International and regional environmental organizations, governments and academia gathered in May 2019 to identify the best practices and experiences, gaps and obstacles in the delivery the voluntary commitments to the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference.
The Meeting of the Communities of Ocean Action “From Commitments to Action: Implementing SDG14” was organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in Incheon, Republic of Korea.
In the opening session, Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said, “The next few years must be one of action and accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda… The ocean and its resources are essential to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] as a whole.”
Yangsoo Kim, Vice Minister, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea, stated: “The issue of marine debris, one of the globally intractable problems, will completely be addressed by the measures improving prevention and buy-back schemes targeting up to 30 per cent reduction by 2022 and 50 per cent by 2030 [in Korea].”
More than 1,400 voluntary commitments to advance the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 and related targets were registered in the 2017 Ocean Conference. Participants in Incheon shared the progress of their voluntary commitments. The Nature Conservancy and the Convention of Biodiversity pointed out that 866 voluntary commitments regarding marine and coastal ecosystems management were registered, there was disproportionate representation of some regions, the private sector and science community were under-represented, and one third of volunteer commitments did not indicate links to other Sustainable Development Goals.
The UN Environment Programme reported that 136 volunteer commitments related to coral reefs were registered, but only 26 per cent were updates. It was suggested to consider certificates for reporting and completion, or awards ceremony at the United Nations Ocean Conference.
India’s Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute introduced the removal of marine debris from reef areas in the Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu, India to reduce the stress to the bleached corals and to support the recovery process. The Institute highlighted that removal of debris was a continuous process and that removal, enforcement and awareness-building among fishers should be in place.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature introduced their “Support to the Government on Marine and Coastal Resource Management and Sustainable Livelihoods in Northern Sri Lanka” and pointed out that resources and political commitment at the local level are less than optimal to meet the complex socio-economic, climate and technology challenges.
The Northwest Pacific Action Plan exchanged views with the participants in the conference on how to further collect data on marine litter, build databases on ocean resources, and engage civil society to achieve the voluntary commitments.