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The UN Ocean Conference Side events - UN Environment contributions

UN Environment was involved in a series of side events at the UN Ocean Conference held from 5 to 9 June at UN Headquarters in New York.

Key EC-UN Environment side events included:

On Tuesday 6 June:

  • Participation by UN Environment Head Erik Solheim on the Regional Ocean Governance Day in an event with German secretary of state for Environment and Swedish Minister of Environment. Discussions evolved around facilitating cross-sectoral regional collaboration to support implementation towards SDG 14 and included the presentation of the Regional Seas Programme
  • During the Day, two publications were launched for which UN Environment is a co-publisher: (i) Parternering for a Sustainable Ocean (together with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and Institute for Sustainable Deve- lopment and International Relations (IDDRI)); and (ii) Realizing Integrated Regional Ocean Governance (together with European Commission).   

On Thursday 8 June:

  • Implementation of the ecosystem approach at the regional level for the coordinated achievement of the targets of SDG14 with high level key note speakers including Carmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime and Fisheries Affairs, European Commission; Elliott Harris, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Director, New York Office; Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Food and Agriculture Organisation. Main points highlighted were that regional cooperation and governance is also relevant to international processes, which should build on and not multiply existing regional structures, co-operations, which aim to implement the SDGs and SDG14 specific targets. 

 

  • A side event on a multi-stakeholders governance for tackling marine litter in the Mediterranean sea 

Co-organizers: European Commission, UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan-Barcelona Convention and General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (UN Environment/MAP)

Summary: Key-Note Speakers were Carmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime and Fisheries Affairs, European Commission; Elliott Harris, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Director, New York Office; Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Food and Agriculture Organisation; followed by joint presentations on the Implementation of the ecosystem approach at the regional level for the coordinated achievement of the targets of SDG14; by Mr Gaetano Leone, Coordinator, UN Environment/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat and Mr Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary, General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean. As well as by national reflections by Ms Christina Baritaki, Secretary General, Ministry of Environment and Energy Hellenic Republic Greece, and Chair of Bureau of UN Environment/MAP, Greece; and Ms Mbarka Bouaida, Secretary of State in charge of Fisheries and Mr. Faraj Abdelmalek, Director of Institute National de la Recherche Halieutique (INRH), Morocco.

The speakers highlighted following key points: 
·        Regional Ocean Governance is key for the achievement of SDG14 targets; 
·        Ongoing cooperation between GFCM and UN Environment/MAP has specifically showcased the importance of cooperation of Regional Sea Commissions and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations in relation to a coordinated approach to implement the SDGs and specifically the ecosystem approach; 
·        Regional cooperation and governance is also relevant to international processes, which should build on and not multiply existing regional structures, co-operations, which aim to implement the SDGs and SDG14 specific targets; 
·        The challenges ahead are about how to strengthen regional governance to implement SDGs and SDG14 and to find the best way of implementation, integration and coherence of environment and fisheries policy and links with many other sectors such as energy, agriculture, transport, industry, tourism, and in general regional development and investing for the future (sustainable consumption and production-consumption, innovation in technologies, including financial tools; improving the knowledge base are thus of key importance here); 
·        Strengthened cooperation of regional ocean governance bodies with a focus on strengthening implementation, in line with common objectives, is not only an option but a necessity. 

 

  • Side event on a multi-stakeholders governance for tackling marine litter in the Mediterranean sea 

Co-organizers: Legambiente Omlus, UN Environment/MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat, Italian Ministry of Environment, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN-Mediterranean), European Environment Agency, Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat (UfMS), European Bioplastics, Environmental Alliance for the Mediterranean, Kyoto Club

Summary: The event show cased the Mediterranean answer to the global problem of marine litter and as such share experience on how different key regional stakeholders in their various capacities can work together in a coordinated manner to address marine litter management. It focused on the urgent need to act at a regional level and as such on the implementation needs of the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean, which is the first legally binding regional instrument, aiming to minimize marine litter presence and its impacts. It built on Article 18 of this Regional Plan, which specifies the necessity of cooperation among regional partners and actors. As such it highlighted that from policy makers to plastic industry, from research to the associations of citizens, building on regional legal frameworks and political initiatives, all stakeholders have a role to play in prevention, monitoring and clean-up of marine litter. 

UN Environment/MAP highlighted that in line with the Marine Litter Regional Plan, collective responses are absolutely necessary; synergy and cooperation are key elements, with a need for a higher effectiveness and better coordination of the collective responses to marine litter challenges and show cased the experience of the Regional Cooperation Platform on Marine Litter, which is a regional platform, aiming to ensure contribution of all regional partners and actors to the implementation of the Marine Litter Regional Plan. 

  • Side event on Regional Marine Protected Areas (MAP) networks in action 

Co-organizers: MedPAN, CaMPAM, RAMPAO, NAMPAN, WIOMSA, HELCOM, UN Environment/ MAP and the French Biodiversity Agency

Summary: The speakers of the various regional Marine Protected Areas networks and Regional Seas highlighted the important role of MPAs, with the key message that regional human networks of Marine Protected Areas managers are successful when contributing to the dissemination of knowledge and best management practices using effective communication and training tools. Exchanges of managers with similar issues but different local context generate creativity, problem solving and resource sharing. MPA networks develop (and should, to be sustainable) also strong collaborations with Regional Seas Conventions and create long-term partnerships.
They also all agreed that working toward the shared goal of effective MPAs, regional MPA networks also have a great potential to champion the new marine conservation challenges and for teaming up to keep the global and regional MPA agendas moving forward. 
UN Environment/MAP in addition also highlighted the importance of exchange of best practices on MPAs management between Regional Seas and as such the key importance of the UN Environment Regional Seas Programme and she also stressed the need for coordination between regional players on area based management measures (between Regional Sea Conventions and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations) and as such show-cased the Mediterranean example, based on the Memorandum of Understanding between UN Environment/MAP and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean

 

More information: 

Link to the Ocean Conference.

Link to the reports from IISD Reporting Services of all 5 days (including images)

 

 

UN Environment Head, Erik Solheim, introducing UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, Adrian Grenier, a major ocean advocate having set up the Lonely Whale Foundation at the opening of the Clean Seas Experience at the Oceans Conference in June 2017. This Exhibition offered a virtual reality tour of the impact of plastic pollution on the sea.

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