The moment we have all been waiting for; IT’S OCEANS DAY! The Ocean Pathway made a splash today with all the ocean-related events today, spanning from 10am to 8pm. The past two days have had some great events, highlighting the importance of ocean health and what countries are going to implement marine conversation platforms moving forward.
The opening event (actually held yesterday) began with a Because the Ocean event. This initiative, adopted in COP21, is where countries vowed to push for more ocean-related policy into UNFCCC matters. To date, the countries have held multiple conferences and workshops on marine policy, made great efforts to include oceans in NDCs and in future COP agenda items, and implemented various conservation projects. Below are just some examples on how countries are healing our neglected oceans.
Fiji and Sweden both co-chaired the Ocean Pathway, a platform to encourage an ocean-theme COP agenda item. Fiji, a now “large ocean state” (instead of a small island country, the typical name) realized that the parties needed the ocean to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. It believed that climate change and the ocean are “different sides of the same coin.” The Swedish representative described different ocean strategies they incorporated into their national policies. She also stressed the importance of the youth stepping up to the governments and demanding change in environmental protections, using Greta Thunberg as an example.
Spain has taken the initiative to host multiple workshops and conferences these past few years. It announced its intent to release a special report on the oceans and host a special event for all the ministries in the E.U., but sometime next year. I personally will try to attend the workshop in Madrid next April.
The U.K. has done a great job cutting down their marine plastic pollution contributions. It has also allocated 5.8 billion pounds to ocean/climate funding. The British representative expressed her passion for mangrove (or “blue forests”) protection, and has pushed in her government to increase those efforts. In fact, the U.K. has protected marine ecosystems in their territories as well as their own coastline. “All of our blue places are just as important as are green places.”
Indonesia summarized the role of oceans perfectly: “the ocean does not need us, but we need the ocean.” The country has many important marine ecosystems that act as major carbon sinks, and it wishes to protect them from dangerous activities like illegal fishing, dangerous aquaculture practices, coastal erosion, sea level rise and frequent flooding, and using petroleum.
Canada has longest coastline in the world, and recognizes that oceans are at risk due to dangerous stressors, including climate change. It too is making a lot of efforts to reduce its marine plastic pollution.
Australia is focused on blue carbon ecosystem protection, and has spearheaded the international blue carbon policy platform. It is a huge supporter of coral reef conservation, since the Great Barrier Reef is along its coastline. Australia pushed observers to collect more research to make politicians more confident to act.
So next stop, OCEAN COP25! (hopefully!)