Group of 14 leaders commits to building sustainable ocean economy

"We commit ourselves to bold changes towards a sustainable ocean economy, where environmental protection and conservation, economic production and prosperity go hand in hand", assured the government officials.

The high-level panel for a sustainable ocean economy, which includes 14 heads of state and government, including the Portuguese prime minister, pledged to “restore the health” of the ocean and build a sustainable ocean economy.

“We have the opportunity and collective responsibility to protect and restore the health of our ocean and build a sustainable oceanic economy that can provide food, empower coastal communities, supply our cities, transport goods and provide innovative solutions to global challenges”, read if in the document “Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy” of the high level panel, to which Lusa had access.

Government officials argue that, through this commitment, it will be possible to give a boost to the economy, making it resilient in the face of future crises.

In this regard, the 14 heads of state and government urged other governments, industries and other interested parties to join in this objective.

The panel consists of the prime ministers of Portugal, António Costa, from Australia, Scott Morrison, from Frigi, Frank Bainimaram, from Jamaica, Andrew Holness, from Japan, Yoshihide Suga, and from Norway, Erna Solberg.

This group also includes the presidents of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, from Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, from Indonesia, Joko Widodo, from Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, from Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, from Namibia, Hage G. Geingob, and from Palau, Tommy Remengesau.

“The ocean is home to many complex ecosystems that face significant threats. The actions we take now can safeguard the ocean's regenerative capacity [...]. Rapid action must be taken today to tackle climate change, acidification, warming the oceans, marine pollution, overfishing and loss of habitats and biodiversity ”, they stressed.

According to government officials, the covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for joint work to address these global challenges, in addition to increasing financial pressure on developing countries.

“We are committed to bold changes towards a sustainable ocean economy, where environmental protection and conservation, economic production and prosperity go hand in hand”, they assured.

This transformation, as they noted, should cover all sectors, and follow a set of principles, namely, alignment, inclusion, knowledge, legality, precaution, protection, resilience, solidarity and sustainability.

The governors propose to, until 2025, manage the ocean area under national jurisdiction in a totally sustainable way, a path that they hope will be followed by all coastal and ocean states by 2030.

However, in the same document, they noted that “protection, production and prosperity” imply transformations in five areas - wealth, health, equality, knowledge and finances of the ocean.

In terms of ocean health, they set a goal, by 2030, to balance the stocks of wild fish, cultivate sustainable aquaculture and minimize waste.

Priority actions include eliminating illegal fishing and subsidies that contribute to overfishing, minimizing by-catches and adopting scientific plans to ensure fisheries management that responds to climate change and the “uncertainty” of ecosystems .

Additionally, they aspire that, in the next decade, ocean energy will be one of the main sources of energy, that coastal and oceanic tourism will be sustainable and resilient, that investments in marine transport will accelerate the transition to low-impact, zero-emission vessels and that marine mining activities on the seabed are scientifically informed and ecologically sustainable.

In turn, with regard to the health of the ocean, the government wants that, during the period in question, the objectives of the Paris Agreement are achieved, that the marine and coastal ecosystems are “healthy, resilient and productive”, besides pointing out reduction of ocean pollution.

In this context, the panel defined as a priority to encourage the use of alternatives to plastics and the 'design' of sustainable products, apply rules on waste transfers and illegal exports and promote agriculture that minimizes the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

For the equality of the ocean, for the next decade, equitable access to resources and a “fair” distribution of benefits were envisaged, through “sustainable and transparent” commercial practices, conditions that facilitate the involvement of women in oceanic activities and inclusive governance that ensures the interests of local communities.

“It is important for people to understand the meaning and influence of the ocean on their well-being […]. People must be able to acquire knowledge and the necessary skills to participate and benefit from the opportunities of the ocean ”, they pointed out, defining as a priority the availability of knowledge about oceans to everyone and the investment in literacy and awareness about the ocean.

Incentives for the use of innovations and technologies for data collection, research, monitoring, inspection and decision-making, training in marine sciences and the digitization of information about the oceans are some of the activities defined as priorities in this area.

Finally, with regard to the financial area, high-level panel members defined the urgent need for direct public sector financing for investments in the sustainable ocean economy, supporting the use of sustainable financing and reducing investment risk by combining public financing. and private with innovative “insurance products”.

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