UNCTAD joins the growing number of voluntary commitments on ocean action

06 June 2017

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) announced their voluntary commitment at the Oceans Conference in New York to assist member states in the implementation of effective, inclusive policies for Sustainable Trade in fisheries.

"We must continue what was started at the UNCTAD 14 Conference with the adoption of the UNCTAD-FAO-UNEP Road Map to End Harmful Fishing Subsidies", said Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary General.

A growing number of countries, businesses and civil society groups are stepping forward with new commitments to improve the health of the world's oceans in advance of The Ocean Conference that will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 5-9 June.

"For too long, we have taken the Ocean for granted, without understanding the vital role it plays in our lives," said the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson. "The voluntary commitments being made through the website of The Ocean Conference, from countries large and small, from agencies and civil society, register the good action being taken to restore and preserve the Ocean's health."

There are more than 895 voluntary commitments that will support the implementation of SDG14 have been made at the Voluntary Commitments registry of the Ocean Conference.

The leading entity type for submission of voluntary commitments is non-governmental organizations, with 26, followed by governments, with 15, and intergovernmental organizations and partnerships, each with 7.

The majority of voluntary commitments are global in nature-there are 45 so far, while the ocean basins with the most voluntary commitments are the South Pacific (21), the North Atlantic (20), and the North Pacific (17). Only two commitments (each) have been made that impact the Arctic and Southern Oceans. Of the 10 SDG14 targets, support for the sustainable management of marine ecosystems have garnered the most commitments, with 42, followed by marine pollution reduction with 36, and scientific knowledge, research capacity and technology transfer, with 34.

The three UN agencies committed to support negotiations and the implementation of SDG 14.6 under the following lines of action:

  • Deepen the dialogue and research pillar on trade-related aspects of SDG 14 in the form of an annual Oceans Forum until 2020 accompanied briefings in Geneva, Rome and Nairobi. The dialogue pillar will be supported with specific research on options to implement SDG 14 at all levels as consensus approaches.

  • Provide joint advice to Member States on technical issues until 14.6 is complied with. This will promote coherence in the advice to be provided and hopefully in any potential multilateral outcome.

  • Provide technical support on demand driven basis to countries or regions willing to undertake internal subsidies reform within existing programmes under UNCTAD (Oceans Economy and Trade Strategies), FAO (Blue Growth) and UNEP (Green economy in the Blue). Alignment of the work of the 3 agencies on oceans/blue economy will be definitely needed and welcomed by Member States.

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Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly