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Global Summit Commits to Concrete Actions for Ocean Health and Food Security

Global Summit Commits to Concrete Actions for Ocean Health and Food Security

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High-level gathering focuses on identifying solutions for healthy oceans

A summit that brought together more than 600 ocean stakeholders – including 80 ministers from across the world, ocean science experts, business leaders, philanthropists and heads of international organizations – committed to a set of concrete actions responding to the urgency for restoring productive, resilient oceans that drive broad-based blue growth and deliver food security.

Oyster farming in the Cook Islands. (ADB Photo Library)

Oyster farming in the Cook Islands. (ADB Photo Library)

The Global Oceans Action Summit for Blue Growth and Food Security, held in The Hague, Netherlands, on 22-25 April 2014, is a joint initiative of the Government of the Netherlands, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Bank (WB). The gathering found unprecedented convergence around the urgent steps needed to tackle the key threats to the world’s oceans: climate change, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution.

Actions focused specifically on improving governance, enhancing sustainable financing, building partnerships for action and sharing knowledge on successful solution implementation.

“The world community has shown courage and boldness in The Hague to move ahead and take action on ocean health and food security. What’s needed now is decisive action from the international community to put solutions into practice,” said Sharon Dijksma, Minister for Agriculture of the Netherlands, and Chair of the summit.

The summit called for a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on oceans as part of the post-2015 Development Framework. It also focused on much of the stronger recognition of the escalating impacts from climate change on oceans and ensuring ocean health is incorporated into the international processes and events heading towards the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference of parties in Paris.

Other focus areas were: eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity and instead incentivizing approaches that improve conservation, build sustainable fisheries and end illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; strengthening the mandate of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and their financing and accelerating ratification of agreed mechanisms for improved fisheries practices, better conservation and less pollution, including the Port State Measures Agreement; investing in small and medium scale fisheries and local communities as vital stewards for blue growth and support to sustainable supply chains; building on existing partnerships like the Global Partnership for Oceans, the Global Island Partnership and 50in10 to build global momentum and scale up successes; and sharing of knowledge, experiences and solutions through information and communications technology that can enforce and monitor in real time and connect communities globally.

Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, added, “this summit has put an accent on action and the route to navigate on oceans, fisheries management and aquaculture is much clearer than before.”

World Bank representative Valerie Hickey said, “this summit has presented the way forward for a new type of growth – blue growth which is sustainable, equitable and takes the value of the ocean’s ecosystem services into account. Together, we can restore ocean health at the speed and scale necessary to drive broad-based blue growth, secure food security and turn down the heat on climate change. We have the set of actions needed – let’s move on them now.”

Blue growth

Coming out of the 2012 Rio+20 Conference, the blue economy comprises the food, jobs and opportunities for development provided by ocean and coastal assets.

Blue growth emphasizes conservation and sustainable management of aquatic resources and equitable benefits to the coastal communities that rely on them.

(Story courtesy of FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department)

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