United Nations Ocean Conference 2022
27 June-1 July 2022
The United Nations convened a major intergovernmental conference on oceans in Lisbon, Portugal, on 27 June-1 July 2022, with the theme “Save our ocean – protect our future” (https://www.un.org/en/conferences/ocean2022). IEF president Arthur Dahl participated as part of the delegation of Common Home of Humanity on behalf of the Global Governance Forum.
The Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, came at a critical time as the world is seeking to address many of the deep-rooted problems of our societies laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and which will require major structural transformations and common shared solutions that are anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To mobilize action, the Conference sought to propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin provides a good summary, as usual, of the conference: https://enb.iisd.org/2022-un-ocean-conference-summary, from which the report below is largely extracted.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the Conference, offering four recommendations for addressing the ocean emergency: invest in sustainable ocean economies for food and renewable energy; use the ocean as a model for how to manage global problems for the greater good; protect the ocean and people whose lives and livelihoods depend on them; and invest in early warning systems to protect coastal communities. He said the Conference can open a new horizon for a just and sustainable future for all, making a difference for the ocean and for ourselves.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya, and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Portugal, served as the Conference Co-Presidents. In his opening remarks, President de Sousa underscored the centrality of the ocean to peace and security, health, environmental resilience, and sustainable development. Lamenting that the global goal on the ocean is the least financed SDG, President Kenyatta urged delegates to shift gears from ideas to action driven by science and innovation, and called for examples of nature-based solutions linking the ocean and climate change, as well as financing solutions for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean.
The Small Island Developing States (SIDS), often describing themselves as Large Ocean States, had a prominent voice at the conference, since for many their very existence is threatened by climate change and sea level rise, and they experience at first hand the rapid destruction of fisheries and other ocean resources.
There was both general debate on a range of ocean issues, interactive dialogues, and many side events both at the conference venue and outside across the city. The interactive dialogues addressed: marine pollution; promoting and strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, in particular for SIDS and LDCs; managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems; ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming; making fisheries sustainable and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets; increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology; enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law, as reflected in UNCLOS; and leveraging interlinkages between SDG 14 and other Goals towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The Ocean Conference adopted a political declaration entitled “Our Ocean, Our Future, Our Responsibility” as the outcome document.
In it, Heads of State and Government, and high-level representatives, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders, reaffirm strong commitment to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas and marine resources, and call for greater ambition at all levels to act decisively and urgently to improve health, productivity, sustainable use, and resilience of the ocean and its ecosystems. They also:
• recognize the ocean is fundamental to life on our planet and to our future, underlining the interlinkages and potential synergies between SDG 14 and other SDGs;
• regret collective failure to achieve targets 14.2, 14.4, 14.5, 14.6 that matured in 2020 and renew commitment to taking urgent action and to cooperate at the global, regional and subregional levels to achieve all targets as soon as possible;
• emphasize the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Climate Pact on mitigation, adaptation, and the provision and mobilization of finance, technology transfer, and capacity building to developing countries, including SIDS;
• call for an ambitious, balanced, practical, effective, robust, and transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework for adoption at CBD COP 15, noting voluntary commitments by more than 100 Member States to conserve or protect at least 30% of global ocean within MPA effective area-based conservation measures by 2030, emphasizing the need for strong governance and adequate finance for developing countries, in particular SIDS, and recognizing the importance of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration;
• welcome the UNEA decision to develop an International Legally-Binding Instrument on plastic pollution;
• affirm the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, advancement of nature-based solutions, and ecosystem-based approaches play a critical role to ensure sustainable, inclusive, and environmentally resilient recovery from COVID-19; and
• affirm the need to implement international law as reflected in UNCLOS, recognizing the importance of the work being undertaken on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction and call upon participating delegations to reach an ambitious agreement without delay.
The declaration also recognizes the importance of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) and stresses that science-based and innovative actions and international cooperation and partnerships based in science, technology and innovation, in line with the precautionary approach and ecosystem-based approaches, contribute to the solutions necessary to overcome challenges in achieving Goal 14 through:
• informing integrated ocean management, planning, and decision making;
• restoring and maintaining fish stocks;
• preventing, reducing, and controlling marine pollution of all kinds, from both land- and sea-based sources; and
• developing and implementing measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and avert, minimize and address loss and damage, reducing disaster risk and enhancing resilience, including through increasing the use of renewable energy technologies, especially ocean-based technologies.
The declaration further commits to taking science-based and innovative actions on an urgent basis, recognizing developing countries, in particular SIDS and LDCs, to:
• strengthen international, regional, subregional and national scientific and systematic observation and data collection efforts;
• recognize the important role of Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge, innovation and practices of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities;
• establish effective partnerships;
• explore, develop and promote innovative financing solutions to drive the transformation to sustainable ocean-based economies;
• empower women and girls, as their full, equal and meaningful participation is key in progressing towards a sustainable ocean-based economy;
• ensure that people, especially children and youth, are empowered with relevant knowledge and skills for decision-making; and
• reduce emissions from international maritime transportation, especially shipping, as soon as possible.
The declaration commits to implementing voluntary commitments made in the context of the Conference and urges appropriate review and follow-up on progress on the voluntary commitments made in 2017. The declaration strongly calls upon the UN Secretary-General to continue efforts to support the implementation of SDG 14 by enhancing inter-agency coordination and coherence throughout the UN system on ocean issues, through the work of UN-Oceans.
Last updated 4 July 2022