This week, the United Nations Summit will endorse the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Global Ocean Commission welcomes the emphasis on the need to both protect the ocean and shift to sustainable patterns of use and consumption of marine resources, as reflected in the Summit Declaration Transforming our World.
“We envisage […] a world in which consumption and production patterns and use of all natural resources – from air to land, from rivers, lakes and aquifers to oceans and seas – are sustainable”, says the Declaration (Paragraph 9). It recognises the severity of human-induced climate change on the marine and coastal environment (Paragraph 14): “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development. Increases in global temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification and other climate change impacts are seriously affecting coastal areas and low-lying coastal countries, including many least-developed countries and small island developing States. The survival of many societies, and of the biological support systems of the planet, is at risk.” It then states that the signatories: “are therefore determined to conserve and sustainably use oceans and seas.” (Paragraph 33)
To this end, SDG 14 “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”, which was identified last year in the Global Ocean Commission report From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean as one of eight proposals necessary to reverse ocean decline, has been unanimously agreed. SDG 14 contains seven targets which are consistent with the proposals of the Global Ocean Commission and which come under several issues: marine pollution (including the impacts from CO2 concentrations) (Targets 14.1 and 14.3); ecosystem protection and resilience (Targets 14.2 and 14.5); fisheries conservation (Targets 14.4 and 14.6); as well as economic opportunities for those most vulnerable (Target 14.7).
To secure proper implementation, the Global Ocean Commission has proposed a set of indicators relevant to the high seas, to monitor and benchmark progress on the implementation of these targets between 2016 and 2030. The Commission also welcomes the proposal by a group of influential countries to hold a series of UN Ocean Conferences every three years to monitor and review how well SDG 14 is implemented.
In a guest article published by the International Institute on Sustainable development (IISD) last week, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Global Ocean Commission, Rémi Parmentier emphasised the important of the ocean for sustainable development: “Without a healthy and resilient ocean, it would be hard to achieve other agreed Sustainable Development Goals, such as food security and improving nutrition (SDG 2), reducing inequality (SDG 10), sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) and combatting climate change and its impacts (SDG 13).”