Summary report, 26–28 November 2018

Sustainable Blue Economy Conference

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference was held from 26-28 November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. Under the theme “The Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the conference gathered over 18,000 participants from 184 countries, including seven Heads of State and Government, 84 Ministers, and leaders from a wide range of sectors, including different levels of governments, science and academia, the scientific and research community, UN and other intergovernmental organizations, international organizations, business and private sector entities, non-governmental and civil society organizations, and ordinary citizens.

Throughout the three days of the conference, participants actively engaged in panel and other discussions focused on how to achieve the sustainable use and conservation of aquatic resources, including oceans, seas, lakes and rivers, for improved human wellbeing, social equity and healthy aquatic ecosystems. The discussions centred on the following nine key themes:

  • smart shipping, ports, transportation and global connectivity;
  • employment, job creation and poverty eradication;
  • cities, tourism, resilient coasts and infrastructure;
  • sustainable energy, mineral resources and innovative industries;
  • managing and sustaining marine life, conservation and sustainable economic activities;
  • ending hunger, securing food supplies and promoting good health and sustainable fisheries;
  • climate action, agriculture waste management and pollution-free oceans; maritime security, safety and regulatory enforcement; and
  • people, culture, communities and societies – the inclusive blue economy.

During the multiple conference sessions and forums, representatives from governments, intergovernmental and international organizations, the private sector and civil society made hundreds of commitments to advance a sustainable Blue Economy in their respective countries and around the world, including 62 concrete commitments in the fields of marine protection, plastics and waste management, maritime safety and security, fisheries development, financing, infrastructure, biodiversity and climate change, technical assistance and capacity-building, private sector support, and partnerships.

In addition to those commitments, participants reflected on the critical threats and challenges facing the world’s oceans, seas, rivers and lakes and on the pressing need to preserve those Blue Economy resources in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and they exchanged valuable ideas and experiences on how to address such threats and challenges in order to harness the economic opportunities provided by Blue Economy resources while ensuring their sustainable use and management. A the end of the conference, it was clear that the take-away messages of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference would have a lasting impact on how governments and other stakeholders view the Blue Economy in Africa and beyond. The messages conveyed the clear message that the Blue Economy must be sustainable, the planet’s ocean and water resources must be conserved and sustainably used, and need to consider oceans, lakes and rivers, as well as water- and land-based ecosystems, in a holistic manner. The messages were captured in the Nairobi Statement of Intent on Advancing the Global Sustainable Blue Economy.

This report provides a brief summary of the conference, focusing on the Leaders’ Commitment Segment, a number of selected side events on some of the key themes of the conference, and one of each of the Signature Thematic Sessions, the Business and Private Sector Forum and the Governors and Mayors Convention.

A Brief History of the Blue Economy

The UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015 saw the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). In paragraph 33 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States recognize that “social and economic development depends on the sustainable management of our planet’s natural resources” and determine to “conserve and sustainably use oceans and seas, freshwater resources, as well as forests, mountains and dry-lands and to protect biodiversity, ecosystems and wildlife.”

Milestone events that accelerated the movement towards the first-ever global conference on a Blue Economy, include the following meetings.

The Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth took place from 22-25 April 2014, in The Hague, The Netherlands. For the first time, global leaders, ocean practitioners, scientists, and representatives from governments, business, civil society and international organizations convened to explore action-oriented partnerships, governance arrangements, investment frameworks and new financing vehicles to address the health of oceans. The Summit identified steps towards critical internationally agreed targets for fisheries, aquaculture, habitat protection and pollution reduction.

The high-level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14: (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) was convened at the UN Headquarters in New York from 5-9 June 2017, coinciding with World Oceans Day, to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. The Conference raised global consciousness on ocean issues and produced strong ambitious outcomes. The political declaration “Our ocean, our future: call for action” was adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017 through resolution A/71/312. The resolution recognizes the oceans “as an engine for sustainable economic development and growth” and calls upon all stakeholders to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development by taking, inter alia, actions to support the promotion and strengthening of sustainable ocean-based economies.

The third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) met from 4-6 December 2017, in Nairobi, Kenya. The Assembly adopted 11 resolutions and adopted, by consensus, a negotiated Ministerial Declaration, through which they agreed to address the pollution of air, land and soil, freshwater, and oceans. The resolutions called for accelerated action and strengthened partnerships to, inter alia, combat the spread of marine plastic litter and microplastics and address water pollution.

The High-Level Scientific Conference ‘From COP21 towards the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)’ took place from 10-11 September 2018 in Paris, France, at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The two-day conference synthesized recent scientific progress on ocean and climate interplays, evaluated the latest ocean-climate trends within the context of increased ocean action, and reflected on ways to move “from science to action” during the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference Report

Opening and Leaders’ Commitments Segment

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference opened on 26 November with the Leaders’ Commitments segment, interspersed with videos on the themes of the nine Signature Thematic Sessions.

In her opening remarks, Monica Juma, Cabinet Secretary, Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that oceans, seas, lakes and rivers held natural capital that could be used to accelerate economic growth, while creating employment and reducing poverty. She highlighted the aim of the conference as identifying priorities, opportunities and challenges that would result in a Nairobi Statement of Intent, and invited commitments from different sectors to advance a Blue Economy.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said that the conference would explore how to build a sustainable Blue Economy that left no-one behind and that achieving a Blue Economy would require reliance on innovation, science and best practices, and a collaborative approach to enhance decision making.

Keriako Tobiko, Cabinet Secretary, Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said that economic development could not come at the expense of the environment, and that population growth would require innovative solutions to meet human needs. He stressed that the conference would provide a unique opportunity to discuss how blue resources could sustainably boost economic growth, create employment and tackle poverty.

In a dialogue on the global situation of the Blue Economy, Pavan Sukhdev, President, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International, and Justin Mundy, World Resources Institute (WRI), reflected on the pillars of a Blue Economy, namely: productivity through accelerated economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation; and sustainability through addressing climate change, controlling pollution, managing waste, and sustaining marine life.

The Leaders’ Commitments segment was introduced by Cabinet Secretary Juma on Monday, 26 November, when statements were read by representatives from governments, intergovernmental and international organizations, the private sector and civil society throughout the day. The Leaders’ Commitments segment continued on Wednesday, 28 November.

Highlights from these commitments include the following:

Marine Protection                                 

  • Implement a CAD$1.5 billion ocean protection plan project to enhance maritime safety and address protection of marine biodiversity (Canada);
  • Protect 10% marine and coastal areas by 2020 (Canada);
  • Restore mangrove forest to 5000ha by 2023 (Mozambique);
  • Support conversion of 30% of oceans into marine protected area by 2030 under its ‘30-by-30 strategy’ (UK);
  • Allocate US$5 million for marine protection and research (Namibia);
  • Increase marine protected areas (MPAs) by 11 million hectares to over 10% (Bahamas);
  • Designate 30% of exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as an MPA by 2030 (Tonga);
  • Contribute €40 Million to protect corals and reefs and €60 million for protection of MPAs in African countries (EU); and
  • Contribute US$1.5 million to build resilience to ocean acidification through technology innovation to protect shellfish and other aquaculture farms (Ocean Foundation).

Plastics and Waste Management

  • Allocate US$100 million for improved ocean’s management and against dumping (Norway and World Bank);
  • Commits US$200 million for the next four years for development of initiatives to combat marine litter and microplastics (Norway);
  • Total ban on plastic utensils and polystyrene to come into effect in 2019 (Antigua & Barbuda);
  • Ban single-use plastic bags, straws and cans by 2020 (Bahamas);
  • Implement national zero-plastic pollution campaign (Timor Leste);
  • Commit to sustainable plastic-free tourism (Autonomous Region of Sao Tome and Principe);
  • Commit to plastic-free services in all its establishments (Java House Africa); and
  • Confront the challenge of waste management and plastic pollution (Kenya).

Maritime Safety and Security

  • In 2018, enhance maritime surveillance and fishery protection by completing a €250 million naval vessel replacement programme and purchasing two marine patrol aircraft (Ireland);
  • In 2019/2010 contribute €32 million for three Pilatus 12 aircraft to enhance patrolling capability (Ireland);
  • Increase investment by €1.5 million to upgrade Naval Service ICT systems to support fishery protection regime in Ireland (Ireland);
  • Aggressively combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, and enhance maritime security and safety (Kenya)

Fisheries Development

  • Construction of hatchery to produce 10,000 MT, to become sub-Sahara Africa’s largest tilapia hatchery in 2019 (Victory Farms Limited East Africa);
  • Set aside €40 Million to support aquaculture value chains in African countries (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, EU)


  • Establish Trust Fund with the World Bank (PROBLUE) to help manage marine litter in developing countries (World Bank);
  • Mobilize nearly €44 billion of investment by 2020, including for the blue economy (EU - External Investment Plan);
  • Contribute US$33.3 Million into PROBLUE to support transition into blue economy and realization of SDG 14 (Sweden, through Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency);
  • Issue the first Sovereign Blue Bond to the magnitude of US$15 million (Seychelles, in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), World Bank and Prince of Wales Trust);
  • Introduce Debt-Swap for conservation - US$21.6 million (Seychelles, in collaboration with the Paris Club);
  • Establish a Blue Economy Bank to support the growth and development of the Blue Economy (Kenya)
  • Commit €10 million to develop water financing facilities through the Global Lab to unlock finance for low-carbon climate-resilient development (Netherlands); and
  • Support debt-free financing through Blue carbon bonds and other means of debt swaps (Nature Conservancy).


  • Invest US$120 billion to revolutionize 600 maritime logistics and port-led development projects in India (India- Sagarmala Programme);
  • Promote blue value chain, incorporating fisheries and tourism sectors (Namibia);
  • Commit to desalinate sea water for agriculture, domestic and industrial use (Namibia); and
  • Take measures to revive Kenya’s maritime transport and partnering with global shipping lines (Kenya).

Biodiversity and Climate Change

  • Commit CAD$10 million Pacific Initiative for Biodiversity, Climate Change and Resilience (Canada, with EU, New Zealand and Australia); and
  • Protect fragile areas from climate change and unsustainable fishing poachers (Timor Leste).

Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

  • Contribute CAD$20 million in increased technical assistance and capacity development to Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) (Canada);
  • Help African countries in capacity building in exploitation of deep seas exploitation (African Union (AU));
  • Establish an African Blue Economy Innovation and Research Centre, and the University of Nairobi Institute for Blue Economy and Ocean Studies (Kenya)

Private Sector Support

  • Pledge CAD$153 million by the Government of Canada and private sector in an Ocean Supercluster to help build a knowledge-based ocean economy (Canada)
  • Invest in renewable energy in Africa including generation of energy from waste in Mombasa (Toyota Tshusho, Japan)

The list of commitments made by governments and organizations are found in the Annex.

Ending Hunger, Securing Food Supplies and Promoting Good Health and Sustainable Fisheries

This signature session was held on Tuesday, 27 November 2018, to discuss how to achieve food and nutrition security in a blue economy, in particular through sustainable fisheries, in order to meet the challenge of feeding a population of 9 billion by 2050. It featured a panel consisting of Japhet Ntiba Micheni, State Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy, Kenya; Pakjuta Khemakorn, Department of Fisheries, Thailand; and Catherine Blewett, Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Deputy Minister Blewett described Canada’s efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries for improved domestic food security through a science- and risk-based approach premised on the precautionary principle; its work in helping countries and poor and vulnerable communities to improve food security by promoting gender equality; and its commitment to achieving SDG 14.

Blewett and the other panelists highlighted among key issues:

  • the key role of fish and seafood, as high-quality sources of protein, in ensuring food security and nutrition;
  • the need to recognize the common objectives and links between the blue and green economies;
  • promoting gender equality and fair access to resources in food production could help to reduce chronic hunger in children and families and enhance the resilience and sustainability of food production;
  • ending IUU fishing, a serious global problem with an annual estimated cost ranging between US$10 and US$23 billion, was a pre-requisite of sustainable fisheries;
  • achieving sustainable fisheries would require dealing with abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear, which made up over half of marine litter and some of the most harmful debris, causing a decrease in fish stocks and affecting the livelihoods of fish-reliant communities;
  • the need to tackle marine plastic litter at source, including through waste prevention strategies;
  • stakeholder engagement, transparency and science-based approaches were critical to ensure sustainable fisheries and optimal decision-making; and
  • the need for a Blue Economy bank to support private sector investments in sustainable fisheries and partnerships with regional and international partners should be created to support the Blue Economy in Africa.

Business and Private Sector Forum – Leaders’ Remarks

During this forum, that convened on Tuesday, 27 November, and which focused on investing in the Blue Economy, including in tourism, maritime transport, aquaculture and renewable energy, participants discussed options for innovative financing for the Blue Economy, such as “green bonds,” and how to build sustainable economic growth.

In a special segment for heads of states’ remarks, Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury and Planning, Kenya, emphasized the importance of the private and business sectors to unlock opportunities for employment and improve prospective investment initiatives in the blue economy sectors.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya, noting that the substantial presence of the business and private sector at the conference signaled a growing interest in investing in a sustainable Blue Economy, pledged that his government would create a fertile business environment and invited the private sector to engage in partnerships to expand the present US$1.4 billion portfolio to stimulate the Blue Economy.

Wallace Cosgrow, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Seychelles, outlining successful Blue Economy activities implemented in his country, said the Blue Economy “is about the prosperity of the people.”

Danny Faure, President of Seychelles, urged balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability, stressing that the Blue Economy offered an alternative model for sustainable exploitation of the ocean for shared prosperity, food security and healthy oceans.

 Bernhardt Martin Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Namibia, expressed delight that after years of neglect, the vast untapped coastal and inland water resources of Africa were at last receiving attention, stressing that establishing a successful and truly sustainable Blue Economy would require policy innovation to ensure it is sustainable and not harmful.

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister of Namibia, elaborating on her country’s fisheries and marine mining sectors, pledged to support investors interested in financing the Blue Economy through strong consultative governmental mechanisms, multi-stakeholder dialogues, and anti-corruption measures.

Governors and Mayors Convention: Welcoming Remarks and Leaders’ Commitments

On Tuesday, 27 November, during the Governors and Mayors Convention, Governor Mike Sonko, Governor of Nairobi, stressed the importance of ensuring water transport safety and building resilience to climate change, and the oceans’ significance to agriculture, tourism and other industries.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson, AUC, stressed challenges to promoting a Blue Economy, including rising sea levels, pollution and a lack of basic services and urged a special focus on setting up local and national plans for better management of cities to stimulate a Blue Economy.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, pointed out the importance of setting up resilience plans at different scales; ensuring consideration of the value of natural capital in cities, infrastructure planning so as to integrate cities into surrounding nature; and considering water, from the highlands down to rivers and into the ocean, as one holistic ecosystem. She also lauded Kenya’s clean-up actions along coastal areas and encouraged implemention of the “three R’s”: to reduce garbage while promoting recycling and reuse.

In a keynote address on ‘Cities and urban spaces in the world: the future of cities and the blue economy,’ President Kenyatta identified improving communities’ resilience, planning cities with better green space, sound pollution and waste management systems and energy efficient transport systems as key for shifting towards a more sustainable urbanization process.

Danny Faure, President of Seychelles, said that his country would work with the AU to develop the Blue Economy by sharing experiences to guide SIDS towards a sustainable future.

Women of the Blue Economy: Lessons from the Field for Better Equity and Participation

This event was held on Monday, 26 November 2018, and featured a panel of expert fisherwomen, researchers, policymakers, international organizations, and government and civil society organizations directly supporting women on the ground. The event opened with a short video presenting stories of women in the fisheries sector in Kenya and Somalia and the challenges they faced, including cultural taboos, unequal access to economic opportunities and climate change. An interactive conversation followed among the panelists on gender transformative processes and opportunities in the Blue Economy in Africa.

Reflecting on how to address visible and invisible barriers for women in the fisheries sector and in the wider Blue Economy, including a lack of access to technology, financial services and profitable markets, and discriminatory social norms that prevented women’s participation in certain areas of the Blue Economy, the panelists said that it was important:

  • for women to organize in groups or networks around common agendas in order to engage in sectors that marginalized them and obtain access to resources such as training, education and basic services and facilities;
  • to create partnerships between financial institutions and non-governmental organizations to support women associations and women working in the Blue Economy to access financial resources;
  • to learn from best financial practices;
  • to better inform women about funding opportunities;
  • to address technological barriers and social norm barriers at the same time, including by engaging men in efforts to empower women and achieve gender equality;
  • to adopt a human-rights based, inter-disciplinary approach to the Blue Economy to ensure it was inclusive, environmentally sustainable and just, and supporting coalitions that held that vision of the Blue Economy;
  • Provide transformative funding to empower women in the Blue Economy; and
  • Define the Blue Economy not as a for-profit making enterprise, but as a sector that would sustain livelihoods and promote gender equality.

Value the Oceans: Enhancing Coastal Marine Ecosystem Service Mapping, Assessments and Valuation for Sustainable Blue Economy Policies and Actions

This side event was held on Tuesday, 27 November 2018, to discuss how to achieve a Blue Economy by measuring the value of ocean ecosystems. The event featured two panels with panelists from UN agencies, governments, NGOs and research organizations who raised the following key issues:

  • the Blue Economy should aim to advance SDG 14, which would help advance many other Goals, including those related to food security, economic development and decent jobs, poverty eradication, climate and gender equality;
  • Blue Economy policies must recognize natural capital values, planetary boundaries and the global biodiversity and climate crises;
  • putting an economic value on all the benefits of oceans is extremely difficult, despite existing tools that value some of those benefits to inform planning and policymaking;
  • ecosystem service valuation could provide useful metrics for integrated coastal and oceans planning;
  • obtaining sound ocean data is critical for sustainable Blue Economy policymaking, as is addressing information gaps and agreeing on common methodologies and tools for ocean valuation;
  • to measure the extent, condition, services and beneficiaries of ocean ecosystems in biophysical, non-monetary terms is the first step to valuing oceans;
  • in developing a truly sustainable Blue Economy, thought should be given to “ecologizing the economy”, rather than “economizing nature”, and to using a different economic model rather than injecting innovation into the traditional, national-product-based economic model;
  • a circular Blue Economy approach is needed to tackle ocean pollution, since most plastic and other marine pollutants come from land-based sources;
  • taxes and legislation approaches to combat plastic marine pollution by preventing, substituting and recycling plastics need to be scaled up through international cooperation platforms such as the Blue Economy Initiative announced by UNEP;
  • blended finance approaches could help to finance a sustainable Blue Economy;
  • Blue Economy investments should move away from obsolete infrastructure and technologies and finance innovation and socially-just, environmentally-sustainable projects; and
  • economic activities such as seabed mining present risks because ocean currents carry debris around the world.

Building the Global Momentum on Marine/Aquatic Plastics Litter

This side event took place on Tuesday, 27 November and focused on the themes of adopting a global perspective on plastics, and implementing and calling for actions on plastics.

Panelists from diverse sectors, including UN agencies, governments, the retail and manufacturing industries, NGOs and civil society, called on governments to develop robust regulations to change social behavior. Discussions also focused on:

  • methodologies and scientific analyses of plastic sources;
  • recycling initiatives;
  • engaging communities and the private sector to act as catalysts of circular economy;
  • creating incentives or subsidies to promote recycling and waste collection systems;
  • regional cooperation and partnerships;
  • promoting school education to raise public awareness on plastic waste;
  • technology innovation; and
  • individual’s successful attempts to push forward desired policies.

Responding to questions from the floor, panelists advocated for avoiding the use of plastics, due to high disposal costs, and developing suitable alternative materials to plastics before phasing them out.

Keriako Tobiko, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Kenya, discussed the difficult process of engaging Kenya’s industry to agree with the government’s initiative to ban plastic carrier bags in 2017. Jonathan Wilkinson, described Canada’s efforts to establish a deposit system for recycling plastic bottles, calling for more countries and stakeholders to join the Canadian-led Oceans Plastic Charter and inviting governments to aim for zero waste in a circular economy as their ultimate goal.

Harnessing Global Action to Tackle IUU Fishing

During this side event, which was held on Wednesday, 28 November, panelists from FAO, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, Senegal National Agency for Maritime Affairs, and anti-illegal fishing NGO Trygg Mat Tracking joined the discussion. Panelists and speakers emphasized the importance of joint efforts in combating IUU fishing, considering its links to other crimes, such as corruption, money laundering and drug trafficking. Addressing participants’ questions on the definition of IUU fishing, traceability systems, a regional cooperation mechanism, as well as NGOs’ role in combating IUU fishing, panelists highlighted the need for:

  • a clear internationally-agreed definition of “illegal” fishing;
  • an IUU fishing data collection system;
  • a tracking “passport” system to trace fish from the origin of fish stock to the plate;
  • enhancing enforcement capacities, for instance by working with the International Criminal Police Organization;
  • assisting countries in developing legislative frameworks;
  • international blue justice in combating IUU fishing; and
  • The panelists also discussed NGOs’ “do’s and don’ts” in monitoring and combatting fisheries crimes, and the experiences of the Caribbean regional cooperation schemes and the effects.

Closing Ceremony

The Conference’s Leaders Circle and Closing Ceremony took place on Wednesday, 28 November, and was chaired by Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma. Michael Oyugi, Conference Secretary, presented a summary report of the conference, which, he said, had gathered over 16,000 participants from 184 countries, including heads of states and governments, ministers, mayors, governors, and business and civil society leaders, to discuss how the Blue Economy could be harnessed to promote sustainable economic development. He highlighted that consistent messages throughout the conference included:

  • oceans, seas, lakes and rivers play a critical role in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs;
  • the negative impact of human activities on the viability of Blue Economy resources and the livelihoods they support are a serious concern;
  • global collaboration is needed to harness opportunities and tackle the challenges affecting such resources;
  • an enabling environment for investments is needed to fight illegal maritime activities;
  • it is critical to involve all stakeholders, including women and youth, in the sustainable Blue Economy; and
  • climate change, pollution, waste management and the destruction of marine ecosystems need to be addressed in a sustainable Blue Economy.

In addition to signature sessions held to discuss Blue Economy themes, Oyugi said the conference had successfully: explored opportunities for entrepreneurs to access funding to expand Blue Economy activities, during the Business and Private Sector Forum; called for enhanced collaboration within and among, and for financial support for, cities, during the Governors and Mayors Convention; called for resources for science and research to generate Blue Economy data, during the Science and Research Symposium; and heard civil society actors commit to supporting governments, during the Civil Society Forum.

He highlighted commitments made during the multiple conference sessions and forums, including 62 concrete commitments to marine protection, which included investment commitments totaling hundreds of millions of dollars; plastics and waste management; maritime safety and security; fisheries development; financing; infrastructure; biodiversity and climate change; technical assistance and capacity-building; private sector support; and partnerships.

Presenting highlights from the Nairobi Statement of Intent, Minister Wilkinson said that implementing the commitments would require investments translated into bold actions. On behalf of the Canadian government, he announced contributions of: up to CAD$1 million to support the work of the UN Special Envoy to the Ocean; CAD$1.6 million to assist Pacific Islands to combat IUU fishing in their marine territories; and up to CAD$9.5 million to advance activities related to the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science. He called on all participants to join his country in establishing a Knowledge Hub to advanced science in the field of oceans and marine resources.

During a moderated discussion on the read outs and enablers of the Blue Economy, Juma reiterated the importance of partnerships and dialogue and integrated sustainable planning to deal with fresh water, land and the ocean as a whole. Wilkinson highlighted the importance of leadership and political will to find technical solutions to end plastic pollution, and of adopting available technologies to assist small countries in combating IUU fishing.

Juma drew attention to the ‘Nairobi Statement of Intent on Advancing the Global Sustainable Blue Economy,’ which encompassed the vision and intent of all Blue Economy Conference participants, expressing the hope that it would guide all future action and collaboration on the Blue Economy.

Wilkinson applauded the enthusiastic participation in providing substance to the principles of building a sustainable Blue Economy. 

Peter Thomson envisioned that the second UN Oceans Conference to take place in Lisbon, Portugal in June 2020, would build on the achievements of the Blue Economy Conference, the key messages of which, including the need to look at water and land resources holistically, he promised to bring these “to all oceans’ meetings.”

In closing remarks, President Kenyatta stressed that the “truly global representation and the far-reaching and collectively beneficial outcomes of the conference demonstrated the transformative power of multilateralism.” He highlighted commitments made, including: the development of solid environmental standards; the strengthening of political leadership and international collaboration; the provision of support to poorer countries to address threats such as UUI fishing; and the enhancement of research and data analysis.

The conference was declared closed at 4.53 p.m.

The Nairobi Statement of Intent on Advancing the Global Sustainable Blue Economy

The messages captured during the three days of the Conference reflected the critical threats and challenges facing the world’s oceans, seas, rivers and lakes and on the pressing need to preserve those Blue Economy resources in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Key messages heard at the Conference include the importance of:

  • Promoting action-oriented global strategies that place people and the Blue Economy resources at the center of sustainable development as a contribution to the realization of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs;
  • Promoting collaboration for sustainable partnerships and projects in the various sectors of the Blue Economy for economic growth, poverty alleviation and conservation of the resources for the present and future generations through a multi-sectoral approach;
  • Promoting mobilization of finance from public and private sources, access to technologies and innovations as well as capacity building among local, national and international stakeholders for the full realization of the potential of the blue economy;
  • Promoting the role of women in the Blue Economy and identifying the barriers and opportunities to further empower women and encourage their role in positions of leadership;
  • Recognizing that gender equality and the empowerment of women will build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world;
  • Strengthening science and research to generate and disseminate evidence-based knowledge and information on advancing the sustainable Blue Economy;
  • Strengthening science-policy interface of the Blue Economy resources to inform decision-making;
  • Strengthening governance mechanisms for a sustainable Blue Economy including by raising awareness and ensuring stakeholder participation in policy and decision making;
  • Promoting synergies between local authorities and national governments in the implementation of decisions on Blue Economy, including through the Governors and Mayors Global Forum for the Sustainable Blue Economy (SBE 1000); and
  • Sharing innovations, technologies, and best practices and experiences within and across regions.

Upcoming Meetings

Towards concrete blue actions in the western Mediterranean: Organised by the European Commission and the Co-Presidency of the Initiative for the Sustainable Development of the Blue Economy in the Western Mediterranean, the conference will enable maritime players from business, research, academia, training institutes, ports and national and local authorities to develop partnerships, further existing projects and create new ones. date: 3 December 2018. location: Algiers, Algeria www:  

Ministerial Conference on  Innovative Solutions to Pollution in South East and Southern Europe: The conference will focus on pollution and explore innovative solutions to tackle it, emphasizing the challenges and risks it poses to the region. dates: 4-5 December 2018 location: Belgrade, Serbia contact: N.A. phone: obsolete fax: no one uses it anymore email:  www:

25th Session of the ISA Council (Part I): The International Seabed Authority Council will continue discussions on, inter alia, the payment mechanism and the draft exploitation regulations.  dates: 25 February - 1 March 2019  location: Kingston, Jamaica  contact: ISA Secretariat  phone: +1-876-922-9105  fax: +1-876-922-0195  email:  www   

Fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly: the UN’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment will convene at its fourth session under the theme: Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production, and discuss ideas and innovations on the solutions needed to address some of the world’s greatest environmental challenges. date: 11 – 15 March 2019. location: Nairobi, Kenya www:

IGC-2: The second session of the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction will continue work on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument. dates: 25 March to 5 April 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea  phone: +1-212-963-3962  email:  www  

European Maritime Day 2019: This special day highlights the fundamental role that oceans and seas play in the lives of the coastal communities and citizens of the European Union. date: 20 May 2019 location: Lisbon, Portugal www:

Our Ocean Wealth Summit: This conference will enable participating countries to share experiences in addressing the multiple challenges facing the oceans. date: 6-7 June 2019. location: Cork, Ireland. www:

The Second UN Ocean Conference: This conference will be co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal and will focus on reviewing the implementation of SDG14, and in particular the 2020 targets under SDG14. dates: June 2020 location: Lisbon, Portugal www:

Further information