The Ocean Conference is set for June 5-9, 2017, where the whole of the United Nations will be turned over to addressing conservation practices, health restoration efforts and sustainable use of our shared ocean. The framework for The Ocean Conference, to be held at UN Headquarters in New York City, is Sustainable Development Goal 14, which focuses on human solutions to address and take action on the degradation of life below water.


General Assembly President Peter Thomson said the goal of The Ocean Conference will have three components:

  1. An intergovernmentally agreed declaration, or ‘Call for Action;
  2. A report with the Co-Chairs’ summaries of the seven partnership dialogues; and
  3. A list of voluntary commitments from all stakeholders.

Thomson underscored the importance of SDG #14 and the upcoming Ocean Conference, stating the ocean is in deep trouble: I won’t go into all the woes that humanity has put upon (the ocean) but the good news is we are working on solutions to those woes.”

The Ocean Conference Call To Action

The Call to Action is being negotiated between Member States. Some specific highlights include:

  • accelerating the development of systems for full traceability of fish products
  • stepping up financial support from financial institutions and donor community to strengthen fragile ocean-based economies in SIDS and LDC’s (see below).
  • strengthen the use of marine protected areas
  • develop consumption and production strategies to phase out plastic bags, single use plastics and the use of primary microplastic particles in products
  • development of an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to protect the High Seas, the least protected area of our Ocean.


7 Key Dialogues

The Ocean Conference programme revolves around 7 main partnership dialogues that dive deep into SDG #14 and include: marine pollution; marine and coastal ecosystems, ocean acidification, sustainable fisheries, economic benefit transfer to small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDC) including artisanal fisheries, scientific knowledge, and international law of the sea. Each dialogue will produce a report summary after the conference.


Making a Commitment

Voluntary commitments aren’t just for governments and UN representatives: All stakeholders who care about the plight of the ocean are invited to register their commitments at The Ocean Conference website. The guideline for registering voluntary commitments  states that financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations, academic and research institutions, the scientific community, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and others  – individually or in partnership – that aim to contribute to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 can register voluntary commitments.


What You can do to Support The Ocean Conference and SDG #14:

  1. Read Life Below Water – Why it matters.
  2. Spread the word about SDG #14 using hashtag #saveoursea;
  3. Take action with The Ocean Conference and SDG #14: Register your own voluntary commitment.  
  4. Join the World Ocean Festival on June 4 to kick off The Ocean Conference: It’s happening in NYC and cities around the globe;
  5. Share the short We the People video about the Sustainable Development Goals and this brief Life Below Water video with your friends and family;
  6. Get your company involved in the Sustainable Development Goals with this SDG Employer Hub; and SG#14 Toolkit;
  7. Look at your lifestyle: Choose only sustainable seafood, use reusable shopping bags, support renewable energy;  Here are more ideas to take action.


Go Deeper into SDG #14

In September 2015, the UN established a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) covering a broad range of global issues with an overarching sustainable development agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity:  The 17 global sustainable development goals have specific targets (for a total of 169 targets) to be achieved over the next 15 years. The Ocean Conference is the first high-level event to focus on the implementation of one specific Sustainable Development Goal:  SDG #14 is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources and contains ten targets:

  1. By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution;
  2. By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans;
  3. Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels;
  4.  By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics;
  5. By 2020, conservation of at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information;
  6. By 2020, prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;
  7. By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism;
  8. Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries;
  9. Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets;
  10. Implement international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resourcess.

Learn more here about the Sustainable Development Goals and Outcomes.


Plus see these related Blue Ocean Post on United Nations Initiatives:

First World Ocean Festival Comes To NYC
What You Can Do to Stop Ocean Plastic Debris
First-Ever World Tuna Day – May 2, 2017
UN Environment Declares War on Ocean Plastic
Sustainable Fishing: Decline in fish stocks propel new models for ocean management.
The Year the World Focused on Climate Change
Reef-Dependent Caribbean Economies in Peril as Coral Declines


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