UNCTAD/FAO/UN Environment joint voluntary commitment: The Ocean Conference 2017

​Sustainable Trade in Fisheries - Assisting Member States to Implement Effective, Inclusive and Sustainable Policies


Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 Agenda commits UN Member States “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” Under this Goal, three targets explicitly focus on the trade-related aspects of fisheries: Target 4 (fight against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, fish stocks management and restoration), Target 6 (phasing out certain fisheries subsidies) and Target b (access to markets and resources by small scale and artisanal fishermen).

These SDG 14 targets represent a comprehensive avenue for addressing unsustainable practices in the fisheries sector. Among the targets, the issue of addressing and removing harmful fisheries subsidies has been a complicated and thorny one. For the majority of fisheries subsidies, there is a strong correlation with overcapacity and overfishing. Addressing harmful fisheries subsidies is not a stand-alone issue and a holistic approach is necessary in order to advance sustainability and development. The "Call for Action" of the UN Ocean Conference sets a new direction in the implementation of SDG 14, incorporating new voluntary commitments and allowing for the development of new multistakeholder partnerships.

UNCTAD, FAO, and UN Environment have a key role to play in the implementation of these trade-related targets. Through the Joint Statement made during the 14th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, titled “Regulating Fisheries Subsidies must be an integral part of the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda."

Trade and trade-policies can facilitate the transition to sustainable ocean-based economies by increasing resource efficiency, improving the environment, enhancing inclusiveness and creating new green business opportunities. In the context of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other relevant international instruments, UNCTAD, FAO and UN Environment stand ready to work with countries and donors to provide capacity building and technical assistance on fisheries, trade, environment and development. The convening power and expertise of the three agencies provide a unique differential in supporting countries to progress towards sustainable development, by incorporating more sustainable trade policies, and to deliver upon the aforementioned targets.


By facilitating a comprehensive understanding of the trade-related aspects of SDG 14, this joint effort aims to improve countries’ capacity to shift towards more resource efficient and sustainable pathways. It will support countries to better position themselves within relevant trade negotiations and to undertake internal policy and regulatory reform aligned with SDG 14 targets.



 Meetings and Events






SDG 14
16 July 2018Oceans Forum seeks consensus on fish-to-dish solutions
13 July 201890% of fish stocks are used up – fisheries subsidies must stop
29 September 2017Time is running out to find a solution to overfishing, UNCTAD warns
SDG 14
06 June 2017UNCTAD joins the growing number of voluntary commitments on ocean action

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UNCTAD: David Vivas Eugui, David.Vivaseugui@unctad.org

FAO: Marcio Castro De Souza, Marcio.Castrodesouza@fao.org

UN Environment: Anja von Moltke, Anja.Moltke@unep.org




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