After a busy first day on the Ocean Conference, the dialogues, negotiations and events continued steadily on Tuesday. Some noteworthy events from the second day:
Second Dialogue: Marine and Coastal Ecosystems
The second multi-stakeholder dialogue, held on Tuesday morning, focused on “managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems,” the second target of SDG14. Italy and Palau chaired the dialogue on this global problem. At the end of the conference we will hear more about the outcome of the partnership dialogues.
Strawless Ocean Initiative
Actor, environmental activist and newly appointed United Nations Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador Adrian Grenier introduced this new initiative that aims to reduce the use of plastic straws in the United States from an estimated five million every day to zero. (Catchy campaign hashtag: #StopSucking.) He was joined by Norwegian politician Erik Solheim, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme
Grenier, who is also the founder of the Lonely Whale Foundation, has targeted the problem of plastic straws because of the devastating injuries they inflict on wildlife once they become marine plastic trash.
U.S.-based tech firm Dell is providing the initiative with technological and analytical support, making it a potential case study on the effectiveness of cross-sector partnerships.
Many New Voluntary Commitments
Among Tuesday’s additions:
- Iceland announced a mapping of their ocean areas, the establishment of management systems on important fish stocks, and new policies on mitigating climate change that aim to reduce marine litter and ocean acidification.
- Costa Rica emphasised its intention to protect all of its marine and coastal areas by implementing management systems. The Central American nation also vowed to regulate fisheries and protect its sea turtles.
- Indonesia called for the creation of a new UN office to coordinate a coherent approach towards management of the marine environment. Indonesia, which recently pledged up to $1 billion a year to address marine litter, has repeatedly stressed that the decline of ocean resources is a global problem and thus can only be solved by international cooperation.
- Prince Albert II of Monaco announced national policies regarding ocean conservation, including a ban on single-use plastics.
- The vice president of Seychelles, Danny Faure, announced plans to develop marine spatial planning for protection of 30 percent of the country’s economic zone. Faure also stated that Seychelles will strive towards a more open approach regarding its fishing industry, by joining the Fisheries Transparency Initiative.
- In a cross-sector partnership that embodies the collaborative emphasis of the conference, the firm Suez Environment and multiple NGOs jointed committed to cleaning coastal areas of litter and restoring marine biodiversity.
Third Dialogue: Ocean Acidification
The third multi-stakeholder dialogue took place on Tuesday afternoon. Chaired by Monaco and Mozambique, the participants discussed the topic of ocean acidification: What can be done to address how ocean chemistry is changing due to the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere, and minimise the degradation that results in the marine environment?
As the oceans absorb a third of the CO2 produced by human activity, this partnership dialogue focused on decreasing the global CO2-footprint, and restoring and conserving marine areas to sustain the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2.
Tuesday’s program also featured the world premiere of the trailer for “Blue,” a new Australian ocean documentary that hopes to spur public support for action to reverse the decline of our ocean. Directed by Karina Holden, the trailer offers a taste of the film’s stunning underwater cinematography.
Photo: Still from the documentary film “Blue.” Credit: http://www.bluethefilm.com