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The Ocean Conference

Our Oceans, Our Future: Partnering for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14

5-9 June 2017 | UN Headquarters, New York

Highlights for Friday, 9 June 2017

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Room view during the plenary

A band from Fiji closed the meeting with a traditional song

On Friday morning, a partnership dialogue focused on enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Participants highlighted the key role of effective implementation of UNCLOS in achieving SDG 14; and challenges regarding universal participation, and uneven and ineffective implementation and enforcement.

Plenary continued with the general debate; heard reports from the partnership dialogues; and adopted the conference report and the Call for Action as agreed during the intergovernmental consultations. The US: noted it did not support reference to technology transfer, reaffirming that strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights provides the incentives needed to foster innovation; disassociated itself from the call to accelerate work to complete World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on fisheries subsidies with special and differential treatment for developing countries and LDCs, explaining that WTO independence must be respected; and reiterated the recent announcement of his country's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. France welcomed the support for the Paris Agreement indicated by its ratification by a majority of the world. The Russian Federation distanced itself from language on WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies, highlighting the complexity and sensitive nature of the topic and the need to address it under the WTO. Egypt registered its reservation on language implying that invasive alien species (IAS) are due solely to human activities, noting it is factually incorrect as there are other causes, including climate change. The EU emphasized the universal and unified character of UNCLOS as the legal framework for all ocean-related activities.

General Assembly President Peter Thomson, Fiji, affirmed that the conference: generated broad momentum for implementing all the SDGs; showed that ocean and climate health are “two sides of the same coin”; spurred WTO negotiators to address harmful subsidies; and emphasized the role of small-scale fisheries in sustainable blue economy. Co-President Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, Fiji, noted that voluntary commitments doubled during the week counting: 44% of commitments from governments, 19% from NGOs, 9% from the UN and 9% from the private sector; with the highest number of commitments in the North Atlantic and South Pacific, relating to marine ecosystems, pollution and science. Co-President Isabella Lövin, Sweden, congratulated delegates, in particular Fiji, for placing the ocean at the center of the political agenda as a matter of human survival, in light of the combined pressures of marine litter, ocean acidification and overfishing. She welcomed Kenya and Portugal’s offers to host the next conference in 2020, and called for a “strong home for the ocean at the UN” and leadership by the UN Secretary-General to drive SDG 14 forward. She officially gaveled the conference to a close at 5:44 pm, following which, delegates participated in a cultural ceremony to close the conference.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, has provided daily reports and daily web coverage, and has provided a summary and analysis report in HTML and PDF.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis
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Plenary Session

Luis Gilberto Murillo, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Union

View of the dais during the plenary session

Agostinho Mondlane, Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Mozambique

President Tommy Esang Remengesau, Palau

Necton Mhura, Permanent Representative to the UN, Malawi

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)

Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative to the UN, Estonia

Thorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Iceland

Oumar Guèye, Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy, Senegal

Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Fiji

Arthur Andambi, Rapporteur, Kenya

Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden, gaveling the meeting to a close.

Partnership dialogue 7: Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Australia

Florence Galletti, Director of Research, Law of the Sea and Environmental Law, French National Research Institute for Development (IRD)

Biliana Cicin-Sain, President, Global Ocean Forum

Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Tuvalu

Anastasia Strati, Greece

Pablo Arrocha Olabuenaga, Mexico

Pennelope Althea Beckles, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Trinidad and Tobago

Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel

Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chile

Judy Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Regional Development Authorities, Kenya

Hernâni Coelho, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Timor Leste

Thorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Iceland

Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Barbados

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Union

Michael Lodge, Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority

Nohora Galvis, Director, Observatorio Pro Arrecifes, Colombia

Charlotte Salpin, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS), with Elisa Morgera, IISD Reporting Services

Participants networking

Around the Venue


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IISD Reporting Services is grateful to the many donors of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) and recognizes the following as core contributors to the ENB: the European Union and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2017 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Switzerland (FOEN), and SWAN International. Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD).