A United Nations-backed summit wrapped up in the Netherlands today with a set of concrete actions to turn around the health of the world’s oceans and food security for millions by tackling key threats such as climate change, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution.
The summit – which brought together hundreds of Government officials, ocean science experts, business leaders, philanthropists and heads of international organizations – was an initiative of the Dutch Government, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank.
“This summit has put an accent on action and the route to navigate on oceans, fisheries management and aquaculture is much clearer than before,” said Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Actions agreed at the summit focused specifically on improving governance, enhancing sustainable financing, building partnerships for action and sharing knowledge on successful solution implementation.
The gathering called for, among other steps, a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on oceans as part of the post-2015 development framework; much stronger recognition of the escalating impacts from climate change on oceans; and eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing.
Sharing of knowledge, experiences and solutions through information and communications technology that can enforce and monitor in real time and connect communities globally was among the other actions participants called for.
“This summit has presented the way forward for a new type of growth – blue growth which is sustainable, equitable and takes the value of the ocean’s ecosystem services into account,” World Bank representative Valerie Hickey stated.
‘Blue growth’ emphasizes conservation and sustainable management of aquatic resources and equitable benefits to the coastal communities that rely on them. The term “blue economy” stems from the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), and refers to food, jobs and opportunities for development provided by ocean and coastal assets.
“Together, we can restore ocean health at the speed and scale necessary to drive broad-based blue growth, secure food security and turn down the heat on climate change,” added Ms. Hickey. “We have the set of actions needed – let’s move on them now.”