The 11th edition of the Monaco Blue Initiative began on Thursday 28 May for the first in a series of workshops that are taking place in a virtual format as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first workshop discussed the ways in which marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective conservation measures can be central to international discussions and act collectively for development.
In his welcome address, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco noted that the COVID-19 crisis has shown the level of vulnerability of societies, noting that that this session provides an opportunity to discuss how to ensure engagement of all stakeholders, including coastal communities, in effective management of MPAs.
Delivering a keynote address, Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, France, noted that COVID-19 has increased recognition of the One Health approach to ensuring the health of people, animals and nature.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, in a pre-recorded keynote address reported on the EU’s commitment to protect 30% of the area covered by oceans by 2030 for biodiversity and to restore carbon sinks.
José María Figueres Olsen, Former President of Costa Rica, Co-founder and Board Chair of Ocean Unite, moderated the panel discussion. Panelists included:
- Serge Segura, Ambassador of France for the Ocean, who underlined opportunities raised by the pandemic to transition to a blue economy;
- Sabine Jessen, Executive Director, 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress Secretariat, Canada, who attributed her country’s success in reaching 30% MPAs to political will and recognition of the role of indigenous knowledge;
- Enric Sala, Pristine Seas project, who advocated for strict protection of oceans, highlighting evidence that they provide four times more benefits to communities than unprotected areas;
- Atsushi Sunami, President, Ocean Policy Research Institute, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, who underscored the role of science in order to achieve 30% protection of marine areas by 2030; and
- Shirley Binder, Ministry of Environment, Panama, who noted the importance of empowering coastal communities on the long-term benefits of MPAs.
This first workshop, many noted, shed a ray of hope that virtual meetings under the current pandemic scenario can contribute significantly as intersessional work. Some participants also highlighted the positive incentive triggered by COVID-19 to restore ocean health.
This first workshop will be followed by two virtual meetings on 9 June and on 24 or 25 June (date to be confirmed) to be held virtually using the following link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/2568040655766321928
These workshops will discuss:
- Lessons learned from community-led initiatives in the management and preservation of protected areas; and
- How to reconcile the blue economy with the sustainable management of oceans in the fields of tourism, transport, energy, fisheries and aquaculture.