Participants discussed how to achieve healthy oceans and seas, including through a "stand-alone" Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), at an event on 4 February 2014, in New York, US. ‘Healthy Oceans and Seas: A Way Forward' highlighted the role of healthy oceans and seas in the survival of people and the planet and discussed the role of technology in preventing and mitigating impacts from natural phenomena.
Addressing ocean-related challenges and protecting marine biodiversity will require "conservation, but also innovation, not least through the power of technology,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said in his opening remarks. He emphasized the UN's commitment to working with stakeholders “to achieve healthy oceans and sustainable development for all.”
“Until the international community can agree on a holistic SDG-type framework and implement programs to reverse the devastation to our oceans and seas,” Palau will close its waters to commercial fishing, Tommy Remengesau, President, Palau, declared in a statement on behalf of the Pacific SDG Working Group Troika and the Pacific small island developing States (PSIDS). He said this action will help Palau to achieve the “very essence” of sustainable development: economic growth, environmental health and food security.
Remengesau described three main targets for a stand-alone oceans SDG: a healthy, well-managed marine environment, including developing marine protected areas (MPAs) and addressing ocean acidification; restored, healthy fish stocks for economic growth and food security, which will require addressing, inter alia, destructive fishing practices and over-fishing; and assistance for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), African countries and SIDS. He underscored that ensuring healthy oceans and seas is “not solely an ‘island' issue” but essential to sustaining life and livelihoods and eradicating poverty.
The Governments of Italy and Palau, Global Partnerships Forum and Sustainable Oceans Alliance organized the event, which took place on the margins of the Eighth Session of the Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York, US (OWG 8).