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Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) statement for the intergovernmental consultations on the declaration for the 2022 United Nations Conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

Thursday, 24 March 2022
Location: 
New York

Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) statement for the intergovernmental consultations on the declaration for the 2022 United Nations Conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

24 – 25 March 2022

 

Co- Facilitators,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the 14 Member States of the Pacific Islands Forum with presence here in New York., namely, Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and my own country, Fiji.

We welcome the latest draft Oceans Declaration with stronger urgency reaffirming our commitments made in the 2017 Declaration entitled,” Our Ocean, Our Future: call for Action.” In moving this work forward, our group remains committed and steadfast in progressing this agenda.   

We welcome the inclusion of new language in OP3 based on A/RES/71/312, Glasgow Climate Pact and further support the inclusion of aquatic food as an important source of nutrition.

We support the inclusion of the new language in Para 11 (b) and (d). Furthermore, in addition to the references in Para 11 (c) to oil seepage, sewage, agricultural and aquaculture runoff and industrial waste, we also believe in focusing on nuclear contamination to ensure this source of pollution is also addressed and managed.  We also support the current reference in Para 11 (c) to pollution from shipwrecks, which is a persistent and serious threat in many parts of the Pacific that fall within the maritime zones of a number of our members.

In the chapeau of paragraph 12, the focus on LDCs and SIDS is in accordance with the 2017 declaration, “Our ocean, our future, call for action” where paragraph 13(f) deals with science. We find it proper to target those who will benefit most from Ocean Science and we request that the listing remains as reflected in the text without any expansion.

We support the zero draft’s references to traditional knowledge in Para 12 (e) and Para 12 (h).  We do propose an amendment to the reference in Para 12 (h), so that it reads as “relevant traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.”  This is in line with standard terminology in many fora, which take care to specify who the holders of such traditional knowledge are.

Finally, we welcome the strengthening of language in para. 4 on sea level rise, particularly the commitment to take urgent action to achieve all targets as soon as possible without undue delay. The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise seeks to address one aspect of these threats but much more needs to be done. 

As we reflect on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration, we must collectively enhance our understanding of the Ocean; strengthen the Ocean science and policy interface and focus on effective implementation of all commitments made while going further, to ensure a thriving Ocean now and for the future. 

NATIONAL CAPACITY:

I am pleased to deliver the following remarks in my national capacity. Fiji welcomes the current draft Declaration and thanks the Co-Facilitators for the work undertaken thus far. The current draft declaration reflects the challenges facing the World’s oceans and nowhere are these challenges more pressing than in the Blue Pacific.

 

Co - Facilitators,

Fiji considers the Ocean economy as the solution and catalyst for long-term, inclusive and sustainable development. Investing in ocean health through sustainable blue economy activities can help ensure a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient ocean economy fit for everyone’s future.

We need to understand, however, that many countries have made significant progress towards implementing SDG 14 and others less so. The economic pressures arising from COVID-19 and the frequent climate disasters have been substantial on small states.

The blue investments that are necessary have simply not been available on a scale and at low cost to these countries and yet some of them have jurisdiction over large areas of the Ocean. For example, Fiji’s EEZ extends to well over a million square kilometres. The declaration must therefore make a call for significant increase in affordable blue finance on grant and long-term concessionary rates for small states.

 

Co - Facilitators,

The Blue Food Systems serve as an anchoring pillar in the development and maintenance of sustainable foods, health and security in Fiji. Aquatic food is an important source of nutrition to over 3 billion people, therefore, making sustainable fisheries and aquaculture an integral part of our food systems transformation, should be reflected in the declaration as they have potential to expand their reach in a nature-positive way and contribute greatly to our common goal of zero hunger for a growing human population.   

We must also ensure that the benefits of a sustainable ocean economy are shared, including through transparent, responsible business practices that engage and benefit coastal communities, while simultaneously protecting the rights of all workers in ocean industries. In order to ensure a safe and sustainable ocean economy, combating forced labour, trafficking in persons and contraband along supply chains in the ocean economy must also be reflected within the declaration.

 

Co - Facilitators,

We are pleased that the declaration recognises the commitment made by 100 member states to protect at least 30% of the global ocean within marine protected areas (MPAs). However, Fiji notes that they are often undermined by a broad range of challenges, many of which are driven by inadequate financing, a problem reported by more than 60% of MPAs.

For SIDS, MPAs offer opportunities for nature- tourism businesses, enhanced food supplies, new fishing incomes, the reversal of biodiversity loss and help enhance climate change resilience, which in turn should deliver positive outcomes for all people.

In order to deliver a healthy global ocean—one that benefits ecosystems, fisheries, and communities it is imperative that the declaration ensures that sustained financing is secured for the long-term health and resilience of MPAs.

 

Co - Facilitators,

Fiji is currently supporting a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining to allow for a decade of proper scientific research of economic zones and territorial waters. The research utilises a precautionary approach and will allow leaders to be well-informed on how to progress with the deep-sea mining industry – if they choose to do so. Fiji wants to underscore the importance of monitoring the impacts of sea bed mining within the declaration. We must not forget that the oceans are about the people that depend on oceans for survival and ecological communities that depend on oceans for a habitat. No one must be left behind in our ocean's agenda.

 

Co - Facilitators,

Now is the time for bold action to protect our environment and invest in a sustainable blue economy that will benefit people and nature. Fiji will take to the floor of the 2nd Oceans Conference to remind World leaders of how fundamental the health of the Blue Pacific is to the economic, security and the wellbeing of people, communities and Governments across the world to their livelihoods and to the well-being of the planet as a whole.

 

I thank you.