Uniting and activating powerful voices for ocean conservation

The Navigator

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Young fry

This month, ye olde Navigator thought it would kick off with an ode to the power of youth and “shout out” for what they are doing to fight for Ocean protection.

While the “young generation” – Millennials, Generation Y, Generation Me or whatever they may be called this week – get a bashing (mainly by middle-aged grumps) for being self-obsessed techno junkies that lack a good old-fashioned work ethic, they are a group (84% according to a report by Deloitte) that believe it is their duty to make the world a better place.

Let’s face it, the younger generation has a lot to be angry about. They are the reluctant heirs of a rapidly climate changing world and will have to pay the highest price for our trashing of the planet. Luckily, a growing wave of young people are fed up with what they’re seeing around them, and are organizing and reaching out to other young people to take their future into their own hands.

A great example is the Sustainable Oceans Alliance, which just held its 3rd Annual Sustainable Oceans Summit, on Earth Day (22nd April). This US student-led organization aims to empower the next generation to become leaders in Ocean protection and to build a global coalition of young Ocean champions. They have just launched their #MaketheOceanFamous social media campaign that urges everyone to treat the Ocean like a celebrity rather than trashing it.

There are more young people in the world than ever – over a quarter of the world’s population is under the age of 15. Inspiring this even-younger generation to care about our planet will hopefully result in a bigger wave of future government, industry and community leaders who are not just thinking about short-term gains. There are already lots of great kids' initiatives happening around the world – from kids' programmes with large Ocean NGOs, to groups set up especially for children – such as Ocean Youth in Australia or the Youth Ocean Conservation summits in the USA.

And it is important to start Ocean conservation education early. A great tip if you have small kids, grandkids, nephews or nieces, is this super cute new Bethechange.org book – “Finn the fortunate tiger shark and his fantastic friends”. It’s the first book in a series that aims to engage children about the crucial issue of plastic in our Ocean and show them what we can do about it. All profits will go to Greenpeace and the Social Plastic Foundation.

Seen from the Lighthouse – what's happening now?   lighthouse

29th April – the People’s Climate March

Hot on the heels of last Saturday's March for Science is the People’s Climate March on the 29th April. People in Washington DC, but also all around the world, will take to the streets again, this time to march for jobs, justice and the climate. This march takes on an even greater significance than previous climate marches because of the U-turn in climate policy the new US administration has taken. But it’s a total misconception to think that preventing climate change negatively impacts jobs and the economy. It is, in fact, just the opposite. Luckily, not only the environmental movement, but business heavyweights and a coalition of 17 US States are challenging Trump’s reckless climate change policy.

It’s been truly impressive to see the level of engagement around the world during this year’s Earth Day. People in their millions from more than 600 different places, including the Arctic and Antartica, marched in defense of science, sending the message that science is valued, important for society, and crucial for protecting future generations. Apparently the crowds in DC were even greater than the recent US Presidential inauguration… with many uniting in protest at the US’s decision to slash funding for environmental science. There were lots of brilliantly clever and nerdy signs, including The Navigator’s personal favourite – “The Oceans are rising and so are we”.

To find out more about the Climate March activities, check out this facebook page.

Join NGOs in urging the EU to step up action to promote sustainable fisheries

Ocean NGOs have been putting extra pressure on the EU this month. Firstly, on the 18th April a letter signed by 112 Europe-based organizations asked members of the European Parliament to oppose a proposed amendment to re-introduce subsidies for the construction of fishing vessels in an upcoming vote on the 27th April. The re-introduction makes no sense, especially considering efforts to reduce harmful subsidies globally at the WTO and the Sustainable Development Goal on the Ocean (SDG14). There is still time to urge MEPs to do the right thing by tweeting “@Europarl_EN 27 April- subsidising overcapacity in fleets won’t help fishermen or fish stocks. Reject re-intro of harmful subsidies”.

On the 21st April, NGOs sent a letter to Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, urging effective implementation of the new EU deep-sea fisheries regulation, which entered into force in January of this year. This means no more deep-sea bottom trawling (below 800 metres) and putting conservation measures in place quickly. Get involved by tweeting “New EU #deepsea fishing reg will effectively protect corals & sponges if @EU_MARE acts to implement quickly http://buff.ly/2pLohik”.

And just a couple of days ago, organizations that are part of the Our Fish campaign shone a light(literally!) on the EU’s poor performance on implementing the Common Fisheries policy at a large seafood expo fair in Brussels.

#StopSucking – let everyone know that plastic straws really suck

Ocean plastic is definitely the poster child of everything that is going wrong with the Ocean, and plastic straws are perhaps the most poignant example of the throwaway culture we have created. Apparently, Americans use 500 million plastic straws every single day – enough to span the world twice… And not all of them end up in the bin, they litter waterways and the Ocean, just like the other 8.8 million tonnes of plastic we use per year. Lots of different initiatives are underway to tackle plastic – from 5 Gyres’ #topless4Oceans campaign on styrofoam, to Plastic Menace’s Instagram page, to the UN Environment’s global #CleanSeas campaign, to Ocean Conservancy’s massive, international, volunteers' coastal clean-up efforts.

And now the Lonely Whale Foundation, co-founded by actor and Ocean Unite Network member, Adrian Grenier has added its voice to a new campaign called Strawless Ocean, telling people to #StopSucking on plastic straws. Share this video and take the pledge (scroll down), and post a photo of yourself going straw-less on #stopsucking.

Arctic Council warming up for new Chairmanship

Last month’s Navigator gave a heads up that the Arctic Council (a body focusing on sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic) will soon be changing leadership, from the US government to the Finnish government, at its Ministerial meeting from 10–11th May.

There has been criticism of the effectiveness of the Council in the past, due to the fact that it only makes non-binding, voluntary recommendations. However, more recently it has been the forum for the signing of 2 new legally binding agreements on Search and Rescue and Oil Spill Response by the Arctic states. It is also seen as playing a key role by being a platform for deeper cooperation and stability in the region.

An ongoing project within the Council is trying to give it a more longer-term outlook, rather than setting new priorities at the start of every 2-year Chairmanship. The hope is to finalise these plans during the Finnish Chairmanship – which could lead to a multi-year strategic plan – potentially lasting up to 10 years. Which makes sense. Read here to find out more about what has been going on at the Council.

For example, the Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) just released a number of new scientific reports at the International Conference on Arctic Science: Bringing Knowledge to Action, including a new scientific assessment of climate change in the Arctic and findings on snow water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic that show “…the Arctic will not return to previous conditions this century”.


Waves on the Horizon – what's coming up?

The Ocean Conference – an update on the updates

Firstly, the more exciting stuff – on Sunday 4th June, the day before the Ocean Conference officially begins, the first World Ocean Festival will take place in New York City! Activists and enthusiasts will take to NYC’s streets and waterways to raise their voices to reverse the declining health of our oceans. This will include a grand “Ocean march”, with a parade of sailing vessels on the Hudson, and events at the Ocean Village that celebrate art and innovation, including exhibits on the Ocean and climate action. Click here to find out more.

And now onto the updates. Following a round of consultations, a 2nd draft of the SDG14 Call for Action has been released. While stronger than the last version, as is often the case with consensus-driven processes, it could still do with a little more oomph. The next round of consultations is held on the 24th, 25th and 27th April 2017 in New York.

Online pre-registration for NGOs to attend the Ocean Conference is open until 8th May 2017 – here’s more info on who is eligible for pre-registration. All stakeholders are encouraged to register voluntary commitments geared towards driving implementation of SDG14, including ones that were made on previous occasions. If you want to speak at plenary sessions, show your interest here until 26th May 2017. And here’s some detailed information on the dialogue sessions, which will make up a core part of the conference.

And, finally, the World Bank just released its 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals, which includes more than 150 maps to help track efforts in achieving the 17 SDGs. Meanwhile, the UNGA hosted a high-level event on financing SDGs, which highlighted the need for an estimated US$ 6 trillion per year to effectively implement the goals. While this might sound high, the cost of inaction is far higher and the rate of return is also impressive – a US$ 12 trillion opportunity in just the food and agriculture, cities, energy, and resources sectors.

World Oceans Day

On the 8th June, during the week of the Ocean Conference, will be World Oceans Day. This year the theme is “Our Oceans, Our Future”, and the conservation focus is “Encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future”. Most of us won't be in New York at the Ocean Conference – with any luck some of you will be near the Ocean instead. What will you do to celebrate World Ocean Day? Check out the website to download resources, follow blogs, register your event or find out what is happening near you, and be part of an ever-growing, global, Ocean movement.

Click here for a forward-looking calendar


Ocean Reflections – a look back at what's been happening

High seas discussions continue to navigate forward

On the 7th April the UN concluded round 3 of its preparatory meetings to discuss the draft text of a new agreement to protect high seas biodiversity. According to high seas veterans, the meeting “could not have ended on a better note”. A number of governments supported recommendations to be made in July, at the UN's 4th and final session on elements of draft text for a new legally binding agreement, which would enable the UNGA to convene an intergovernmental conference. The Chair is now requested to develop a new “non-paper” that streamlines his previous “non-paper”. (Don’t you just love UN speak?!). This is excellent news, so hopefully the next meeting won’t be a total “non-starter”!

You can find a detailed run-down of the meeting  at Earth Negotiation Bulletin’s excellent summary. If you want to find out more about high seas treasures visit MPAtlas.org’s new high seas mapper, and for a reminder on why this agreement is so important check out Belgium’s lead negotiator’s article.

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