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Nigeria, others in Lisbon declaration, call for global commitment to ocean

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
25 July 2022   |   3:41 am
The five-day UN Ocean Conference ended last week with more than 150 countries, including Nigeria, collectively agreeing to scale up science-based and innovative actions

[FILES] Ocean waves. Photo: Pexels / Pixabay

The five-day UN Ocean Conference ended last week with more than 150 countries, including Nigeria, collectively agreeing to scale up science-based and innovative actions to address the ocean emergency.

This agreement, together with bold commitments from all sectors of society — youth, civil society, businesses and the scientific community — clearly demonstrates the centrality of a safe, healthy and productive ocean to food security, livelihoods and a safe planet.

“The conference has been an enormous success,” stated Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, in his closing remarks. “It has given us the opportunity to highlight critical issues and generate new ideas and commitments. But it has also shed light on the work that remains, and the need to scale this up and raise ambition for the recovery of our ocean.”

More than 6,000 participants, including 24 Heads of State and Government and over 2,000 representatives of civil society attended the Conference, advocating urgent and concrete actions to tackle the ocean crisis. From rising sea levels and marine pollution to ocean acidification and habitat loss, the planet’s largest biodiversity reservoir is in jeopardy, threatening to derail progress on Sustainable Development Goal 14, the key roadmap for global action on life below water.

Additionally, cumulative human impacts on the ocean — the lungs of our planet — if not curtailed, will exacerbate the climate emergency and hinder the aspirations of the Paris Agreement.

Ocean-based economies have also been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and there were many setbacks in ocean management, monitoring and science. The multidimensional food, energy and finance crisis is further aggravating the fallout and weakening people’s ability to cope.

The conference also heard many success stories with many initiatives showcased demonstrating how stakeholders can come together to transition towards a sustainable ocean economy, and as a result, improve biodiversity, community livelihoods and climate resilience.

The talks succeeded in translating ideas into action, with a host of new commitments made by many countries and stakeholders. Close to 700 commitments were registered. These commitments showcase the critical need for innovation and science to revitalise the ocean.

The conference also saw the unanimous adoption of the Lisbon Declaration, a suite of science-based and innovative actions, taking into account the capacity challenges facing developing countries and others at the frontline of the devastating impacts of the ocean emergency.

Countries agreed on actions ranging from strengthening data collection, recognising the role of indigenous people in sharing innovation and practices to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international maritime transportation, especially shipping.

They also agreed to promote innovative financing solutions to achieve sustainable ocean-based economies and encourage women and girls’ meaningful participation in the ocean-based economy.

“Going forward, it will be important that we renew our focus on ocean action. We need to do this by focusing on improving the scientific basis for our decisions, improving the science-policy interface and engaging in scientific partnerships that build capacity through mutual learning,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Secretary-General of the Conference, Liu Zhenmin.

The deliberations saw the meaningful engagement of all segments of society. Civil society representatives together with corporate leaders, scientists and other partners spotlighted challenges, shared initiatives and recommendations across a myriad of areas, including marine pollution, ocean acidification and preservation of coastal and marine systems.