General Assembly Adopts Resolution Underlining Protection of Ocean Health, as Delegate Calls Declaration Step towards Preserving Planet’s Ecosystem

The General Assembly endorsed the declaration that was adopted in June at the United Nations Ocean Conference, recognizing an inextricable link between the well-being of present and future generations and the health and productivity of the world’s seas.

Adopting the consensus resolution titled Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action (document A/71/L.74), which contained the declaration, the Assembly also expressed gratitude to Fiji and Sweden for co-hosting the inaugural event, held from 5 to 9 June.

Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, describing the Conference, said thousands of participants from across science, civil society, Government multilateral organizations and the private sector had forged a global movement in support of Sustainable Development Goal 14, the ocean Goal.

Global consciousness has now been raised on the ocean’s problems such that we can no longer say we are unaware of the extent of the trouble brought upon the ocean, he said. The Ocean Conference affirmed the deep concern over the effects of human activity on the shared environment, offering further proof that humanity was united behind the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Highlighting three outcomes, he said Conference participants had put forward solutions to problems hampering the state of the ocean, with Governments, the United Nations, businesses and non-governmental organizations outlining remedial actions for realizing Goal 14. The declaration was a firm call for appropriate follow-up on those commitments. Taken together, they offered a massive work plan, he said, noting that Kenya and Portugal had offered to host a second Ocean Conference in 2020 to assess and adjust progress.

Luke Daunivalu (Fiji), associating himself with the Pacific small island developing States, said that, with the call for action, Governments have in our hands the political mandate and road map for fleshing out the indicators under Goal 14. It was a significant step forward for preserving the planet’s ecosystem. We’re well on our way to restoring the oceans’ health, he said, and humanity’s chances of survival. He welcomed States’ high level of engagement, stressing: Our work regarding implementation of Goal 14 has just begun.

Robert Sisilo (Solomon Islands), speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, welcomed that the call for action contained appropriate references to those islands and to least developed countries, and recognized the importance of the Paris Agreement to ensuring the ocean’s health. He pressed delegates to ensure that the political ambition it represented was not lost. This moment is a launching point to ensure that we move towards the full and timely implementation of Goal 14, he said, expressing his anticipation of reviewing progress at next week’s high-level political forum on sustainable development.

The representative of the United States said that, while her country had joined consensus, it did not support the reference to technology transfer in paragraph 12 and disassociated from paragraph 13 (p) referring to World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and special and differential treatment.

Egypt’s delegate said that proceeding effectively required doing so on a solid basis of facts. The language in paragraph 13 (g), however, did not meet that standard and she expressed concern about implying that the cause of invasive alien species was limited to human activity. That was incorrect, as the effects of climate change on the marine environment was another such cause. She, therefore, expressed reservation over that paragraph.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her Government did not agree with the approach to fisheries subsidies outlined in paragraph 13 (p). The issue was sensitive and multifaceted. Expert discussions should be held in WTO, the appropriate body, and the Russian Federation therefore would take a step back from the wording in that paragraph.

Also today, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (document A/71/L.75), by which it adopted the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and targets.

Introducing the text, Brazil’s delegate said the indicator framework was the last step in the first universal development outline in the history of the United Nations. It was flexible and its content would be updated to reflect a changing world.

Mr. Thomson (Fiji) called the framework a critical milestone on the road to 2030, as it would greatly assist decision makers understand which interventions were working, which countries and regions required additional support, and measure the promise of leaving no one behind. To be of maximum value, it must be accompanied by an ambitious capacity-building programme and embrace of innovative tools to support data collection and dissemination.

Mexico’s delegate, in explanation of position, requested that, in future processes, sufficient time be allowed for consultations with Member States. This is an extremely important event, she said, and States must have sufficient lead time to become familiar with such texts.

Switzerland’s delegate said it was crucial that the Statistical Commission refine the indicators in 2020 and 2025. Noting that the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data allowed statisticians to make priorities, she cited the resolution’s acknowledgement that official data from national statistical systems were the basis for the indicator framework, and that non official data could be used when none other was available. The text also highlighted the important relationship between the statistical and political communities, especially during the high-level political forum.

Finally today, the Assembly, on the recommendation of the United Nations Secretary-General, confirmed the appointment of Mukhisa Kituyi as Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for a term beginning on 1 September 2017 and ending on 31 August 2021.

Source: United Nations