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Top Ocean Moments at COP28

COP28 has come to a close. What were the most influential moments for the ocean and a sustainable ocean economy?

Dec 14, 2023

COP28 negotiations in Dubai ended early on the morning of 13 December, as countries agreed on a new deal to tackle climate change. For the first time, fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) are mentioned in the text which states that countries will “contribute… to transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just orderly and equitable manner”.  

Immediately following the passing of the agreement, COP28 President Sultan al-Jabar offered remarks saying the deal offers a “comprehensive response” to climate change representing a “robust action plan to keep 1.5°C in reach.” 

This announcement followed 2 weeks of events, commitments and negotiations, with the ocean continuing to gain prominence within UNFCCC process. Over the 2 weeks the ocean featured in the thematic agenda, there was the largest ocean pavilion to date, and the agreed text invited parties to “to preserve and restore oceans and coastal ecosystems and scale up, as appropriate, ocean-based mitigation action.”  


Additional top ocean moments included:  

    • Scaling offshore wind development 
    • Decarbonising shipping industry 
    • Safeguarding the Arctic 
    • Bolstering strategic ocean diplomacy 
    • Scaling community-lead action in the Global South 
    • Advancing ocean carbon research 
    • Expanding habitat restoration and conservation efforts 
  • Joint Declaration on ocean and climate action —the 18 countries of the Ocean Panel were joined by the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States in launching a joint declaration that recognises the urgent need to sustainably manage 100% of the ocean under national jurisdictions. The Declaration also urges countries around the world to join in scaling up ocean-based climate solutions and to safeguard the long-term health and resilience of the ocean. 
  •  Rapid Assistance Fund — Ocean Action 2030 launched a grant finance initiative aimed at supporting countries in the development and implementation of national Sustainable Ocean Plans. Sustainable Ocean Plans, as championed by the Ocean Panel are key tools in enabling national governments to build a sustainable ocean economy. These plans provide a blueprint for decision-makers to sustainably manage 100% of the ocean under their national jurisdictions, ensuring long-term economic and social development while protecting marine ecosystems and provide a vehicle for accelerating climate action.  
  • Pacific nations announced the Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity Plan, which will aim to sustainably manage 100% of the Pacific Ocean and effectively protect 30% of it, making it one of the world’s largest conservation efforts. This will be supported by $125 million  from the GEF and $100 million from the Bezos Earth Fund. 
  • Countries, ports, and shipping companies made more than 50 announcements towards decarbonising shipping under the Desafío de transporte marítimo ecológico. 
  • 30 countries joined the UAE and Indonesia’s Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)which promotes the protection and restoration of mangroves as a nature-based solution to climate change, bringing the total up from 7 countries when it was launched at COP27 and  covering more than 60 percent of the world’s mangroves. 
  • 21 countries formally endorsed the Mangrove Breakthrough, securing momentum to restore and protect 15 million hectares of mangroves globally.  
  • Nature Solutions Hub for Asia and the Pacific — The Asian Development Bank, through the Nature Solutions Hub for Asia and the Pacific will launch the Nature Solutions Finance (NSF) Hub consisting of $2 Billion in funding to support nature-based climate actions and biodiversity conservation.  

Additional positive commitments to benefit people and nature included:  

  • $186.6 million of new financing was pledged for nature and climate towards forests, mangroves, and the ocean that builds on those made during COP28’s World Climate Action Summit (WCAS) where $2.5 billion was mobilised to protect and restore nature. 
  • $2.5 billion was committed to support the food-climate agenda, with over 130 countries supporting the ‘Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture.’ The declaration states that tackling climate change must involve addressing agriculture and food systems, which contribute one-fourth to one-third of global greenhouse gases.  
  • The new Loss and Damage Fund to help vulnerable countries negatively impacted by climate change was approved by delegates from nearly 200 countries. 



For a full list of commitments taken at this year’s COP28, visit: 

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