NABU participated as a stakeholder in the February 15, 2017 Preparatory Meeting for the Oceans Conference held at the United Nations in New York City. The meeting was convened by Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly, and was chaired by H.E. Mr. Alvaro Mendonya Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the UN, and H.E. Mr. Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the UN. The primary purpose of this preparatory meeting and another once that occurred on February 16th, was to collect input from all stakeholders in order to prepare a draft a “Call for Action” no later than March 2017
In his opening remarks, the General Assembly President noted that the oceans are being faced with three threats – pollution, over-fishing and global warming – and that even though these all are human-induced problems, each human-induced problem can have a human-induced solution. Participants were urged to focus on the need for ‘calls to action’ to address those threats. Those participants who could also were encouraged to register for voluntary commitments via a registry that was opening the afternoon of February 15th. Those voluntary commitments were to be action-oriented, grounded in science and backed by finance and technology.
The discussion session that followed centered on the seven major themes of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water):
- Addressing marine pollution;
- Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems;
- Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification;
- Making fisheries sustainable;
- Increasing economic benefits to SIDS (small island developing states) and LDCs (less developed countries) 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;
- Implementing international law, as reflected in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea).
At least 50 representatives from nations, organizations, NGOs and other interest groups spoke and of the common themes that were addressed were the need to take urgent action, the need to consider the plight of peoples most closely affected by threats to the oceans (those in SIDS or LDCs whose economies are dependent on ocean resources), and the acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of the 7 themes.
NABU Representative John Dilyard recommended two action-oriented ideas:
- Use technology to collect, monitor and share data on the extent to which the ocean-borne transport of goods used in global supply chains contributes to pollution, both in ports and in the seaways used for ocean transport so that develop strategies to mitigate this pollution could be developed.
- Use technology to collect, monitor and share data on the extent to which the use of oceans and seas for tourism also contributes to pollution, again so that strategies could be developed to mitigate that pollution.