Ocean Conference unites world
The Ocean Conference, co-chaired by Sweden and Fiji, concluded after an intensive week at the United Nations in New York. On 9 June, the countries of the world agreed on the Call for Action, confirming the political momentum that has been established to save the oceans.
"For the first time, the full range of ocean issues was raised at the UN General Assembly. It has moved from being an area for marine and fisheries experts to one that concerns everyone's survival, not least small island nations and the least-developed countries. The silo mentality that has been the curse of the oceans is finally beginning to erode. All the political engagement that has been mobilised is one of the most important outcomes of the conference. Now we must be sure to move it forward," says Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lövin, who co-chaired the Ocean Conference with Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama.
The Ocean Conference focused on solutions and was a forum for all relevant stakeholders. It resulted in more than 1 300 voluntary commitments from countries, companies, organisations and other stakeholders concerning everything from reducing plastics in the oceans to stopping illegal fishing and strengthening the protection of marine environments.
"This week was the starting point for the hard work ahead of us to reverse the negative trend in the oceans. The participants leave here with to-do lists that they will start to check off on Monday. There is also broad support for a coordinating force within the UN system to secure living oceans, which I discussed with UN Secretary-General António Guterres," says Ms Lövin.
Sweden registered a total of 26 voluntary commitments during the week, mainly within three priority areas: marine litter, ocean and climate, and a sustainable blue economy. The Swedish delegation included Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog, Minister for Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht and State Secretary Mattias Landgren, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. Crown Princess Victoria also participated during the week.
Kenya and Portugal announced that they are prepared to take up the baton from Sweden and Fiji and organise a follow-up conference in 2020. From the outset, Sweden has worked to enable the holding of follow-up conferences until 2030 in order to maintain political pressure and facilitate the implementation of the Global Goal on living oceans, Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda. A decision on the next conference must first be approved by UN Member States.