On Wednesday, 15 February 2017, the preparatory meeting to ‘The Ocean Conference: Our Oceans, Our Future: Partnering for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development)’ opened with statements by the two co-facilitators for the process. Co-facilitator Àlvaro Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal, said a successful Ocean Conference depends on active contributions from all stakeholders, including ministries, intergovernmental organizations, and UN agencies, while co-facilitator Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore, noted that a plan for successful implementation of SDG 14 should be concrete, action oriented and could be built upon the Paris, Sendai and Addis Ababa agreements.
Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), saluted the momentum reflected by the many registered observers and planned side events for the preparatory meeting, adding that the voluntary commitments will represent “humanity’s best efforts” to implement SDG 14. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Conference, said the Conference “needs to be a conference of solutions and a conference of partnerships” on ocean-related challenges. Stephen Mathias, UN Office of Legal Affairs, called for enhancing the implementation of commitments made within existent legal instruments.
Participants then held a discussion on the proposed themes of the seven partnership dialogues of the Conference. In the afternoon, discussion focused on the elements for the call for action that will result from the Conference.
Closing the day, Gafoor said it had been “the first time we have collectively sat in a room” to share views and expectations on the elements of the call for action. He noted similarity and clustering in the issues being raised from different governments and other stakeholders, and invited participants to build on each other’s comments during Thursday’s discussions. Gafoor said the co-facilitators could “feel the energy and optimism in the room,” and he welcomed the specific, concrete ideas that had been put forward.
IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, provided daily web updates and a summary and analysis report from the Preparatory Meeting for the Ocean Conference, which is available in HTML and PDF.