Contributing to the UN Ocean Conference’s “A call to all the voices of the ocean”
The preparations for the 2025 UN Ocean Conference that will be held in June 2025 in Nice, France are already underway, and as part of the preparatory process the “A call to all the voices of the ocean” Synthesis Report was published in September 2023, to which the One Ocean Hub was a contributor. The Hub suggestions for widening participation of civil society and inclusivity at the Conference, strengthening synergies with other global frameworks, improving interconnectedness between different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets, and increasing investment and financial support in sustainable ocean research, practices, and conservation are reflected in the report. This blogpost summarises Hub’s contributions to the report.
The Hub’ contributions were prepared by Hub Director, Prof Elisa Morgera, and early-career researcher, Dr Senia Febrica (University of Strathclyde, UK) in June 2023 in response to a civil society consultation led by Rémi Parmentier (The Varda Group) and Loreley Picourt (Ocean & Climate Platform) on behalf of the French and Costa Rican Governments that will host the Conference. The following sections reflect on how the key messages from the Hub written submission were included in the report.
Inclusion and representation of a wider part of civil society
The Hub recommended for the UN Ocean Conference to draw attention to the values, challenges, and processes of adopting transdisciplinary ocean research to ensure respect and inclusivity for the needs, knowledge and human rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, including women, children and youth, and small-scale fishers. This recommendation is reflected in various parts of the Synthesis Report that called for:
- “the inclusion and participation of scientists, early career professionals, women, youth, Indigenous peoples and local communities and general public”;
- replication of “efforts to include Indigenous peoples and local communities, small-scale fisheries, and youth”;
- improvement in supporting “the participation of the Indigenous Peoples, local communities and disadvantaged communities, small CSOs, youth including early career professionals, scientists and the private sector;
- On Small-scale fisheries: organising a dedicated Ocean Action Panel during UNOC 3, building on the Call for Action released for Lisbon (2022) (Ocean & Climate Platform, the Varda Group, 2023: 8-9 and 21). As part of a broader effort to improve inclusiveness, particularly children, across the UN system the Hub has contributed to an array of international submissions and developed our policy briefs (see here, here, here, here, and here).
Strengthening synergies between the UN Ocean Conference and other global frameworks
The Hub advocated for the UN Ocean Conference to strengthen synergies with other global frameworks, such as the UN Decade of Ocean Science’s aim to stimulate and empower transformative ocean research and co-develop solutions with stakeholders, the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, the Global Biodiversity Framework.
The Hub also stressed the need for inclusive, equitable, and integrated approaches in the implementation of the new Agreement on biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), the FAO Guidelines on Small-scale Fisheries, the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Paris Agreement, the WTO Fisheries Subsidies Agreement (see also here), and other ocean governance and international human rights instruments.
The Hub inputs on synergies between UN Ocean Conference and other global frameworks are reflected in various parts of the Synthesis Report:
- one out three organisations stressed the importance of strengthening synergies with other global frameworks and their targets. It includes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), BBNJ, negotiations on the Deep-sea, Plastics and at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) (Ocean & Climate Platform, the Varda Group, 2023:10).
- A holistic and coordinated approach also includes reflecting on how achieving SDG 14 can lead to reach other global targets. Including the GBF, the Paris Agreement, the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the BBNJ Treaty;
- More than 20% of organisations have identified the objectives for the third UN Ocean Conference to constitute a facilitative platform and an opportunity to catalyse action to achieve these targets
- the adoption of a moratorium or a ban on deep-sea mining;
- the entry into force of the High Seas Treaty in 2025’
- the adoption of an ambitious and legally-binding Plastic Treaty;
- States’ inclusion of the ocean in their national strategies for biodiversity and climate, i.e. in Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) and National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAPs);
- calls for the protection of the Southern Ocean (Ocean & Climate Platform, the Varda Group, 2023: 10, 15-17).
Advancing interconnectedness between different SDGs targets
The Hub advised that the UN Conference should focus on identifying actions that support synergies between SDG14 and other SDGs, to foster policy coherence (e.g. SDG 17, 16), protect human rights and increase funding for SDG 14 that provides co-benefits for other SDGs. The Synthesis Report explicitly mentioned that to:
address the challenges facing the ocean, it is essential to adopt a holistic and integrated approach that considers the interconnectedness between the SDGs. Adopting such an approach could help expand the scope of stakeholders involved, especially from the private sector, by tackling a broader range of questions and issues. Breaking silos could be done by: discussing the achievement of SDG 14 and the balance between the potential positive and negative impacts that the achievement of other SDGs could have on the ocean; using the Conference as a platform to identify and promote innovative solutions and technologies that can help achieve SDG 14 and other relevant SDGs (Ocean & Climate Platform, the Varda Group, 2023: 15)
Increasing investment and financial support in sustainable ocean practices and conservation
The One Ocean Hub advocated for governments and the private sector to invest more in ocean action through climate finance, development cooperation finance and sustainable blue economy finance mechanisms, and prioritise transdisciplinary ocean research as a necessary and innovative path for the co-development of transformative and equitable ocean-climate solutions with Indigenous and local knowledge holders, ocean-dependent communities, women and children. The Hub’ recommendation is reflected throughout the report section on “Way Forward” particularly the suggested actions to uplift SDG14 to different stakeholders. To quote the report:
Specific to governments
- “Acknowledge the role of the private sector and civil society in advancing ocean action” (Ocean & Climate Platform, the Varda Group, 2023: 19).
Specific to the private sector
- The private sector is mobilised in the run-up to the Conference to ensure its active participation and involvement;
- Increases accessible investments:
- For coastal communities and sustainable SSF, through finance tools such as social impact bonds and blue carbon markets, where appropriate.
- To support ocean science, innovation and technology and the development of solutions
- Profits are invested into sustainable ocean actions and solutions (Ocean & Climate Platform, the Varda Group, 2023: 19).
Relevant to both governments and the private sector
- Understand and acknowledge their role and responsibilities in achieving SDG 14 and the 2030 Agenda…
- Understand that business-as-usual will be more costly than concrete action and effective implementation of measures…to protect the ocean and its resources.
- Come together in coalition to champion science-based ocean solutions.
- Collaborate together: In application of a “Blue Ambition Loop”…; By engaging in private-public partnerships to invest in the protection of the ocean and its transition towards a sustainable future (Ocean & Climate Platform, the Varda Group, 2023: 20).
Specific to civil society
- By presenting solutions …that demonstrate the benefits of investing in SDG 14, as well as the success of public-private partnerships…
- Foster partnerships with the private sector.
- Hold Governments and the private sector accountable to their commitments (via monitoring and reporting).
- Through communication, by raising awareness through storytelling and campaigns.
At the third UN Ocean Conference in 202,5 the Hub will aim to draw attention to the values, challenges, and processes of adopting transdisciplinary ocean research to ensure respect and inclusivity for the needs, knowledge and human rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, including women and children. Transdisciplinary research implies working with stakeholders and different knowledge holders in the co-creation of solutions. On 12 October 2023 the Hub has been endorsed as UN Ocean Decade Implementing Partners with a special focus on transdisciplinarity and our work will support the UN Decade contributions to the UN Ocean Conference.
Main photo: Nessim Stevensson