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Heads of Government Unite for the Ocean and People Who Depend on It

Sep 25, 2018
Source: Ocean Panel


12 world leaders form new High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy

NEW YORK (SEPTEMBER 24, 2018) — A group of world leaders came together in New York City today to form a panel that will assess the value of Ocean goods and services in economic planning and support the sustainable use of Ocean resources. Co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg and President of the Republic of Palau Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr., the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy consists of 12 heads of government and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. This marks the first time serving heads of government have joined forces on a global pact to protect the world’s Ocean.

Goods and services from the Ocean amount to about US$2.5 trillion each year—an amount expected to double by 2030. The Ocean supports a multitude of industries, including fishing, shipping, transportation, energy generation and tourism, and is of increasing interest to mining and biomedical companies. The Ocean feeds 3 billion people, who depend on the sea for their primary source of protein.

Speaking at the Panel’s first meeting, Co-Chair and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: “We are dependent on a clean and healthy Ocean, and all use of marine resources must be sustainable. As the only Ocean policy body consisting of serving world leaders, we have the authority and determination needed to trigger and accelerate action for Ocean protection and production. We need to find common solutions – to develop and implement comprehensive, effective regulation and an integrated Ocean management regime. This is truly a test of our ability to deliver a healthier planet and Ocean to the next generation.”

The Ocean is in danger—pollution, overfishing, microplastics, rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching put the Ocean economy and the people who depend on it at risk.

With 80% of people living within 100km of the Ocean and three-quarters of the world’s mega-cities by the sea, as much as 40% of the Ocean is already heavily affected by pollution, depleted fisheries, loss of coastal habitats and other human activities. In fact, should practices not change within 10 years, experts project that the Ocean will contain an estimated 1kg of plastic for every 3kg of fish.

Co-Chair and President of the Republic of Palau Tommy Remengesau, Jr. said: “For Palau, the Ocean is at the center of our life, culture, and identity. Its capacity to provide for our needs is immense, but it is not without limits. Humanity must learn the lessons of small islands and respect our Ocean, or we risk losing many of its gifts for good.”

The Panel is made up of leaders from Australia, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal.

Panel leaders will also work to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by emphasizing the fundamental role that a sustainable Ocean economy must play in achieving sustainable development.

Over the next 18 months, the Panel will commission research on evidence-based solutions to the Ocean crisis and how to address it. This will include a series of “Blue Papers” by global experts exploring issues such as sustainable fisheries, Ocean-based energy solutions and tourism, as well as new approaches to Marine Protected Areas and Ocean finance. The papers will inform an action-oriented report to be released in 2020.

The panel will pursue three overarching goals:

• A shared understanding of the relationship between the Ocean and the economy;

• A recognition that economic production and Ocean protection must be mutually supporting—the world must “produce and protect,” striking a balance between use and conservation of the Ocean; and

• A suite of innovations in policy, governance, markets and incentives that will align robust economic development with protection of the underlying natural capital of the Ocean.

A Secretariat—led by World Resources Institute—will support the High Level Panel’s activities, including research, engagement, and communications.


Please see below for statements from all heads of state and government who are members of the High Level Panel.

For more information, visit www.oceanpanel.org.

For more information and interviews, please contact:

Patricia Roy, Patricia@communicationsinc.co.uk, tel: +34 696 90 59 07

Lauren Zelin, Lzelin@wri.org, tel: +1 202-729-7736


About World Resources Institute

WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the United States and more. Our experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. Learn more at www.wri.org


Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia

“Our future prosperity is closely linked to the health of the ocean, and the establishment of the High Level Panel comes at a critical time. Australia shares the Panel’s interest in building a sustainable ocean economy that supports a clean, heathy ocean environment.”

President Sebastián Piñera, Chile

“In the vision Chile has of its Ocean, we endeavour to take into account: Sustainability to protect and conserve it; Consciousness of its social and economic resources; Safety for the activities that take place in it; Education about the natural laboratory for scientific research that it represents; Inspiration from this cultural heritage and identity and more Awareness regarding natural disasters and the impact of human activities. “ (Vision established in the National Oceanic Policy of Chile, approved in March 2018)

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Republic of Fiji

“Our oceans would be in trouble even if the world’s climate was not changing—from overfishing, pollution, acidification and the sheer weight of human exploitation. But the interaction of ocean ecology and climate change is so profound and so intimate that we cannot attempt to solve the crisis of one without confronting the crisis of the other.”

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Republic of Ghana

“Amid an ever-growing global population, the cost of inaction on the challenges that confront the ocean economy without a shred of a doubt will be huge. Failure to act now could have catastrophic economic, environmental and human consequences over the medium-term.”

President Joko Widodo, Republic of Indonesia

“As the largest archipelagic state, the ocean is very important to Indonesia. The ocean is embodied with our nation’s history and culture. It is also an important source of economy, social activities, climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as biodiversity. We highly appreciate Prime Minister of Norway for establishing the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. We are honored to be part of the Panel. Indonesia hopes that the Panel will produce a substantial outcome and recommendations, and develop a global action plan for a sustainable ocean economy, for the benefit of us all and our future generations.”

Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness, Jamaica

“The Ocean truly connects all of us, it provides life and livelihood. The opportunities from the ocean are immeasurable, however the risks posed from its continued abuse are frightening. Jamaica is a prime example of this. We face the risks that all SIDS face because of climate change, and stand to gain immensely from improvements in ocean health. As such we are committed to all initiatives which contribute to Ocean health. We are also very happy to be a part of this High Level Panel, and expect that the solutions arrived at will be achievable, and measurable.”

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Japan

“The High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy contributes to the achievements of SDGs such as Goal 14, and I would like to highly commend Prime Minister Solberg for taking on this initiative. This Panel’s discussion should focus on strictly enforcing the rule of law in the ocean and harmonizing ocean use and science-based conservation of the oceans. The three issues that should be addressed at the panel are the problems of marine plastic litter, the effect of climate change on the oceans, and tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Among these issues, measures to address the problem of marine plastic litter can no longer wait. Japan would like to contribute to the global community, using our technologies and expertise on this issue. As Chair of the G20 Osaka Summit next year, I would like to announce that the Summit will feature Ocean Plastic Wastes on the agenda. At the Osaka Summit, Japan would like to announce an initiative for effective measures to tackle this problem, and drive global measures to help resolve this issue.”

President Enrique Peña Nieto, United Mexican States

“The actions that we take to preserve our oceans are a moral imperative because we owe them to future generations. These measures are both socially and economically needed, since they respond to the immediate interest of our communities, and create development opportunities and welfare for our countries.”

President Hage Gottfried Geingob, Republic of Namibia

“In line with Article 95(l) of our Constitution, Namibia is committed to utilize our ocean’s natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future. This is a blue circular economy principle, which is in line with SDG 14, and which we are committed to fulfill.

Prime Minister António Costa, Portugal

“More than 97% of Portugal’s territory is Ocean. It holds the promise of immense resource wealth and great potential for boosting economic growth, employment and innovation. Realizing the full potential of the ocean will therefore demand responsible, sustainable approaches to its economic development, based on high quality science and good regulation. There is no plan B for a sustainable ocean policy, pragmatic, that delivers solid and practical results!”

UNSG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson, emphasized the importance of the High Level Panel’s work in restoring humanity’s relationship with the Ocean to one of respect and balance. “SDG14 calls for conservation and sustainable use of the Ocean’s resources,” he said. “The High Level Panel will guide us towards the right balance between protection, production and prosperity.”

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