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2022 UN OCEAN CONFERENCE: AN OPPORTUNITY NOT TO BE MISSED FOR THE BLUE PLANET

2022 UN Ocean Conference

2022 UN Ocean Conference: An Opportunity not to be Missed for the Blue Planet

This week, Lisbon is hosting the second UN Conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (‘SDG 14’). Within the framework of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, SDG 14 on “life below water” aims at conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources. The Conference is co-hosted by the Governments of Portugal and Kenya, and will welcome world leaders, scientists, the business community, NGOs and activists to discuss and agree on action to preserve and sustainably use the oceans. The EU will participate to the Lisbon event to reaffirm its strong commitment to the implementation of SDG 14.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries says: “After the “One Ocean Summit” in Brest and the “Our Ocean Conference” in Palau, the UN Conference is another opportunity for the international community to agree on actions to protect the oceans and to develop a sustainable blue economy. Solutions exist. They are in our hands. So, let’s act quickly and decisively.”

Science and innovation at the basis of Ocean Action

The UN Conference aims to propel science-based innovative solutions for a new chapter of global ocean action. Solutions for a sustainably managed ocean can involve green technology and innovative uses of marine resources. They include addressing the threats to the health, economy and governance of the ocean – acidification, marine pollution, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, or the loss of habitats and biodiversity.

The three deliverables of the conference will be a political declaration, the summary reports of the interactive dialogues as well as voluntary commitments. The declaration reflects many of the priorities of the EU and its Member States. Upon EU request, the human dimension and the sense of urgency in achieving SDG 14 were strengthened. The 52 voluntary commitments the EU takes in Lisbon are part of the action-oriented approach pursued by the EU’s International Ocean Governance Agenda. They are worth up to €7 billion and they confirm the EU’s prominent role as a global ocean leader.

In the margins of the conference, the Charter for the EU Mission “Restore our Ocean and waters” will be launched. With this charter, the Commission is stepping up its level of ambition to deliver on the mission by inviting Member States, regions and a wide range of stakeholders to sign the charter and pledge actions that will contribute to the successful implementation of the mission and its lighthouses.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth says: “The ocean and waters are the cradle of all life on Earth and our planet’s life support system. But they need our attention now! With the launch of this charter, the European Commission calls on governments and public authorities from Europe and around the world, businesses, civil society, financiers and donors as well as universities and researchers to join our collective mission to restore our blue planet.”

The conference and it’s Youth & Innovation event will also be the occasion to launch the #EUBeachCleanup 2022 campaign, organised with the help of Ocean Azul, APLM, OneOcean, Oceans Blue Heart, The Climate Reality Project Portugal, OneOcean and EDA. 2022 being the European Year of Youth, this will be the opportunity for Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius and Director General of European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Charlina Vitcheva to meet  up with the bright young minds mobilising for the future of our oceans, for the release of a plastic tracker and a beach clean-up.

Background

Adopted in 2015 as an integral aspect of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its set of 17 transformative goals, Goal 14 (“life below water”) stresses the need to conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.

The first Ocean Conference, which took place in New York in June 2017, was the first conference of its kind, dedicated to the implementation of an individual SDG. It marked an important step forward starting a much needed discussion on the ocean and highlighting the status of the ocean and the impact of human activities to the world. Yet, despite all the commitments, the health of the ocean is still declining.

The second UN Ocean Conference should have taken place in 2020. But, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN General Assembly adopted a decision postponing the holding of the conference – co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya – to the last week of June 2022. The objective of the conference is to focus on identifying solutions to ocean problems through science and innovation.

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