On Monday, participants to the Marine Regions Forum met in an opening plenary aiming to: highlight priority issues that need to be addressed to restore ocean health; emphasize opportunities to accelerate transformative change; and demonstrate how marine regions can enable cooperation across territorial and sectoral boundaries. Moderator Alexander Müller, Managing Director, Think Tank for Sustainability (TMG), stressed that marine regions are key to address the interconnected challenges of ocean sustainability and explained how focus on a regional approach can support implementation of SDG 14 and other ocean-related SDGs. Klaus Töpfer, Founding Director, TMG, highlighted the role of new generations and stressed the need to break silos and integrate science and policy in ocean governance. Regina Dube, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Germany, drew attention to Germany’s experience in cooperation with regional seas conventions, and called for a strong role for regional cooperation under a global body for the governance of the high seas. In a video message, Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission, stressed that regional ocean governance provides the link between national rights and responsibilities and international objectives and duties, adding that the Marine Regions Forum closes a critical gap in ocean governance. Inger Andersen, UN Environment (UNEP) Executive Director, stressed that, to protect oceans, the international community needs to: ensure entry into effect of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; promote sustainable fisheries, including through ending subsidies at the negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO); address pollution beyond plastics, and invest in circular economy; and restore coastal ecosystems. Antje Boetius, Director, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, cautioned against overly reducing complexity, noting the risk of disregarding important interlinkages between ocean-related issues. David Obura, Director, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO), highlighted significant regional variations, not only in terms of environmental impacts but also regarding means of implementation. In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, among other issues: expectations regarding the negotiations on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ); how local actors can support regional governance; the possible benefits of setting short-term goals; consequences of deep-sea mining; and the role of marine biodiversity in tackling climate change. Sébastien Treyer, Executive Director, Institute for Sustainable Development and International relations (IDDRI), and Patrizia Nanz, Scientific Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), noted the Forum’s goals, including: providing a space for exchange of experiences between regions and stakeholders; promoting new developments within marine regions; and forwarding the conclusions to key global processes, including the BBNJ negotiations, the 2020 UN Conference on SDG 14, the negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, as well as relevant regional processes. In the afternoon, participants met in dialogue sessions under three themes:
On achieving SDG 14, a session on putting plans into action focused on implementation of marine litter action plans. Participants shared lessons learned, aiming to understand regional challenges and achievements and discussed new solutions at the regional and global scale. On underpinning global processes, a session on areas beyond national jurisdiction discussed the contribution of existing regional instruments, aiming to develop concrete proposals for strengthening the role of regional approaches for the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ under a strong global agreement. Two additional sessions discussed: the key findings from the special report on the ocean and cryosphere of the Intergovernmenal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); and policy and economic challenges created by fisheries on the move. On knowledge for ocean action, a session on building regional science-policy interfaces aimed at introducing and reflecting upon the mechanisms behind existing interfaces. In the evening, a reception that included an artistic intervention with school children, took place at the venue.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis
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