Suva, Fiji – The United Nations Oceans Conference set for 5-9 June 2017, at the UN Headquarters in New York, aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of the ocean, people and planet and increase prosperity.
As part of the preparation, the Fiji Government with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), gathered for a second National Multi-Stakeholder Consultation for the Oceans Conference on 2 May in Suva, to discuss Fiji’s plan to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 - conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
“We are reminded of the importance of oceans to our beloved Fiji. A nation more than 50 percent of its total population that live along the coast, heavily dependent on subsistence fishing; whose fisheries and aquaculture contribute to more than $136 million towards GDP, while at the same time are also losing out more than 2 percent of its coral reefs per year,” said Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries and Oceans Champion, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau at the opening of the Multi-Stakeholder Consultation.
Stakeholders present discussed and volunteered initiatives and commitments in the lead up to the UN Ocean Conference.
“We all carry the hopes of the Fijian people to the Ocean Conference. Let’s do justice to them and to the process we have dedicated an immense amount of time and resources to. I hope you will all be inspired during today’s meetings, and that we will all attend the Ocean Conference in June, armed with initiatives, partnerships, voluntary commitments and above all, dedication to action to support the noble aims of SDG14. June in New York for us, must be a Conference of commitments, solutions and partnerships. We cannot afford to achieve less,” said the Oceans Champion Minister.
“I am confident that this meeting and ultimately the Conference will be a success. We must dedicate all efforts now to its implementation as we want to be able to enjoy these things today, but also share them with our children and grandchildren and future generations.”
The one-day Consultation also deliberated on the process for the creation of Fiji’s Voluntary Commitments and the formulation of Fiji’s national oceans policy framework ahead of the conference.
As with most of the small island developing states, Fiji has a stake in ensuring the integrity of SDG14’s delivery.
UNDP partners with the Fiji Government on several initiatives to protect the ocean and keep our oceans clean and healthy and will continue its support, as Fiji serves as Co-President’s of the Conference with the Government of Sweden.
“The conference is very important for us especially in the Pacific where the islands are scattered on a large body of ocean and most of the population live along the coast and depend on the ocean for food and livelihood,” said Bakhodir Burkhanov, the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme.
“We will continue our support to the country as the implementing agency for several Fiji Government oceans related projects working towards achieving SDG14.
Burkhanov added, “We work with the Fiji Government to protect our ocean at policy level, strengthen institutions and support interventions such as Marine Protected Areas, mangrove conservation, coastal protection through the Ridge to Reef Project including using traditional governance mechanisms and traditional ecological knowledge at community level.”
UNDP manages the Ocean Action Hub that promotes great initiatives on Ocean Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods.
The stakeholders present at the Consultation include Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Environment, Department of Tourism, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji, Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area, World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, Fiji Environmental Law Association, Social Empowerment Education Programme, Soqosoqo Vakamarama, Women in Fisheries, Hunter Pearls, and other stakeholders.
The June-event is the first-ever UN Conference on oceans, which provides a global roadmap that paves the way for humanity to once and for all salvage our ocean from its current cycle of decline.
Emily Moli, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, Tel: (679) 3227 504; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Setaita Tavanabola, UNDP Communications and Knowledge Associate, Tel: (679) 3227 523; email: email@example.com