The successful UN Ocean Conference was co-chaired by Sweden and Fiji

Shown here is Isabella Lovin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, and Co-President of the UN Ocean Conference, (June 5-9) along with Fiji, during a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York. Pictured in the background is Peter Thomson, President of the 7lst session of the UN General Assembly. UN Photo/ Manuel Elias.

There’s no doubt about it, the UN Ocean Conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York recently was an outstanding success.  The closing statement at the Ocean Conference chaired by Isabella Lovin, Minister of International Development Cooperation and Climate Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, summed up why the world will be looking forward to the next conference co-chaired by Portugal and Kenya in the year 2020.  Here’s what Swedish co-chair, Isabella Lovin, had to say:

“In closing this historic conference, I would like to echo the gratitude expressed by Prime Minister Josia V. Bainimarama of Fiji, co-chair to all involved.  She pointed out that for the first ever, leaders from all over the world have gathered here at this great hall of humanity to discover all the combined pressures that are threatening our ocean, it has become evident that the piecemeal way of dealing with our ocean must come to an end. The ocean is one and this historic UN Ocean Conference has finally overcome this curse of fragmentation.”

In addition, the Swedish diplomat pointed out that “Member States, UN Agencies, civil societies, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders, have all recognized the need to work together, across boundaries, everyone taking their responsibilities if we are going to have a chance to save our ocean. Before this week, the ocean as a whole was not on the global agenda. Now it is. I want to underline that we are all much indebted to Fiji and the other small island states for their tireless efforts and leadership on raising the issue of oceans.

In her remarks, Sweden’s Isabella Lovin said to her ocean friends, “We have set sail, the wind is blowing in the right direction, now we need to keep the course. It is the firm view of the co-President that we must build on the strong momentum created by this conference.”

She also added: “During this week we have heard many interventions about the urgent need to review the serious decline in the state of our ocean and the calls for a strong process to drive the implementation of SDG 14 towards 2030. In this context, the Co-President would like to welcome the generous offers mad in plenary this week by the governments of Kenya and Portugal to carry the torch forward y hosting the next conference in 2020.”

In her final statement at the conference, the Swedish Minister commented that “it took a billion years for us to get where we are now.  On our journey in space, the ocean is what has kept us alive.  Let’s make sure not to fail it. Let’s now promise to each other to keep this beautiful blue planet alive.”

The successful UN Ocean Conference was co-chaired by Sweden and Fiji
Prince Albert II of the Principality of Monaco is shown during a press briefing on the Ocean Conference which took place in June 2016 at UN Headquarters. UN Photo/ Mark Garten.

Attracting a lot of attention at this year’s UN Ocean Conference at UN Headquarters in New York was Prince Albert II of the Principality of Monaco. Under the Patronage of his Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, “Monaco Exploration intends to revive the Principality’s long-standing tradition of exploration at sea, marine research, discovery, better understanding, and awareness raising, as well. Concrete actions will all be major outcomes on this initiative.”

As explained, “This initiative will consist of a three-year circumnavigation of the world’s ocean as a versatile environment, in a friendly transoceanic marine research vessel called Versin. It offers optimal travel, research, teaching and educational capacities. This endeavor will consist of 15 missions around the world.” (For more information, go to the non-governmental organization, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.)

The successful UN Ocean Conference was co-chaired by Sweden and Fiji
Pictured at the opening ceremony of the UN Ocean Conference in June were these Fijian traditional dancers. The ocean event was co-chaired by both Fiji and Sweden. UN Photo/Mark Garten.

When the President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson (Fiji) spoke at the UN Ocean Conference in New York recently, he welcomed all to humanity’s great hall to the assembly place of “we the peoples” of Planet Earth. As President Thomson stated, “this conference represents the best opportunity we will ever have to reverse the cycle of decline that human activity has placed on the ocean. The veracity of that proposition rests on the fact that SDG 14, the Ocean’s goal, is humanity’s only universally agreed measure to conserve and sustainably manage the resources of the ocean.”

In addition, the President of the General Assembly stated, “The time has come for us to correct our wrongful ways. It is inexcusable that humanity tips the equivalent of a large garbage truck of plastics into the ocean every minute, every day. We have unleashed a plague of plastics upon the Ocean that is defiling nature in so many tragic ways.”

Peter Thomson also stated that “Illegal and destructive fishing practices along with harmful Fisheries are driving our fish stocks to tipping points of collapse. All the while, the greenhouse gases of accumulated carbon-combusting human activity are not only driving climate change, they are causing rising sea levels through ocean warming, while threatening life in the ocean through acidification and deoxygenation.”

On World Ocean Day, June 8, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The oceans make our home a blue planet. The oceans regulate climate, generate oxygen, and provide ecosystem services, energy and minerals. The life teeming below their surfaces and along the shore lines is a source of food and medicines. Oceans connect all of us, linking people and nature in cultural ties and they are essential for sharing goods and services across the world. The importance of our oceans to every single living being on our planet cannot be overstated. Today, we celebrate all that the oceans give us, and reaffirm our commitment to being good stewards.”

The successful UN Ocean Conference was co-chaired by Sweden and Fiji
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (second from left) is pictured with Josia V. Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, during the Fijian traditional welcome ceremony which Opened the Ocean Conference. UN Photo/Mark Garten.

In addition, Wu-Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Ocean Conference said, “The Conference marked a major step forward for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Participants from Member States, NGOs, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community and academia engaged in wide-ranging discussion and shared state-of-the-art knowledge and latest information on marine science and challenges.”

Ann Charles

Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of “Baltic Review” based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body’s work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.