Closing statement at the Ocean Conference by Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden
New York, 9 June 2017.
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Mr. President of the General Assembly, Madame Deputy Secretary General, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends of our Ocean,
In closing this historic conference I would like to echo the gratitude expressed by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama to all involved.
What an inspiring conference this has been!
During this week we have carried out several extremely productive partnership dialogues and I would like to thank the co-chairs, as well as the moderators and panelists. The partnership dialogues have always been the heart of this conference and I believe that the very fruitful discussions have shed light on some of the solutions needed to save our oceans and bring sustainable blue development to all.
The strong response we have received from the thousands of people that have participated during the conference has been truly overwhelming. The number of interesting and crowded side events on the broad range of urgent and burning issues facing the oceans, including overfishing, marine litter and ocean acidification, have contributed greatly to the success of this conference and I would like to thank every single participant for your contribution.
Friends, for the first time ever leaders from all over the world have gathered here at this great hall of Humanity to discuss all the combined pressures that are threatening our ocean. It has become evident that the piecemeal way of dealing with our ocean must come to an end. The ocean is one. And this historic UN Ocean Conference has finally overcome this curse of fragmentation. It has broken down silos. Member states, UN Agencies, civil society, the private sector, academia and other stakeholders have all recognized the need to work together, across borders and boundaries, everyone taking their responsibility if we are going to have a chance to save our ocean. Before this week, the Ocean as a whole was not on the global agenda. Now it is. I want to underline, that we are all much indebted to Fiji and the other small island states for their tireless efforts and leadership in raising the ocean making sure we have the SDG 14.
And not least on raising awareness that the climate and ocean agenda go hand in hand. The conference has confirmed a strong commitment among stakeholders to urgently address the causes and severe consequences of climate change for the oceans and the importance of the Paris Agreement.
Ocean friends -we have set the sail, the wind is blowing in the right direction – now we need to keep the course steady.
It is the firm view of the Co-Presidents that we must build on the strong momentum created by this conference. During this week we have heard many interventions about the urgent need to reverse the serious decline in the state of our ocean and the calls for a strong process to drive the implementation of SDG 14 towards 2030. In this context the Co-Presidents would like to welcome the generous offers made in plenary this week by the governments of Kenya and Portugal to carry the torch forward by hosting the next conference in 2020. We strongly support these offers which will be reflected in the report by the Co-Presidents to the General Assembly for its consideration.
Distinguished delegates, we need a strong home for the ocean at the United Nations. The Call for Action that we have just adopted calls upon the UN Secretary–General to enhance interagency coordination and coherence throughout the UN system on ocean issues. So we look to his leadership to help drive the SDG 14 agenda forward and to the UN system to assist in maintaining the engagement at the country and regional levels. We also note the many calls to ensure that these efforts are galvanized at a high level.
Friends, I am so happy to be part of this historical week when we, all of us together, put the Ocean where it belongs. At the centre of the political agenda. Finally putting it in its right context: As a matter of human survival.
This week has been the game changer we wanted it to be, and we must not lose this momentum! There is no turning back. Let me repeat what I said in my opening remarks: change is possible – if there is political will. It´s as simple as that. The knowledge we now have, on how close to collapse our oceans are, must produce this will. All of us care about the oceans. We all depend on them. We must now show the political leadership and courage and continue this path. It is a question of survival!
Friends, as has been said here this week – together we are all crew on the spacecraft Earth. Or if you will: we are all islanders on the island Earth in the black empty sea of space. It´s our only home. We have traveled a long way. It took a billion years for us to get where we are now. On our journey in space, the ocean is what has kept us alive. Let's make sure to not fail it. Let´s now promise each other to keep this beautiful blue planet alive!