On 5 June 2017, the United Nations Ocean Conference opens its doors in New York and welcomes thousands of people from all over the world. What is going to happen?

The principal outcome of this conference will not be a formal agreement, in the style of the Paris Agreement on climate change — though many have been calling for such a thing. A much less ambitious “call for action” has been agreed in advance. Get the background here and Review the final text here.

Instead, the conference will principally serve as a springboard for voluntary actions, especially those powered by partnerships between governments, communities, business, NGOs, and others. Hundreds of voluntary commitments have already been registered, at the UN’s “Ocean Action Hub”. Review the voluntary commitments, and/or make your own commitment, here.

Also, as usually happens at these large UN conferences, there will be about 150 “side events” — seminars, panel discussions, presentations and receptions — hosted by a wide variety of organizations. Review the current program and side events here.

The formal program is organized around several thematic partnership dialogues that are intended to showcase solutions and recommendations for the successful implementation of the ocean-centered Sustainable Development Goal 14.

So do not expect drama from this conference: no late-night negotiating sessions between heads of state, no new agreements on targets to reach (beyond what has already been agreed in the SDG 14 Targets).

The thing to watch out for — and what we at SDG14.net will be reporting on, through our Twitter feed and Facebook page — are surprise announcements about new, ambitious initiatives to save our oceans. This conference will provide participants with a global stage that they are certain to take advantage of for launching their most ambitious new projects.

We will comb through the announcements to share the best of them with you, just as we have been sharing the best ocean websites linked to the SDG Targets.

The UN Ocean Conference is the beginning of what is likely to be a lengthy global process. That’s what makes it interesting: It’s like the moment when a ship hoists sail and leaves port, full of promise.

Let’s hope, for the sake of the oceans as well as all of humanity, that the promise is fulfilled.