine environment. Although the ocean is the single largest habitat on our planet and is a system that is inextricably linked to human survival, climate change and the impact of increasing carbon dioxide emissions on the oceans have been largely overshadowed in the climate change debate. The oceans—which produce half of all our oxygen, regulate the Earth’s climate and temperature, give us food and water, and are home to hundreds of thousands of species-have for a long time been our best ally in efforts to curb climate change. More than 93 per cent1 of all the heat people have added to the planet since the 1950s has been absorbed by the oceans—but at a price we are just beginning to understand. Rising ocean temperatures and increased acidification are now becoming apparent in melting Arctic sea ice and coral bleaching. Immediate action is needed here and we must use our entire toolbox at once: mitigation, protection, restoration and adaptation.

The warming of the oceans over the past 60 years has taken place on such a scale that it is difficult to take in. A 2015 analysis produced by the Grantham Institute shows that if the same amount of heat that was added to the top two kilometres of the oceans between 1995 and 2010 had instead been added to the bottom ten kilometres of the atmosphere, we would have seen the temperature on Earth rise by 36 degrees Celsius. So the oceans have protected us from the worst effects of climate change. But there is great uncertainty regarding the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide in future. If the oceans have so far been our best friend, there is now the risk in the foreseeable future that they will begin to send us the bill: a large proportion of the emissions we have caused since the 1900s, now stored in the oceans, may return to the atmosphere.

Ocean acidification can be called the chemical crisis of the global climate. Alongside global warming, ocean acidification risks pushing marine life beyond catastrophic limits. Since industrialization, acidification of ocean surface water has increased by almost 30 per cent.2 Coral reefs will be one of the most immediate victims of climate change if we do not take action very quickly. Although coral reefs make up just 1 per cent of the surface of the oceans, as much as 25 per cent of marine species are dependent on them. The breakdown of coral reef ecosystems also affects the protection of coastal zones, fisheries and tourism. Without a drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, by 2050 almost all of the world’s coral reefs may have been subjected to such acidic conditions that they will be only marginally able to form calcium and continue growing.

Researchers have estimated that the oceans are home to up to 1 million different species.3 Increased ocean temperatures risk causing the mass migration of species, resulting in the global homogenization of biodiversity. This would mean a decline in the numbers of species in the warmer water regions and a drastic increase in the colder regions around the poles. This kind of change could have a very serious impact on global fisheries and aquaculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that fish now account for 20 per cent of the animal protein source for around 3 billion people. Along with population growth, poor fisheries management and increased fish exports, changes in the local fish fauna can have enormous consequences for food security, especially in poor coastal countries where many people depend on fishing for their daily living.

Climate change also threatens the supply of oxygen in the oceans in two different ways. Firstly, warm water cannot hold as much oxygen as cold water, so as the oceans warm up, oxygen levels drop. Secondly, warmer water has lower density, making it more difficult for the oxygen-rich water near the surface to sink and circulate. Consequently, deep oceans face a particularly great risk of oxygen depletion. Fish that are dependent on oxygen will grow more slowly, decrease in size and reproduce less. Larger fish such as tuna, swordfish and shark, which are dependent on a large amount of oxygen, will be driven to more oxygen-rich surface waters, as will a large proportion of their prey. This will lead to increased food competition. Creatures living in or on the seabed will also need to seek out shallower waters. The knock-on effect of this will be a clear risk of even more overfishing, as more sea creatures will inhabit smaller and more easily accessible areas, becoming more readily fished.

One example of a ‘hot spot’ for the effects of climate change on oceans is the Arctic. Here, both warming and acidification are occurring particularly rapidly and to a greater extent than in many other places in the world. Scientific findings show an increased risk of crossing large-scale tipping points in the Arctic, such as the collapse of summer sea ice, melting ice sheets and methane emissions from melting permafrost, which may all have very significant global consequences-not least with regard to rising sea levels. The biodiversity and ecosystems in the Arctic are irreplaceable assets of global importance. Many Arctic species, ecosystems and habitats are at risk of disappearing completely, or remaining only as isolated fragments. As the ice sheet melts, increasingly large areas in the Arctic are now opening up for shipping and extracting natural resources such as oil, gas and fish. In November 2016, the planet sent perhaps its clearest warning yet, when the temperature in the Arctic was measured at a shocking 20 degrees Celsius warmer than what is normal for that time of year. The abrupt warming of the Arctic entails a dramatic change in life conditions not only around the North Pole, but also for the rest of the planet. Permanent ice at the North and the South Poles is a prerequisite for a stable planet. A self-heating Arctic will have major effects on global climate. Let us therefore hope that this was the last alarm bell from the planet before we humans came together and succeeded in reversing the trend.

It is impossible to estimate the economic value of living oceans for us humans; they are in essence the actual prerequisite for human existence. It is beyond doubt, however, that the effects of climate change on the oceans will entail major economic costs. For example, the cost of reduced tourism due to coral bleaching has been estimated to be as much as $12 billion annually. If lost ecosystem services from reefs are included, the annual cost is estimated to reach $1 trillion by the year 2100.4 But the truly great costs will be measured in the form of reduced human health and security.

Keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and aspiring to 1.5 degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement, is fundamental to mitigating the impact of climate change on our oceans. Sweden is prepared to take a leading role in international climate efforts and has the goal of being one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare nations. Sweden has also doubled its contributions to multilateral climate financing in recent years and is now the largest per capita donor to many of the multilateral climate funds, including the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility and the Adaptation Fund. Climate change is also central to much of Sweden’s bilateral cooperation and we want to work proactively to strengthen initiatives that are linked to the impact on oceans. Immediate and dramatic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions will buy us time to strengthen the resilience of oceans, ecosystems and species, that is, their ability to adapt to the negative impact of climate change and the inevitable stressors already in operation in our oceans. Fish that can easily migrate will be able to find new habitats, and organisms with short reproductive cycles such as plankton can evolve to adapt to the new conditions.

Drastic measures must be employed to strengthen the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems. It is still possible to preserve large, relatively unaffected marine ecosystems if measures are taken now. Sweden has allocated substantial funds to protect valuable marine environments in national waters and meet the commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity, but protection of marine environments is also an important issue in regional and international cooperation. Moreover, the impacts of climate change must be considered in assessments of threatened species and in formulating advice on which measures need to be taken.

In the light of the various stress factors acting on our oceans, the sustainable management of marine resources-not least measures to ensure improved food security—is more important than ever. Forceful measures are essential to stop overfishing and illegal fishing, and ensure a move from industrial fishing to small-scale fishing in coastal nations where many people are dependent on fish for their daily living. Further forceful measures are necessary to prevent and reduce marine pollution, including marine debris and the inflow of nutrients. Finally, we must also invest more in research to increase our scientific knowledge in all these areas.

The impact of climate change on our oceans can no longer be described in isolated, individual stories about bleached coral reefs; it involves fundamental changes to ecosystems and marine life on a scale we are only just beginning to imagine. We must act now and put oceans at the centre of our climate efforts. The great interest in the Ocean Conference from all parts of the United Nations system, the science and business sectors, and civil society demonstrates that the international community is ready to take forceful action.

 

Notes

1       Sydney Levitus and others, “World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0-2000m), 1955-2010”, Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 39, No. 10 (17 May 2012).

2       Richard A. Feely, Scott C. Doney and Sarah R. Cooley, “Ocean acidification: present conditions and future changes in a high-CO2 world”, Oceanography, vol. 22, No. 4 (December 2009), pp.36-47.

3       Ward Appeltans and others, “The magnitude of global marine species diversity”, Current Biology, vol. 22, No. 23 (4 December 2012), pp. 2189-2202.

4       Jean-Pierre Gattuso and others, “Contrasting futures for ocean and society from different anthropogenic CO2 emissions scenarios”, Science, vol. 349, No. 6243, (3 July 2015), pp. aac.4722-1-4722-10.

 

Author bio: Isabella Lövin is Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden.

Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystems Underpin a Healthy Planet and Social Well-Being

By Cristiana Paşca Palmer

In no other realm is the importance of biodiversity for sustainable development more essential than in the ocean. Marine biodiversity, the variety of life in the ocean and seas, is a critical aspect of all three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental—supporting the healthy functioning of the planet and providing services that underpin the health, well­being and prosperity of humanity.

The ocean is one of the main repositories of the world’s biodiversity. It constitutes over 90 per cent of the habitable space on the planet and contains some 250,000 known species, with many more remaining to be discovered—at least two thirds of the world’s marine species are still unidentified.1

The ocean, and the life therein, are critical to the healthy functioning of the planet, supplying half of the oxygen we breathe2 and absorbing annually about 26 per cent of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.3

Evidence continues to emerge demonstrating the essential role of marine biodiversity in underpinning a healthy planet and social well-being. The fishery and aquaculture sectors are a source of income for hundreds of millions of people, especially in low-income families, and contribute directly and indirectly to their food security. Marine ecosystems provide innumerable services for coastal communities around the world. For example, mangrove ecosystems are an important source of food for more than 210 million people4 but they also deliver a range of other services, such as livelihoods, clean water, forest products, and protection against erosion and extreme weather events.

Not surprisingly, given the resources that the ocean provides, human settlements have developed near the coast: 38 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100 km of the coast, 44 per cent within 150 km, 50 per cent within 200 km, and 67 per cent within 400 km.5 Roughly 61 per cent of the world’s total gross domestic product comes from the ocean and the coastal areas within 100 km of the coastline.6 Coastal population densities are 2.6 times larger than in inland areas and benefit directly and indirectly from the goods and services of coastal and marine ecosystems, which contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and sustainable livelihoods and inclusive work, while hosting large biodiversity richness and mitigating the impacts of climate change.7

Thus, pressures that adversely impact marine biodiversity also undermine and compromise the healthy functioning of the planet and its ability to provide the services that we need to survive and thrive. Moreover, as demands on the ocean continue to rise, the continued provisioning of these services will be critical. The consequences of biodiversity loss are often most severe for the poor, who are extremely dependent on local ecosystem services for their livelihoods and are highly vulnerable to impacts on such services.

Concerns over the drastic declines in biodiversity are what initially motivated the development of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention encompasses three complementary objectives: the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. With 196 Parties, participation in the Convention is nearly universal, a sign that our global society is well aware of the need to work together to ensure the survival of life on Earth.

The Convention also serves as a new biodiversity focal point for the entire United Nations system and a basis for other international instruments and processes to integrate biodiversity considerations into their work; as such, it is a central element of the global framework for sustainable development. The Convention’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and its 20 Biodiversity Targets, adopted by the Parties to the Convention in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, in 2010, provide an effective framework for cooperation to achieve a future in which the global community can sustainably and equitably benefit from biodiversity without affecting the ability of future generations to do so.

The centrality of marine biodiversity to sustainable development was recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in which global leaders highlighted the urgency of taking action to improve the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. In particular, SDG 14 is aimed at conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and emphasizes the strong linkages between marine biodiversity and broader sustainable development objectives. In fact, many elements of Goal 14 and a number of other SDGs reflect the same objectives and principles agreed upon under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Thus, efforts at different scales to achieve the Aichi Targets will directly contribute to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the SDGs.

Marine biodiversity and ecosystems are intrinsically connected to a wide range of services that are essential to sustainable development. These relationships are often complex and dynamic, and are influenced by feedback loops and synergistic effects. These outline the need to take an integrated and holistic approach to conservation and the sustainable use of marine biodiversity, based on the ecosystem and precautionary approaches, principles of inclusiveness and equity, and the need to deliver multiple benefits for ecosystems and communities.

Work under the Convention has evolved to reflect such an approach and to support Parties and relevant organizations in implementing the Convention, notably through national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and through policies, programmes and measures across different sectors that both affect and rely on biodiversity.

This work takes a thematic approach focused on (a) understanding the ecological and biological value of the ocean; (b) addressing the impacts of pressures and threats on marine and coastal biodiversity; (c) facilitating the application of tools for applying the ecosystem approach for conservation and sustainable use; (d) building capacity to put in place the enabling conditions for implementation; and (e) mainstreaming biodiversity into sectors.

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global process for the description of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) has served to enhance understanding of the ecological and biological value of marine areas in nearly all of the world’s ocean regions. This work serves as an important foundation for conservation and management, and creates the enabling conditions to further enhance and utilize this knowledge by catalysing scientific networking and partnerships at the regional level. It also helps to identify gaps in knowledge and to prioritize monitoring and research activities in support of the application of the ecosystem approach.8

Parties have also prioritized the need to address key pressures on marine biodiversity, including unsustainable fishing practices, marine debris and anthropogenic underwater noise, as well as climate change and ocean acidification. The secretariat, Parties to the Convention, other Governments and relevant organizations work with scientists and experts to synthesize best available knowledge on the effects of major pressures/stressors, and produce consolidated guidance on means to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts of these pressures.

Through expert workshops, publications and engagement with other relevant processes, the Convention on Biological Diversity has generated guidelines for the development and application of the ecosystem approach, including through area­based measures, such as marine spatial planning and marine and coastal protected areas, as well as biodiversity-inclusive environmental impact and strategic environmental assessments, integrating different sectoral policy measures to address various pressures on the biological and ecological values of the ocean.

Capacity-building to support implementation is also a central focus of the Convention on Biological Diversity. One of the tools for this is the Sustainable Ocean Initiative, a global partnership framework coordinated by the Convention secretariat, together with various United Nations entities and international partner organizations. The Initiative builds on existing efforts, resources and experiences by enhancing partnerships, disseminating lessons learned and knowledge gained, and facilitating improved coordination among sectors and stakeholder groups. It does this across multiple scales in order to create the enabling conditions needed for improved on-the-ground implementation. The Sustainable Ocean Initiative Global Dialogue with Regional Seas Organizations and Regional Fisheries Bodies on Accelerating Progress Towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets works to facilitate cross-sectoral regional-scale dialogue and coordination.9

Parties have also prioritized the mainstreaming of biodiversity considerations into economic sectors that both affect and rely on healthy marine ecosystems for sustainable economic growth. Mainstreaming was at the forefront of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the recent United Nations Biodiversity Conference, held in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2016. Ministers of environment, fisheries and tourism, among others, at the high-level segment of the Conference expressed their commitment, through the adoption of the Cancun Declaration, to work at all levels within Governments and across sectors to mainstream biodiversity in sectoral development. In this vein, the Convention secretariat has worked closely over the years with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, regional fishery bodies and other stakeholders to support enhanced implementation by the Parties to the Convention to better mainstream biodiversity into the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

If we are to achieve the SDGs and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, we will have to abandon business-as-usual approaches and mainstream biodiversity into our development planning, governance and decision-making. We will have to mobilize resources to make the on-the-ground changes that are so desperately needed. Furthermore, stakeholders at all levels will need to be conscious of how their actions and behaviours affect the marine ecosystems on which we all depend, and make conscious decisions to improve our relationships with the ocean, which has given us so much throughout human history.

The forthcoming Ocean Conference, to be held at the United Nations in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017, represents a momentous opportunity to build the necessary political will and put in place the enabling conditions to foment enhanced implementation at all levels with the inclusion of all stakeholders in order to realize a future of healthy and productive marine biodiversity that supports societal well-being. In line with the principles of intergenerational equity, we must also recognize the right of future generations to inherit a planet thriving with life, and to reap the economic, cultural and spiritual benefits of a healthy ocean.

Notes

1       For further information, see the Census of Marine life website:

http://coml.org.

2       The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment (World Ocean Assessment I) (United Nations, 2016). Available from http://www.un.org/depts/los/global_reporting/WOA_RegProcess.htm.

3       Corinne Le Quere and others, “Global carbon budget 2015”, Earth System Science Data, Vol. 7, No. 2 (December 2015), 349-396 (371).

4       Mark Spalding, Robert D. Brumbaugh and Emily Landis, Atlas of Ocean Wealth (Arlington, VA, The Nature Conservancy, 2016), p. 14.

5       Christopher Small and Joel E. Cohen, “Continental physiography, climate, and the global distribution of Human Population”, Current Anthropology Vol. 45, No. 2 (April 2004), 269-277 (272).

6       Paulo A.L.D. Nunes and Andrea Ghermandi, The economics of marine ecosystems: reconciling use and conservation of coastal and marine systems and the underlying natural capital, Environmental and Resource Economics, Vol. 56, No.4 (October 2013), 459-465 (460).

7       Ibid.

8       For further information on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, see https://www.cbd.int/ebsa/.

9       For further information on the Sustainable Ocean Initiative, see https://www.cbd.int/soi/.

Author bio:

Cristiana Paşca Palmer is Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Can We Save Coral Reefs?

By Carrie Manfrino

The United Nations has reported that 70 per cent of the Earth’s coral reefs are threatened: 20 per cent have already been destroyed with no hope for recovery, 24 per cent are under imminent risk of collapse, and an additional 26 per cent are at risk due to longer-term threats.1 Coastal ecosystem degradation is especially problematic, as 40 per cent (3.1 billion) of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometres of the ocean, which means that massive losses to coral reef ecosystems are also an economic and social issue.2 Reef structures protect coastal communities from storm waves, provide sand for beaches and generate enormous recreational revenue for local businesses. Coral reefs also serve as the twenty-first century’s medicine cabinet. Myriad organisms, including sponges, corals and sea hares, contain molecules that express potent anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-tumour and/or anti-bacterial effects. New treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses and inflammation are being developed from these molecules. The collapse of coral reefs has far-reaching implications for the entire ocean, for people and, indeed, for the planet. Going forward, the focus must be on how to conserve what is left, ideally taking bold, decisive steps to reverse the unthinkable trajectory. Such solutions will require innovations and partnerships that can spearhead the societal-level change needed to halt the damage to coral reefs and reverse the downward trend in their health and survival.

Time is not on our side, but the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development outlines a plan for the future protection of the ocean. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bring a sharper focus on the economic, social and cultural ramifications of major declines in fish populations, coral reef ecosystems and coastal erosion due to sea level rise and poor management.3 For instance, SDG 14 describes the need to reduce marine pollution; regulate the harvesting of fish; and end overfishing, unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible. The goal is to sustainably manage and protect at least 10 per cent of marine and coastal ecosystems by 2020, and to strengthen their resilience and take action for their restoration.

With 70 per cent of coral reefs already gone or threatened, however, greater levels of protection will be required to potentially compensate for the increasing stress brought on by climate change. Corals turn white and ‘bleach’ as symbiotic algae are essentially expelled from the animal when stressed. Prolonged periods of higher-than-normal sea surface temperature have led to global coral mortality, events that climate models predict will only become more frequent.4 Some studies show that managed, no-take marine reserves with 50 per cent of the reefs under protection are not immune to warming seas but are capable of recovering.5 Unfortunately, the most current episode of bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef illuminates how climate change, driven fundamentally by anthropogenic carbon emissions, is destroying this critical marine ecosystem despite protection, even in locations far removed from human populations.6 The 2015 Paris Agreement, adopted at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), was heralded as a new dawn that could mitigate the consequences of climate change to humankind but not for coral reefs. For the reefs to survive, however, confronting climate change impacts must be front and centre for any other proffered solutions to make a difference. What other avenues are there to tackle this complex problem? Consider the following extra-governmental paradigm: public-private collaborations.

“RETHINKING THE FUTURE FOR CORAL REEFS” SYMPOSIUM

In June 2016, an influential cross section of coral reef scientists and social scientists, foundation leaders, non­governmental organization directors, policymakers and interested members of the general public gathered in London for the International Symposium on “Rethinking the Future for Coral Reefs”. The Symposium was led by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the founding patron of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI). CCMI is a non-governmental coral reef education and research organization, with a bustling facility on Little Cayman, Cayman Islands. Supported largely by private funds, the organization has navigated partnerships with local schools so that every Caymanian child can be ocean literate by the time they reach 12 years of age.

The goal of the Symposium was to establish a dialogue among experts from the public and private sectors with broad perspectives on what steps could lead to a healthy future for coral reefs. The focus was on the need for a more progressive, ambitious and innovative approach to both provide immediate protection and prevent further losses. The agreement, disagreement, surprises and outcomes from the Symposium can be summarized in the context of COP 21 and SDG 14. The major conclusion was that solutions for protecting the future for coral must rapidly transcend social, economic and cultural boundaries. The emissions goals set in Paris at COP 21 would lead to temperature increases by 2030 that would be devastating for coral reefs.7 Furthermore, the SDG 14 recommendations may need to consider more specifically the level of reef destruction already in progress due to climate change and direct human impacts.

Increasing the size of protected areas and removing detrimental impacts require dealing with human issues that lie beyond the borders of protected areas. Conservation relies on strong governance that is often overshadowed by private interests. Changing human behaviour and the conditions that influence behaviour, including poverty and the effects of globalization, would be a necessary first step in many areas.8 Teaching sustainable fishing, and providing opportunities for renewable energy and ecotourism are strategies that have successfully increased the rates of employment and improved sanitation while decreasing poverty, malnutrition and pollution. Longer-term solutions should enhance the status of women in developing countries who significantly support marine fisheries and aquaculture by providing access to jobs in those countries.

Top-down governance strategies could be more persuasive if attention was given to assuring positive community perception about the effectiveness of protection. Good governance could effectively reduce overfishing, stop anchor damage and remove direct human impacts so long as the human issues and community perception are included as elements of the plan.9

Coral restoration through farming or transplanting has often been mentioned as a possible solution for reefs in crisis, but it is not likely to be a serious remedy until the original stressors that led to the demise of corals is removed. Destructive harvesting and extraction, as seen recently in the South China Sea, must stop. Ending the practice of releasing waste and sewage into coastal waters, which result in algal blooms, would be needed. Halting unplanned coastal development, which reduces the productivity of corals due to increased sedimentation, would play a significant role in reversing the decline of reefs in some locations. The Symposium’s findings and recommendations are offered below, both on their merits and as an example of a productive public-private collaboration.

SUMMARY FROM THE “RETHINKING THE FUTURE FOR CORAL REEFS” SYMPOSIUM

  • The pace of coral reef decline is even faster than current trajectories by at least a decade.
  • Reefs of the future will be remarkably different in structure and composition than reefs today.
  • The 2030 Agenda’s SDG 14 target to conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas should be higher for coral reefs, considering that cumulatively 70 per cent of reefs are threatened.
  • Climate impacts on coral reefs, in particular the rapid increases in sea surface temperatures, would kill large areas of reefs that would not be capable of recovering fast enough before further high-temperature events took place.
  • The Paris Agreement goals adopted at COP 21 to reduce carbon emissions are inadequate. Reefs would disappear before these goals were achieved.
  • The collapse of coral reefs has far-reaching implications for the entire ocean and for people, as reefs are considered sentinel ecosystems that protect coastal communities.
  • Public engagement with coral reefs in crisis is woefully low, especially by comparison with many other environmental crises.
  • Societal-level changes are needed in order for coral reef ecosystems to continue functioning.
  • It was noted that activists and campaigners often targeted ministries of environment when proposing action aimed at protection, when it was often more effective to engage ministries of finance or of development, which have greater power and access to resources.

NEXT STEPS FROM THE SYMPOSIUM

  • Immediate global action to reduce future warming above COP 21 goals is fundamental to coral reef survival.
  • Establish a high-profile movement that makes way for a shift in societal behaviour to reduce adverse impacts on coral reefs and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
  • Establish an advocacy group and coalition with select entities to advocate and increase awareness, and undertake actions that will produce relevant solutions for a particular region. Focus on the diverse issues of particular regions.
  • Engage leaders of industry, Heads of State, and ministries of finance in the discussion so as to educate, inform and expand the dialogue.
  • Be proactive when relevant issues impacting coral reef health attract media or governmental attention.
  • Become engaged as scientists in the climate discussion and push for faster reductions in emissions.
  • Explore new, innovative, scalable solutions that traverse the scientific disciplines, including management and policy solutions, and expand the dialogue and awareness of the issues and solutions.

CONCLUSION

With estimates that coral reefs are among the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, the dire need for societal-level changes to reduce human impacts on coral reef ecosystems is no longer a debate. The achievement of SDG 14 by 2030 could help improve ocean resources, to be sure. Actions that protect top predators, identify key herbivorous fish species for protection, halt destructive fishing, boating and diving, and manage exploitation of reef fish cannot hurt. Nevertheless, much more aggressive action and education from the top down to grassroots efforts to achieve a carbon-neutral planet are required to protect coral reefs; otherwise, we’re just whistling past Davy Jones’ locker.

Notes

1       United Nations Department of Public Information, “Life below water: why it matters”, 2016. Available from http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/14_Why-it-Matters_Goal-14_Life-Below-Water_3p.pdf.

2       Biliana Cicin-Sain, “Goal 14-Conserve and Sustainably Use Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development”, UN Chronicle, vol. Ll No.4 (2014). Available from https://unchronicle.un.org/article/goal-14-conserve-and-sustainably-use-oceans-seas-and-marine­resources-sustainable.

3       United Nations Department of Public Information, “Life below water:

why it matters”.

4       Reuben Van Hooidonk and others “Local-scale projections of coral reef futures and implications of the Paris agreement”, Scientific Reports, vol. 6 (2016).

5       Carrie Manfrino and others, “A positive trajectory for corals at Little Cayman Island”, PLOS One, vol. 8, No.10:e75432 (2013).

6       Terry P. Hughes and others “Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals”, Nature, vol.543, No. 7645 (2017), pp. 373-377.

7       ISRS Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Bleaching, October 2015, prepared for the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Paris, December 2015. Available from http://coralreefs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ISRS-Consensus-Statement-on-Coral Bleaching-Ciimate-Change-FINAL-140ct2015-HR.pdf; Van Hooidonk and others “Local-scale projections of coral reef futures and implications of the Paris agreement”. Hughes and others “Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals”.

8       Joshua E. Cinner and others, “Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs”, Nature, vol. 535, No. 7612 (2016), pp. 416-419.

9       Rachel A. Turner and others, “Trust, confidence, and equity affect the legitimacy of natural resource governance”, Ecology and Society, vol. 21, No.3 (2016).

Author bio: Carrie Manfrino is President and Director of Research and Conservation at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Little Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Portugal and the Ocean Economy

By Ana Paula Vitorino

Today, our world is facing the challenge of understanding and living through the Anthropocene. Although this epoch is not yet officially recognized, it is increasingly accepted that we are in a special subdivision of the geological timescale, one in which human activity has a direct impact on our planet in terms of climate and the availability of natural resources.

The global competition for the exploitation of natural resources to sustain current models of development originated in the recognition of the ocean as an extension of mainland territories. If for centuries the maritime space was regarded as one of mobility—a highway to other spaces—today ‘terrestrial’ concepts are being applied to the ocean.

This change is connected to an increase in knowledge about the sea and its resources, as well as the technological advances that have facilitated the exploration of the ocean. The public order of the oceans, which incorporates a substantial territorial component based on a clear division between national sovereignty and jurisdiction and the freedoms of the high seas beyond current maritime borders, served the circumstances of its time well, providing the stability and legal certainty necessary for the economy of the sea to develop and prosper.

As we now know, however, by the time that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) entered into force in 1994, a number of challenges that threaten the oceans and marine resources were becoming more visible and better understood, and were in part detached from the idea of territory and sovereignty. UNCLOS provides ways to respond to environmental problems with respect to the world’s oceans and allows us to incorporate those approaches into decision­making processes. It also gives us tools to manage such issues so that solutions beyond the national borders of each coastal State can be reached. The foundations laid down by the Convention, however, are not sufficient to respond to emerging global threats. Examples such as ocean acidification, marine pollution, the depletion of fish stocks and degradation of marine ecosystems are impossible to address and resolve solely from the viewpoint of national sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction. We need a holistic, shared approach to sustainably manage our oceans.

This is why Portugal is fully committed to working towards a new UNCLOS implementation agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The new agreement should reflect the best science available, and the decision-making processes set out in the agreement should incorporate this concern. We should recognize the contribution that such an agreement can and should make to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda, which deals with oceans, and to halting and reversing the decline in ocean health.

For historical, cultural and economic reasons, the ocean has shaped the lives of the Portuguese people and the ways in which we relate to others and belong to the international community. As a maritime country, the ocean is a fundamental and formative element of our identity. In support of the objective to promote and strengthen the global governance of the oceans based on a holistic and collaborative approach, the Government of Portugal created, in 2015, the Ministry of the Sea, responsible for the coordination of maritime affairs, the promotion of a sustainable ocean economy, and the formation and monitoring of ocean policies based on scientific knowledge, innovation and technological development.

The Ministry plays a cross-cutting role, coordinating several issues and the work of corresponding institutions that have traditionally depended on other sectorial ministries. These institutions support planning and knowledge related to the oceans, as well as the implementation of policies for the protection and exploitation of marine resources; the promotion of an effective presence in the sea and its uses; a sustainable sea economy; and the coordination of national participation in European and international bodies responsible for the design and monitoring of maritime policies.

The maritime areas under national sovereignty or jurisdiction—the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf, extended within the scope of the proposal presented by the Government of Portugal to the United Nations in 2009—constitute one of the main assets for the future development of the country. The biological, genetic, mineral and energy resources that these areas contain open prospects for exploration that can establish Portugal as a model for economic growth and, above all, as a protector of marine biodiversity. Moreover, Portugal is a pioneer in the preservation of special marine ecosystems outside its EEZ, such as the hydrothermal vents in the Azores, on which Portugal reports to the network of marine protected areas established by the Commission of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the OSPAR Commission).

Within this national context, it is important to address the challenge of balancing environmental protection and economic growth. In our opinion, technological and business innovation can reconcile the protection of marine biodiversity and the rights of sovereign States, including economic rights. For Portugal, innovation and the transfer of knowledge and expertise from the science and technology sectors to civil society paves the way for the world’s populations to have a more sustainable relationship with the marine environment, with a more efficient use of resources resulting in less impact.

Knowledge is an engine that can change the potential of Portugal’s geostrategic position in the following areas:

  1. The creation of added value in traditional economic activities, such as fisheries and port activity, enhancing the circular bioeconomy, avoiding the waste of resources and reconverting industrial waste. This refers specifically to the maximization of the use of sea life already caught, thereby reducing levels of catches, or the collection of marine litter, which can be recycled and reconverted into new products.
  2. New sources of sustainable growth provided by a set of emerging activities, from biotechnology to renewable ocean energy.
  3. The use of tools for the planning, monitoring and management of marine spaces to ensure the sustainable use of resources. Portugal is also in a position to assume a relevant role in the use of marine protected areas as an efficient mechanism for the management of specific marine ecosystems. Our short-term goal is to protect 10 per cent of our marine spaces.

In this respect we must assume a paradigm shift. We no longer want to simply monitor impacts; we will pursue a precautionary approach to avoid undertaking activities that could adversely affect the ocean.

In order to achieve all of this, we must also exercise our sovereignty.

Therefore, we want to:

  1. Ensure an effective presence in our seas through adequate defence, security and inspection capacities that integrate ships, aircraft and modern surveillance systems; support the observance of law, order and human security, defending the public interest in the maritime search and rescue zones under national jurisdiction or in partnerships; issue licences and regulate concessions of economic activities in maritime areas under national sovereignty or jurisdiction.
  2. Promote ocean literacy, a key element for raising awareness among the Portuguese population about the importance of the ocean in our daily lives and for teaching new generations about the benefits that oceanic ecosystems provide for society, through the inclusion of specific content in school curricula and sea activities in school sports programmes, as well as outreach programmes for adults.
  3. Promote sea management and the protection of natural capital and marine ecosystem resources by establishing priorities for action that preserve and enhance such capital through an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas, based on sound management plans that contribute to their valorization within the scope of the ocean economy.

For this to succeed it is essential to generate and manage knowledge on the tremendous resources of our oceans and seas. This requires a strategic investment in marine scientific research, which in the medium to long term will enable rapid and sustainable growth. The enhanced knowledge of ocean resources in the biological, biotechnological, geological, mineral, and energy fields will establish Portugal as a strategic partner in the international community. The Government is, therefore, determined to invest in generating knowledge about Portuguese seas as a strategic asset.

This commitment to ocean knowledge is aimed at fostering the national marine science and technology sectors as generators of highly qualified human capital and high-quality know-how, as well as establishing an international reputation that will allow us to introduce innovation in products and processes of the marine environment sector. Such a commitment is essential to ocean governance, as well as to further development of the national economy of the sea. Thus, knowledge about the seas and oceans will promote their sustainability. This approach will allow Portugal to compete in areas such as marine biotechnology, providing an opportunity for the creation of new and innovative pharmaceutical and medical applications; off­shore technologies, including underwater robotics, floating ocean structures and offshore platforms; and ocean monitoring systems and supercomputing modelling, which will enable continuous monitoring of the environmental state of the ocean and the impacts of human activity and climate change.

Portugal’s approach to the ocean economy corresponds with the major issues currently under discussion at the international level, such as marine genetic resources access and benefit-sharing; marine spatial management tools, including marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments; and capacity development and implementation of innovative technology. These issues are at the core of the country’s vision for a sustainable and equitable use of the ocean.

I will have the opportunity to discuss this and other issues at the Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017. I also invite everyone to the Oceans Meeting, to be held in Lisbon from 7 to 8 September 2017 under the theme “The Ocean and Human Health”. At the meeting, we intend to establish a common vision on the positive and negative effects that the oceans have on human physical and mental health.

We must all be aware of our dependence on the oceans on all levels, and we must act to ensure the sustainability of oceans now and for future generations.

Author bio: Ana Paula Vitorino is Minister of the Sea, Portugal.

Protecting Small Island Developing States from Pollution and the Effects of Climate Change

By Ahmed Sareer

There are few more powerful symbols of the international community’s shared past and future than the ocean. From the earliest human migrations, it carried our ancestors to new continents, brought civilizations together, and opened the world to exploration and trade. It also connects us ecologically. Numerous fish species swim across territorial waters to spawn and feed, supporting billion-dollar fisheries and countless livelihoods. Most importantly, the ocean is the central force in regulating the global climate that sustains us all. In fact, scientists have shown that since the onset of the industrial age, the oceans have borne the brunt of consequences from excessive burning of fossil fuels, absorbing carbon dioxide emissions and the majority of the heat generated from global warming.

But even the vast ocean has its limits. All that CO2 has turned it more acidic, effectively dissolving corals and shellfish and profoundly altering critical habitats and marine resources. At the same time, sea surface temperatures are the highest they have been in millions of years, and there is now evidence warming is occurring much deeper than previously anticipated. New research suggests that by acting as a temperature sink, the oceans have prevented catastrophic temperature rise on land. A 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature report called soaring ocean temperatures the “greatest hidden challenge of our generation.”1 “Hidden” because beneath the waves, warming has affected all marine life, from the smallest microbes to the largest whales, setting the stage for a precipitous collapse and putting “key human sectors […] at threat, especially fisheries, aquaculture, coastal risk management, health and coastal tourism.”2 This threat is particularly acute for small island developing States (SIDS). We are still highly dependent on marine resources for food and income, and need vibrant ocean habitats for our tourism businesses. We are also vulnerable to rising sea levels driven by global warming, which not only threaten our coastal infrastructure, but could also render our islands uninhabitable if left unchecked.

For these reasons, the Maldives and many other SIDS, often known as large ocean States, were some of the strongest proponents of Sustainable Development Goal 14 in the 2030 Agenda.

SDG 14 comprises a number of targets designed to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” It also recognizes that meeting these targets will be difficult if not impossible if we do not limit the greenhouse gas emissions that lie behind so many problems.

Indeed, SIDS have also led the world in efforts to implement SDG 14, from our ambitious efforts to cut emissions to sustainable development projects that help us adapt to life in a warming world. Consider SIDS work to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) that benefit millions upon millions of people who depend on healthy marine systems for food and income around the world.

Beginning in 2004, for example, the Maldives worked with the United Nations to establish the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve. It was selected because of its remarkable biodiversity and potential to demonstrate the economic benefits of conservation. In just a short period of time, the atolls have shown remarkable resilience against warming waters compared to other habitats.

In the Caribbean, the MPAs of Grenada are living evidence of how protecting essential fish habitat pays long­term benefits by raising the productivity of commercially valuable stocks.

Elsewhere, in the Pacific, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia have devoted a significant amount of their waters to MPAs, safeguarding sharks, turtles and critical spawning grounds for countless species. They have also worked tirelessly to call attention to the problem of plastics pollution, which poses a severe threat to marine life and the human communities it sustains on land.

Still, even as we work to protect and restore marine environments, islands have been forced to make large investments to protect our shores from severe climate change impacts such as erosion and rising seas. In the Maldives, we have been forced to climate-proof infrastructure, including wharfs, roads, sea walls and sanitation. These projects are extremely costly and divert resources away from other priorities such as public health and education. Other SIDS have had to reimagine their development futures in the face of the uncertainties that stem from climate change and ocean degradation.

One thing is for sure: just as the impacts of overfishing, pollution and climate change are global, so too are the solutions. Protecting the ocean for present and future generations requires all countries to fulfil the commitments made to support the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and cut emissions. Like the ocean, SDG 14 must bring us together again.

Notes

 

1       Dan Laffoley and John M. Baxter, eds., Explaining Ocean Warming: Causes, Scale, Effects and Consequences (Gland, Switzerland, International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2016), p. 8. Available from: https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2016-046_0.pdf.

2       Ibid., p. 50.

 

Author bio: Ahmed Sareer is Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations.

The Sustainable Development Goals: a learning process for private sector, local authorities, the youth and Librarians in the country.

The United Nations Youth Association of Zambia, Chingola Chapter organized a series of discussions on the SDGs with focus on Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable in Chingola, while the other was organized through the Library Association of Zambia (LIAZ). These discussions took place from June 18 through July 21, 2016 at Icon Hotel in Chingola and Fatmols Executive Lodge in Ndola respectively.

The SDGs

The SDGs

The first discussion had youths from different backgrounds in attendance, including students at tertiary level and those in both formal and informal business. During this session they were given a general overview of the SDGs and specific information on goal 11 and its impact on the city of Chingola was given by Charles Nonde, Team Assistant UNIC Lusaka.

Mr, Zulu, Director of Planning at the Chingola City Council, shared some insight in the practical things that the council is doing in realizing SDG 11. He said that the council has partnered with UNEP and will be constructing an energy efficient and sustainable building in the centre of Chingola that will act as a show piece and example for promoting modern day buildings that are also sustainable. He also explained that the council was in the process of obtaining solar street lights and have them installed in various locations of the city as a way of averting the current power deficit being faced countrywide.

Mr. Sakala a private sector ICT entrepreneur who runs an entity called Net Innovation Enterprise in Chingola gave a presentation on how they are incorporating the SDGs as part of their operating strategy and promoting good sustainable business practices.

The Library Association of Zambia (LIAZ) holds its annual general conference in July, this year it was from 19th to 21st July 2016, and extended an invitation to the centre to present on the SDGs and how Librarians and other information professionals can help achieve them through their various channels. A presentation was done by Charles Nonde, Team Assistant together with the LIAZ President Mrs. Velenasi Munsanje. The conference with attended by 80 librarians from different institutions countrywide, encompassing academic and professional bodies.

Information professionals were reminded that libraries make an important contribution to development, it was also highlighted that economic development can be broadened so that it now involves not only the reduction in poverty, inequality and unemployment but also to an improvement in the quality of life which includes a cleaner environment, better education, good health and nutrition.

In our knowledge society, libraries provide access and opportunity for all. Libraries guarantee access to information, a cross-cutting target that supports all SDGs said the LIAZ President.

While SDGs are universal goals, each country is responsible for developing and implementing national strategies in order to achieve them. The relevance of libraries and other specialized units is key to creating awareness and promoting the SDGs by aligning themselves to the specifics of the SDGs.

Mr. Nonde, emphasized that libraries have the responsibility of transforming our world
increasing access to information and knowledge across the society, assisted by the availability of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), supports sustainable development and improves people’s lives

UN Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan tours the Copperbelt: Economic Development and the SDGs

The UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Ms. Janet Rogan undertook a one-week tour of the Copperbelt from June 27 to June 30, 2016. During this time, she visited a number of private sector entities in the mining industry at small to large scale from Lufwanyama to Chililabombwe in order to better understand their business models and the various partnerships if any that exist and how they fit into the development agenda of the country and the SDGs. She also visited one of the largest beef producing farms in the country Zambeef located in Mpongwe district, Copperbelt.

Monday June 27

There were two visits to the Provincial Administration; courtesy calls to the Permanent Secretary Rev. Howard J Sikwela and the Commissioner of Police Ms. Charity Katanga

After the visits in Ndola, the mission went to Mpongwe and visited the Mpongwe Agriculture Development Corporation being managed by Zambeef Zambia limited. During the visit, the team was met by Ms. Brenda Lombard who is the Commercial manager. Ms. Lombard gave an outline of the operations of Zambeef and its expansion program in the chicken production unit, where it has plans to supply an average of 300,000 chicks every week. The expansion will create at least 3000 jobs for the locals and ready market for maize for the small scale farmers in and around Mpongwe, as Zambeef would require an average 30,000 tons of maize for stock feed production on a monthly basis.

The mission also visited one of the clinics and school that Zambeef supports. At the school the Ms. Rogan took time to engage with the pupils and discussed the role of the UN in development activities. She encouraged the girl child on the importance of getting an education with the message “school first and babies later”. She also shared the information with the pupils the work of the UN and this was appreciated as there was little knowledge on the subject matter. At the clinic she was given a tour of the facility and the services they provide including provision of ART and management of medical waste. On medical waste management the mission engaged the health staff to explore modern and efficient technologies of waste management that do not only contribute to environmental protection but also mitigate climate change such as autoclave.
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Tuesday June 28

UN Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan Entourage touring Lufwanyama at Dambisa Mine

UN Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan Entourage touring Lufwanyama at Dambisa Mine

The day begun with an inception meeting with the Executive Team of the Emerald Mining Association of Zambia in Kitwe. The president of the association gave a brief history of the mining operations on the Copperbelt and that of the Association highlighting the following:
• The need for capacity building to support the small scale miners
• Access to long term financing
• Need to help miners with skills development
• Support towards linkages to big players in the industry

While in Lufwanyama The RC’s entourage visited two small scale emerald mining sites (one operational, the other not) and a large scale mine owned and operated by Gemcanton.

i. The first site visited is owned by Ms. Violet Lewis and at the time of the visit, no mining activities were ongoing as it was flooded which is one of the challenges faced by small mining operations. The flooding occurs due to lack of equipment for pumping water.
ii. The second site visited was at Dabwisa Small Scale Mining Operation owned and managed by Mr. Malan Ngwira, a retired teacher. Despite being small scale, the local investor has mobilized heavy duty machinery to help in the mining of the emeralds. It was also observed that the work force had the appropriate protective gear to enable them work in the hazardous environment.

iii. Visit to Gemcanton/Grizzly Large Scale Emerald Mining: The visit begun with an induction from mine management at which they explained the investment portfolio of the mine. Key lesson at this mine was the deliberate effort to retool local uneducated staff in some of the

Snap shoot of the open pit mine at Gemcanton mine lufwanyama

Snap shoot of the open pit mine at Gemcanton mine lufwanyama

company’s mining chains. Local staff are being recruited to work as sorters, welders, miners and machine operators. After a period of 6 months, the recruited staff are awarded certificates which will enable them to get employed in any mine. The company is also supporting adult evening classes for those who want to learn English. From the time the company took over the operations of the mine in 2015, they have managed to increase the workforce from 300 to 700.

The team was then taken on a tour of the mining operations on site that included the open pit mine, the washer and sorting areas.

Gemcanton Management also reaffirmed its commitment to support other mining operations in the area and exploring possible partnerships with small scale miners especially in helping to negotiate better prices as they have global links with key players in the sector. They requested the UN to continue supporting the policy framework that would enable them to operate effectively. The issue of electricity supply was cited as a key challenge that the sector is facing. Furthermore, there is need for government to develop infrastructure such as roads to support the sector.

Wednesday June 29

Visit to Konkola Copper Mines, Chililabombwe and Nchanga

One of the anode making sections at Nchanga Mine in Chingola

One of the anode making sections at Nchanga Mine in Chingola

After meeting management at the headquarters of KCM, the team was taken on a tour of the underground mining operations in Chililabombwe and operations at Nchanga, Chingola and shown the process of how the copper anodes are produced.

Thursday June 30

Private Partnership meeting Mukuba Hotel, Ndola

Private Partnership meeting Mukuba Hotel, Ndola

Private Sector dialogue at Mukuba hotel, the RC delivered a speech at this forum and also gave an exclusive interview to the media houses present on the side lines of the dialogue. Among the issues she spoke on included the referendum, the bill of rights and its meaning to the people of Zambia.

The RC lead the discussion and advocacy on how the private sector could be part of the global development agenda through the UN led concepts on Business Call to Action and the Global Compact
Ndola Energy Limited (NEL) – Power producer (50 MW) from heavy fuels

After the the private sector dialogue meeting in the morning, the RC Team visited Ndola Energy, the team was oriented in the inner working of the plant and given a safety talk before being taken around the plant. The visitors learnt that NEL sells its power to ZESCO and depends on Indeni for its raw materials FCO that it uses in the production of electricity. The purpose of the visits was to engage with different players in the energy sector on how they can contribute towards the attainment of SDG 7, Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and also contribute to the country’s energy mix

Friday July 1

Visit to Kitwe- Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation

RC meeting with the women's group in kitwe

UN Resident Coordinator meeting with the women’s group in kitwe

The purpose of this visit was to showcase some of the women who have not only benefitted from housing units but also skills that they have obtained in assembling solar panels and installing them. The women’s group also makes its own bricks which it uses to construct houses in the area. Of the 150 plots given 100 of them have fully constructed units or are in various stages of completion.

Ms. Bupe the coordinator of the Federation explained that the financial support that the women received for raw materials was in the form of a loan that acted as revolving fund to help those in need of assistance.

One of the women took the team around her house and explained how she was able to design and install an electrical system for the solar panel, she also explained that she earns some extra income from the skills she obtained in assembling and installing solar systems within the neighborhood and beyond. RC congratulated the women for commitment and advised them to transform the initiative into a business.

Zambia Celebrates 70 years of the United Nations

United Nations this year celebrates its 70th anniversary on 24th October 2015. This marks the day in 1948 when the Charter of the United Nations was brought into force. UN Day is celebrated every year to recognize how much the UN contributes to the world peace and common progress.

Zambia commemorated the UN Day under the global theme “UN@70-Strong UN Better World”.
The UN Day celebrations are an opportunity to promote universal values and principles and renew its relations with its various national and international partners. 2015 is unique and historic as it being promoted as the “time for global action” for Sustainable Development.

Furthermore, the UN day celebrations are a great opportunity to promote the UN system as a development partner with the government and various partners. It is a time to reflect on the many areas in which the UN works such as human rights, gender and environmental norms and values across the sustainable development partnership.

This year the UN day celebrations in Zambia raised awareness, of the UN’s vision and role in Zambia, to create greater understanding across government and society of the sustainable development goals in particular SDG 16 and the UN in Zambia’s strengthened focus on partnership and to strengthen relations between the UN county team and partners, both present and potential new actors such as the private sector.

Amid the threat of poverty, economic crises, underdevelopment and regional conflicts, peacekeeping has become the main focus of the UN, whose vast family of agencies are tirelessly engaged in improving people’s lives around the world. Better rates of child survival, greater environmental protection, improved human rights, health research and continuing work to eliminate poverty, among countless other achievements, are all examples of the UN’s success since its establishment were the many things highlighted during the celebrations.

Students from Northmead Secondary School preparing art works

Students from Northmead Secondary School preparing art works

As part of the UN Day activities, a school art exhibition was also organized under the theme “bluing the UN” which runs from October 22 to November 1 at various locations including the UN Information Centre. Students used the UN corporate colors blue and white to interpret what the UN meant to them. 10 schools representing 60 students participated to produce 70 art works, the themes covered included health, gender equality, education, peacekeeping, refugees and the flagship theme UN@70 among the many other broad areas in which the UN is engaged in worldwide.

At the reception hosted at the residence of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Janet Rogan on October 20, 2015. It was a colourful ceremony for invited guests that included Government, UN partners, donors, Civil Society and corporate entities like Standard Chartered Bank. The UN used this occasion to also rally the men to sign up for the HeforShe Campaign as a way of showing their support against gender based violence.

The climax of the celebrations was with a UN staff Day on 0ctober 22, 2015 held at the Mulungushi Conference Centre dubbed the “UN Staff learning day” were staff learnt about their unique position in the delivering as one process and how they are expected to continue to deliver on the promise of leaving no one behind. Later in the day it was time to relax and dance the night away as they celebrated 70 years of the United Nations.

HeforShe registration, left to right Vincent Mwale, the minister of youth and sport, Stephen Kaunda, UNDP and Mulenga Sata, Deputy Minister State House

HeforShe registration, left to right Vincent Mwale, the minister of youth and sport, Stephen Kaunda, UNDP and Mulenga Sata, Deputy Minister State House