By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change, EUCC
There were over 450 participants from governments, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, and civil society.
Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasna, Kingdom of Morocco, opened Oceans Action Day at UNFCCC COP22, highlighting Morocco’s Blue Belt initiative, to develop socio-economic activities from marine resources in coastal communities in Morocco. She noted the social, economic and cultural importance of oceans to Morocco and outlined several initiatives to preserve the services provided by oceans to local communities.
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco highlighted the UN initiatives that seek to protect marine areas beyond national jurisdiction. He underscored that oceans need to be decarbonized and protected from rising temperatures. He underlined challenges such as: understanding oceans’ complexity; ocean acidification and pollution; insuring blue growth; and recognizing oceans’ role in saving our climate and planet.
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Morocco, explained that global terrestrial systems’ resilience cannot be solved without considering oceans. He cautioned that fisheries management is based on data from research supported by government funds that often have interests in maximizing sustainable yield.
Ségolène Royal, Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, France, explained that the protection of seas presents a potential for blue growth to address the food and health challenges currently being faced. She advocated for oceans to be recognized as a common heritage to humanity. She explained that France’s extensive marine territory around the planet means France has duties, as opposed to rights in terms of responsible marine resource conservation and stewardship.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner on Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission, highlighted actions necessary to reinforce international ocean governance such as: ensuring strong rules that all countries must play by; international rules to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans; and the EU Strategy on Green Infrastructure.
Maria-Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General, FAO, underscored the importance of including not just green, but also blue economy goals and explained that the fisheries sector generates larger revenues than many other terrestrial sectors combined.
PLENARY HIGH-LEVEL SHOWCASE SEGMENT
OCEANS AND CLIMATE: SOLUTIONS TO THE CORE ISSUES PART I: This session was moderated by Manuel Barange, Director, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, who explained that the impacts of climate change will impact fishing communities differently, given that some communities are more dependent on fish resources than others.
Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State, US, noting that oceans could be reaching a tipping point, explained that climate change is already pushing some fish populations to migrate towards cooler waters. She drew attention to the Obama Administration’s contributions to global efforts to protect oceans including the “Our Ocean” movement, which she explained has helped secure the protection of an ocean area corresponding nearly to the size of continental Africa in three years.
Laura Tuck, World Bank, drew attention to World Bank initiatives such as: developing a blue economy development framework for developing countries; promoting climate resilience in coastal management; and mainstreaming natural resources in development planning and national economic accounts through the Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) global partnership.
Premdut Koonjoo, Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Mauritius, stated that climate change is a threat multiplier for the marine environment and underscored the need to mobilize both the private and public sectors to meet the demands ahead. He urged using public resources to mobilize private resources and develop fit-for-purpose financial mechanisms.
Greg Stone, Conservation International, for Anote Tong, former President of Kiribati, opened saying to solve the climate problem oceans have to be part of the solution He noted that when mainstreaming oceans into the climate agenda, all stakeholders should be involved, including Indigenous Peoples whom he explained, have a deep knowledge of the ocean that provides a critical understanding of how the world works.
OCEANS AND CLIMATE: SOLUTIONS TO THE CORE ISSUES PART II: This session was moderated by Biliana Cicin-Sain, President, Global Ocean Forum. She queried how to move the oceans agenda forward, and called attention to the Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate 2016-2021, which presents a guide to action on mitigation, adaptation, displacement, financing, and capacity development related to oceans, for implementation in the next 5 years.
Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador for Climate Change and SIDS Issues, Seychelles, provided an overview of innovative initiatives that Seychelles is pursuing to address climate change in the context of oceans, including: a debt for adaptation swap, whereby national debt is purchased in exchange for converting 30% of the exclusive economic zone into a marine protected areas; and discussions with the World Bank and the African Development Bank to develop blue bonds, which will be passed on to the fishing sector as sustainable loans.
Oumar Gueye, Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy, Senegal, called for understanding the role oceans play in providing essential resources for food, climate, transportation, livelihoods. Describing a number of domestic measures to conserve ocean resources, he underscored the need for global decisions on issues such as IUU fishing.
Abdelmalek Faraj, Director, Institut National de Recherche Halieutique, Morocco, presented the Moroccan Blue Belt initiative, which supports national and regional strategies for the management and governance of oceans, is inclusive and complementary, and aims to contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
OCEANS AND CLIMATE: SCIENCE SOLUTIONS: This session was moderated by Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission-UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization who called for developing an assessment of the value of oceans to humankind.
Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair, IPCC Working Group II, stated that the role of science is to reduce uncertainties and lamented that thus far there has been a degree of societal inertia and inaction to address issues highlighted by science.
Christopher Fox, Director of Special Projects, Ceres, described the work of his organization to encourage the investment community to incorporate long-term environmental and social risks into their decision-making, and that climate messages should be translated into language that the private sector can understand.
Achmad Poernomo, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia, underscored the importance of involving local communities to build climate resilience and adaptive capacity, and stressed the need to make use of community perspectives.
Françoise Gail, Ocean and Climate Platform, underscored that marine assessments should include a climate component and stated a need to move from science to policy.
SEGMENT 1: ADAPTATION CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES: This session was moderated by Jacqueline McGlade, UN Environment Programme (Ui Palau, said Palau has embarked on a number of efforts to protect the marine environment, including creating a marine protected area network and collaborating on ocean acidification issues.
Kathy Baughman McLeod, The Nature Conservancy, stated that nature reduces risk cost-effectively. She highlighted the importance of quantifying and assessing natural systems and how they contribute to reducing climate risk.
Dina Ionesco, International Organization for Migration said climate migration is increasingly being recognized as a key global issue, citing ocean protection as central to addressing these issues.
Sylvie Goyet, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, said the Pacific region looks at mitigation and adaptation as a single issue and underscored that a transformational development path is needed.
Marco Ruiz, Ministry of Environment, Peru noted efforts in this sector involve increasing the adaptability of fishermen, and reducing their vulnerability.
SEGMENT 2: MITIGATION ACTIONS AND NDCS: This session was moderated by Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Sustainable Energy for All, who outlined initiatives promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency in Small Island Developing States.
Amb. Waldemar Coutts, Director for Environmental and Ocean Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile, said that Chile believes MPAs are vital to restoring fisheries, with key attributes including, inter alia: a no-take policy; management plans; permanence; surveillance measures; and allowing an important role for communities.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF, stressed that the climate change agenda should focus on ethics, solidarity and connectedness, and noted that oceans are not beholden by national borders.
Raffael Jovine, Founder and Chief Scientist of Algae Ltd., outlined his company’s efforts in producing algae at scale, to contribute to, among others, animal feed; and said that employing ocean systems for biomass production creates employment which could have important impacts on the climate agenda
Dorothee Herr, Manager, Oceans and Climate, IUCN, said coastal ecosystems are important for storing and sequestering carbon. She highlighted the Blue Carbon Initiative, which aims to mitigate climate change through the restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems, noting an increasing interest from governments.
Edmund Hughes, International Maritime Organization outlined efforts including the Ballast Water Management Convention and a roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
Eric Banel, General Secretary, French Shipowners’ Association, said that shipping can be a part of the climate solution.
Najlaa Diouri, Tanger Med Port, said that ships require infrastructure to decrease sea pollution. She remarked on the construction of infrastructure to minimize pollution in the port, and said that this is a successful example of a public-private partnership.
SEGMENT 3: ACCESS TO FINANCE AND BUILDING CAPACITY FOR THE BLUE ECONOMY UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE: This session was moderated by Tiago Pitta e Cunha, CEO, Oceano Azul Foundation, Portugal, who noted that the blue economy must be a leading part of the world’s movement toward low-carbon economy.
Hiroshi Terashima, Ocean Policy Research Institute, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan, advocated for adopting a concrete action plan and roadmap for adaptation and mitigation that is inclusive of oceans and islands. He said high-level political leaders with a firm understanding of the importance of oceans must show leadership in the drafting and implementation of NDCs.
Stressing the need to raise awareness on the consequences of climate change, Hrund Hafsteinsdóttir, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Iceland, underscored the need to create synergies that include the whole blue economy, in cooperation with key partners, like the World Bank and FAO.
Angus Friday, Ambassador of Grenada to the US, discussed financing and capacity building from an innovation perspective, highlighting debt financial swaps to direct debt repayments towards conservation, blue bonds, blue insurance and crowd funding for the blue economy.
SUMMARY AND CLOSURE
This session was moderated by Biliana Cicin-Sain, and Manuel Barange, FAO. Dessima Williams, Special Adviser on Implementation of the SDGs to Ambassador Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly, stressed the need to maintain the level of political will, capacity building, financing, stakeholder engagement and solution-based approaches. Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility noted important work on oceans already in progress, including the GEF’s assistance to the Seychelles in their issuance of a blue bond, and drew attention to the Global Commons Initiative, which is a multi-stakeholder initiative to safeguard the Earth’s overstretched resources.