Swedish national statement at The Ocean Conference, 6 June 2017, by Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister

Mr President,
As much as we all share the air we breathe – we all share the ocean. Climate change and ocean health both need international frameworks and joint efforts by all stakeholders. We are in this together! We need to cooperate. We need multilateralism. The Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda are vital and the Swedish Government remains firmly committed to these agreements, and encourage others to do the same.

Together with Fiji, Sweden is a proud initiator of this conference. We expect it to show how important our ocean is for the success of the entire 2030 Agenda.

Mr President,
Already back in 1972, at the Stockholm Conference, the first UN Conference on the Human Environment, pollution of the seas was recognised as a threat to human development. It's easy, and sad, to see that 45 years later, we haven't done our homework.

As with climate change, the deterioration of marine environments hits the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest, particularly in LDCs and SIDS. Saving our ocean is a matter of justice. It has existential consequences for entire nations and threatens the security of millions of people.

Therefore, one of Sweden's voluntary commitments is that we will significantly strengthen our development cooperation in support of SDG 14. Our next global strategy on the environment, climate, oceans and natural resources will be implemented for the period 2018–2022. The funds – up to USD 750 million over the 5-year period – mean significantly raised ambitions for the oceans.

The Ocean Conference provides a unique opportunity to change the path and ensure a living ocean for future generations. Sweden is making more than 20 voluntary commitments this week to safeguard the marine environment, achieve sustainable fisheries and strengthen resilience to climate change.

Mr President,
Our commitments focus on three critical areas.

Firstly, on climate change

The ocean has for too long been too absent in the international climate discussions. Yet we know, the ocean is fundamentally changing because of CO2-emissions. It has become 30 per cent more acidic.

More than 90 per cent of all the heat humanity has added to the planet since the 1950s has been absorbed by the oceans. And we are just beginning to understand the seriousness of ocean acidification, warming and deoxygenation.

To put it in simple words: To save our oceans we must live up to the Paris Agreement and cut emissions. Our goal is make Sweden the first fossil-free welfare nation with zero net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045. To this end, the Swedish parliament will next week adopt a new climate policy framework with a historic climate act that is binding for future governments.

We must cut emissions, but we also must strengthen the ocean's resilience. Mangroves, seagrass beds and other coastal habitats are crucial for CO2 storage as so called blue carbon. Sweden will support the IUCN, the Ocean Foundation and the International Coral Reef Initiative with USD 1.6 million to strengthen developing countries' knowledge and capacity to handle ocean effects of climate change. Sweden will also contribute financially to Germany's new Blue Action Fund with approx. USD 5.5 million.

Secondly, marine litter

Litter and microplastics in oceans and marine food chains are spreading at a catastrophic pace. We urgently need to identify the pathways of pollution, from land to sea, and take necessary action.

Sweden is committing to strengthening our support by more than USD 1.7 million to UN Environment's Global Program of Action for Land-based Pollution and the Clean Sea Campaign, and to the Action Platform on Source-to-Sea Management.

At home in Sweden, we will implement a national programme on sound plastic management. Together with our neighbours in the Baltic and North Sea region we are working for a ban on microplastics in cosmetics. Sweden will also co-lead the Arctic Marine Debris project. The sensitive and vulnerable Arctic environment and biodiversity need our particular attention.

Thirdly, sustainable blue economy

Sweden has a long coastline. A healthy sea is important for our people and our economy.

We recently achieved SDG 14's target on marine protected area after doubling the level of protected areas within Swedish territory, which is now above 13 per cent.

In 2015, the Government also presented an Integrated Maritime Strategy based on sustainable use of marine and coastal resources. This was a landmark for our sustainable blue economy. Measures to protect biodiversity and decisions to cut harmful emissions from shipping to a fraction at global level are being implemented. HELCOM, OSPAR and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region are important frameworks to this end.

Sweden warmly welcomes the entry into force of the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. We commit to a contribution of USD 5.5 million to the FAO to support the implementation of this important agreement in developing countries also supporting the Global Record of Fishing Vessels. We are also pushing for multilateral efforts within the WTO to fight harmful fisheries subsidies and meet target 6 of SDG 14.

Mr President,
Sweden joins others in calling for the Secretary-General to build on the momentum of the Ocean conference for the implementation of SDG 14. We should ensure concrete ways to apply the outcomes across the UN system.

For the sake of all creatures that live below water – as well as all women and men, boys and girls who depend on them and for the sake of our children and grandchildren, for the sake of this blue planet ocean – the time to act is now. This conference is just the starting point!

Thank you.