In a few days, hundreds of government representatives and leaders from academia, the non-profit sector, and industry will gather together in New York for the first UN Conference on the Ocean. The University of California San Diego will be sending a delegation which includes four Scripps Institution of Oceanography graduate students and one graduate student from UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy as part of the Revelle Delegation. We will be attending alongside the Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Margaret Leinen, and other Scripps scientists – noteably, Walter Munk, who has been called the “Einstein of the Oceans”. Here’s what you should know.
The main goal of the UN Oceans conference is to raise awareness of the importance of the ocean to global sustainable development. Sustainable Development Goal 14 is focused on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development and has set 10 targets for successful implementation. As Peter Thompson, the President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, stated, “Human induced problems need to have human induced solutions.” The UN Oceans Conference is the chance to bring together all stakeholders to address deteriorating ocean health and find innovative solutions to marine management. The health of the oceans and the health of our society are fundamentally interconnected. In the same way, SDG14 is fundamentally interconnected with the other sustainable development goals, and the successful implementation of SDG14 is essential for the successful implementation of the other sustainable development goals. The UN Oceans Conference will provide a path forward for successfully implementing SDG14.
The conference is being held from June 5-9 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Some of the noteable elements of the conference include: seven partnership dialogues on key topics, a special event marking World Oceans Day on June 8th, a continuously updated registry of voluntary ocean action commitments, a number of important ocean-focused side-events ranging from implications of declining ocean oxygen levels, ocean acidification action plans, development of the Blue Economy, challenges for addressing illegal and unreported fishing, deep sea science for sustainable development, as well as many others. The conference will conclude with a concise, focused, intergovernmentally-agreed declaration in the form of a “Call for Action” to support the implementation of Goal 14.
This Conference represents a real opportunity for global positive ocean action and international cooperation centered on improving ocean sustainable development. As a graduate student, I feel incredibly honored and excited to attend! My colleagues and I will be sharing our experiences through social media and writing blog posts as we participate in the UN Oceans Conference. Follow along with us!
The seven partnership dialogues are listed below and concept notes for each of these partnership dialogues are available at the provided link. I look forward to attending and observing several of these. Summaries of each of these partnership dialogues will also be prepared and presented at the closing plenary meeting.
Monday 5 June (3-6pm): Addressing marine pollution
Tuesday 6 June (10-1pm): Managing, protecting, conserving, and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems
Tuesday 6 June (3-6pm): Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification
Wednesday 7 June (10-1pm): Making fisheries sustainable
Wednesday 7 June (3-6pm): Increasing economic benefits to SIDS and LDCs and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Thursday 8 June (3-6pm): Increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology
Friday 9 June (10-1pm): Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS
Leading up to and during the Oceans Conference, ocean stakeholders are encouraged to make voluntary commitments for ocean action. There are already 559 voluntary commitments that have been made so far as I’m writing this. Quite encouraging! All voluntary commitments can be viewed here.
Similar to the UNFCCC COPs, side-events are also planned in the margins of the official meetings. The side event schedule can be found here. Scripps representatives attending the conference will be attending and participating in several of these.