UN Ocean Conference: Five Questions to UNSG Special Envoy for the Ocean
Rabat – The UN Ocean Conference, which kicked off Monday in Lisbon, Portugal, will seek to propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action.
On this occasion, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, explains in an interview with the Moroccan News Agency (MAP) the goals of this conference and welcomes the efforts undertaken by Morocco to protect oceans.
1. “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions” is the theme of the United Nations Ocean Conference, scheduled for 27 June in Lisbon. How do you explain the choice of this theme?
• A vast majority of the ocean remains unmapped and unexplored. Through science and research, we can deepen our understanding of the ocean and find ways to improve its health
• Science-driven ocean solutions do exist – from green shipping to sustainable fisheries to off- shore renewable energy. However, access to knowledge and resources are critical to saving the ocean
• We need science-based solutions, supported by innovation and partnerships across governments, philanthropy, businesses, and the scientific community.
2. What are your expectations from this conference?
• The conference is a call to scale up ocean action, mobilise partnerships and increase investment in science-based and innovative solutions.
• At the UN Ocean conference we will launch a great fleet of science-based solutions, heavily powered by innovation and partnerships. Participants from around the world have been urged to bring the best of their ideas, solutions, and resources to the conference, and from what I’m observing, I’m confident they will do so.
3. National spending dedicated to ocean science fluctuates between only 0.04% to just 4% of the total invested in research and development, according to the Intergovernmental Ooceanic Comission’s report on Ocean Science. That means there is a funding gap for these researchs. How to remediate this problem?
• There needs to be innovative solutions to share scarce resources, such as equipment and infrastructure sharing platforms
• International collaboration in the context of joint ocean science projects will help reduce costs for field expeditions and allow countries to better develop scientific expertise.
4. How do you appreciate Morocco’s efforts to protect the oceans?
• Morocco’s efforts to protect the ocean are laudable. The Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection of Morocco, chaired by Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, is a founder of the Ocean Decade Alliance. The Alliance aims to create a network of eminent partners of the Ocean Decade who can mobilise support for the Decade through networking and influence.
• The country has launched a number of initiatives aimed at tackling oceanic environmental issues, for example programmes to sustainably manage fish resources.
5. Besides this conference, are there any other actions planned within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development?
• There is an ongoing Call for Decade Actions, currently accepting submissions of innovative programmes and projects that use ocean knowledge for developing solutions to meet the SDGs and the Ocean Decade challenges. These Calls for Decade Actions happen bi-annually and have thus far endorsed over 200 major programmes and projects taking concrete ocean action across every oceanic region.
• The Ocean Decade will be present with side events and through its endorsed Actions in other major international gatherings in 2022:
o UN High Level Policy Forum on SDG14 (5-15 July: New York, US)
o International Aquarium Congress ( 30 October – 4 November: Boulogne-sur-Mer, France)
o UNFCCC COP27 (6-18 November: Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt)
• Much of the collaboration among the experts, government officials, philanthropists and citizens engaged in the Ocean Decade Community takes place within a custom-built networking and co-design platform called the “Global Stakeholder Forum”, which is fully open to any citizen, regardless of field, academic interest or institutional affiliation.