Uniting and activating powerful voices for ocean conservation

Ocean Reflections

reflectionsA look back at what's been happening

Preparations underway for UN's Ocean Conference in June

Last week, delegates from around the world gathered in New York to attend the preparatory meeting for the UN’s Ocean Conference that will assess implementation of the Ocean SDG 14: Life Below Water in June. See Ocean Unite’s talking points and NGO platform Oceans Inc. for more background.

Despite teething problems re. access to the UN building for some groups, as well as confusion on the desired outcomes for the June meeting, governments, civil society and other stakeholders outlined their wish lists for inclusion in a political “Call for Action” declaration, as well as the themes to be included in the partnership dialogues. This led to a wide exchange of views (click here for a more detailed overview of interventions), including questions on whether to raise ambitions (such as the need to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030), or avoid renegotiating targets (even though some expire as early as 2020), as well as whether further meetings were needed to assess implementation or whether to rely on existing processes.

 These words will be translated into a text that is “concise and action-oriented”. This is the lucky task of the co-chairs from Portugal and the Philippines, who will reflect discussions in the zero draft that will be ready by the end of February, with negotiating sessions scheduled for 20–21st March.

The June meeting is hoped to be a “game changer”. Central to the list of outcomes for the meeting is a Registry of Voluntary Commitments, where everyone is encouraged to make pledges on their actions to implement SDG14. Sweden was one of the first to register their commitments on the registry with their announcement to expand their MPA network to reach the SDG target by 2017 already.

While a lot of emphasis has focused on voluntary commitments, the “Call for Action” is really the nub of the Conference, as it will encapsulate the-high level political commitments from world leaders to regenerate the Ocean to ensure sustainable development. It will serve as the vision for how to get to a healthy Ocean by 2030, acting as a reference point for action and compelling governments to implement the SDG14 targets. It therefore needs to be ambitious and inclusive, and include accountability measures to ensure that commitments are followed through, as well as a call for more financing to implement solutions. 

To stay informed in the lead-up to the June meeting, check out the Ocean Action hub, and sign up to the newsletter here. If you want to put on a side event at the June meeting, it will need to be sponsored by member states, UN system and other inter-governmental organizations as well as major groups or other stakeholders. Guidelines and a request form are now available on the Conference website. The deadline for proposals is 31st March 2017.