The third Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean commemoration closed today with leaders and key communities from across the region calling for revitalized regional cooperation and innovative approaches to get back into balance with nature, and halt the serious decline in the ocean’s health.
Organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the annual commemoration serves to highlight the importance of oceans to tens of millions of people around the region as well as the urgent need to transform our relationship with the ocean into a more sustainable one. This year, participants from over 60 countries engaged in interactive dialogues on four priority areas: fostering sustainable tourism and fisheries; sustainable maritime connectivity; ocean accounts data and statistics; and solutions for land-based marine pollution.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana spotlighted the need for improved ocean governance and data. “While we recognize that we can provide comprehensive decision-making supported by integrated oceans data solutions, there is a clear case for collecting and sharing more comparable and integrated data on oceans. Lack of availability of data for Sustainable Development Goal 14 has limited the ability to provide adequate policy responses,” said Ms. Alisjahbana. She also underlined the need to embrace sustainable social norms that transform our addiction to single-use plastics, leveraging available digital technologies to monitor and manage plastic waste.
“In this pandemic, when we are all deeply trying to cope with its health and economic consequences, the ocean can be a guide for our recovery plans and efforts. But the ocean cannot fall out of our focus; we must take this opportunity to invest in actions and sectors that enable us to build back bluer. Tourism, fisheries, shipping, aquaculture, nature-based climate solutions – all sectors of the ocean economy need to become part of the sustainable ocean economy,” underscored President of Palau H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. in his keynote remarks.
“The ocean is truly at the heart of what connects us all around the world. The maritime sector provides an example of this and shows the importance of the ocean for a truly sustainable development. Despite the tremendous challenges throughout the pandemic, international shipping has kept the trade going within regions, and between continents. It has made sure that the critical supplies such as medicines and food, as well as the basic resources that we all depend on, have been able to move without major interruptions,” highlighted International Maritime Organization Secretary-General Mr. Kitack Lim.
“There is a growing acceptance that humanity has been pushing the planetary boundaries too far and hard, and that we must get back into balance by following a Blue-Green Recovery Road out of the inevitable economic hardships caused by this pandemic. Sustainable Development Goal 14 has always stood for that balance – to conserve and sustainably use the Ocean’s resources,” shared Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean. He further highlighted several examples of local action including the Global Mangrove Alliance and Global Tuna Alliance’s work on the ground.
2021 marks the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which aims to encourage efforts across the science-policy interface to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and create improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean. ESCAP’s commitment to support the regional implementation of the Ocean Decade encompasses the optimization of common resources and securing the engagement of all stakeholders in the region, including through the annual commemoration of the Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean and strengthening work supporting the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal 14 and its synergies with other SDGs.
For more information on the Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean: https://www.unescap.org/events/third-asia-pacific-day-ocean