Issue 68 | 17 February 2023
“We must end the merciless, relentless, and senseless war on nature.” Those were the words used by the UN’s Secretary-General's briefing to the General Assembly on Priorities for 2023, to highlight the “right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment.” As Large Ocean States, SIDS are the custodians of 19.1 percent of the world’s Exclusive Economic Zones, acting to safeguard them from climate change, pollution, and overfishing for the benefit of all. The ocean has its own safeguards in the form of marine biodiversity, which enable it to respond and adapt to threats and maintain stability of its ecosystems. However, especially outside of SIDS’ EEZs, preservation of biodiversity remains a critical challenge to face as a global community.
A treaty to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), could enhance the resilience of marine ecosystems in the wake of growing anthropogenic threats. However, despite SIDS’ commitment to conclude an ambitious treaty to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) during the 5th Session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC-5) held in 2022, a final agreement couldn’t be reached. Delegates agreed to resume IGC-5 in 2023, and next week deliberations will resume based on refreshed draft. Topics of particular importance include marine genetic resources (and the sharing of benefits), capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology, and measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas (MPAs).
With special relevance to SIDS, and during the fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), held earlier this month in Canada, other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) in fisheries have been acknowledged as a tool for establishing conservation structures alongside MPAs. This means that SIDS, especially whose economies largely rely on migratory fish stocks, could also envisage solutions that recognize the vital link between biodiversity and livelihoods, food security and ecosystem services. Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, has urged leaders to seize the critical opportunities for Ocean Action in 2023, stressing that a sustainable blue economy represents no less than "the future of human security" and is critical for intergenerational justice.
The critical importance of rising up to the challenges of our oceans is a key focus of this bulletin, alongside SIDS initiatives in innovative finance, women’s health, food and water security, and sustainable energy, illuminating a few of the many ways that SIDS continue to progress at the forefront of solutions for our climate and oceans.
Read the full SIDS Bulletin 68 here.