OSPAR is the regional sea organisation for the North East Atlantic. We help our 16 Contracting Parties cooperate with each other as they seek to conserve and protect the marine environment. OSPAR’s strength is to help our parties to their maximise achievement of their environmental objectives within the realities of the marine ecosystems and the social and economic realities of the geography of the North East Atlantic.
This means we help holistic decision-making, taking into account the interactions between the many different human activities in the sea, the pressures these create and then the response in the natural environment. Part of that process is to understand the cumulative effects of different industries and activity as well as assessing the status of the seas.
But to maximise these environmental, social and economic objectives (as with the Sustainable Development Goals) means we have to work not just across national borders in the sea, but regional ones, sectoral ones and those between EEZ and the wider high seas.
OSPAR has shown one way in achieving this. Our cooperation with the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission now works at both institutional, secretariat and national level. We have cooperated on our environmental and fisheries objectives, without encroaching on each other’s legal mandate. We are in particular demonstrating our cooperation on area-based management in the high seas.
But cooperation must continue to develop with other sectors such as deep sea mining with the International Seabed Authority or shipping with the International Maritime Organisation. At this stage this is done through cooperation at secretariat level and MOUs. But we hope that we can also develop our cooperation if the articulation between what happens at the global level and the regional level is improved.
And finally we also cooperate with our neighbours, such as on marine litter with HELCOM and the Barcelona convention, or with the working groups under the Arctic Council or the Abidjan convention in West and Southern Africa. We have found differences in mandates, ways of working and differing contracting parties don’t have to be barriers to cooperation. Instead, by respecting each other’s mandates and working together we can enhance our respective objectives.
The Sustainable Development Goals aim to maximise social, economic and environmental objectives. These are often competing agendas and tensions. However our cross sectoral and regional cooperation has taught us that building trusting relationships between organisations can proceed with effort, and that in fact creative tension can deliver the whole more effectively.
(Speech made by Mr. Darius Campbell)