UNITED NATIONS. ARE OCEANS A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL?

 

1 JULY 2013

ARE OCEANS A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL?

An informal gathering at U.N. Headquarters discussed the best way to ensure the practical inclusion of issues related to the Oceans into Sustainable Development Goals. Its leading hosts were Ambassador Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the island state of Palau, Ambassador Gary Quinlan, Permanent Representative of Australia, Ghislaine Maxwell of the TerraMar Project, and Amir Dossal, Chairman of the Global Partnership Forum.

Participants included ambassadors, NGO and business leaders, academics, and civil society representatives to form a multi-stakeholder dialogue. In addition to the more than sixty people in attendance, including many Permanent Representatives (nearly 25 missions were present), the discussion was broadcast live on the U.N.'s WebTV.

Ambassador Beck indicated that eighteen months from now, the United Nations will launch the Sustainable Development Goals, adding: "This is a framework that will define the relationship between people and our planet for the coming generation."

The thrust of the discussion focused on the issue of Oceans in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to build consensus for creating a new goal for the Oceans. This would be an addition to the 12 goals proposed by the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 agenda. Many attendees welcomed this important discussion, noting that oceans must be included in the SDG consultation process and require multi-stakeholder engagement and partnerships in order to best incorporate healthy and productive oceans into the Sustainable Development Goals. Ambassador Quinlan echoed his support for the initiative, and pointed out that in light of the existing consultation process, discussions would have to be handled appropriately.

Speakers from Ideapod, Google, and the Global Oceans Forum, to name a few, agreed on the need to protect oceans and expressed interest in continuing the conversation with other members of civil society to promote discussion on oceans as an SDG. All in all, participants felt this was a very good start and agreed on the need for continued exchange of ideas on how best to robustly, yet elegantly, move this process forward.