The annual Our Ocean Conference took place in Panama on 2-3 March bringing together government, civil society and business groups to discuss and take action on key ocean issues. Now in its eighth year, the conference has become a major platform for countries to announce new commitments to protect the ocean. This year, participants made 361 commitments worth nearly $20 billion, that included funding for expanding and improving marine protected areas and biodiversity corridors.
A major moment of the conference came from its hosts Panama, who announced they would expand marine protected areas to cover more than 54% of the country’s marine region.
Ocean Panel member countries also lead the charge at the Our Ocean Conference with commitments including:
United Kingdom and Indonesia taking part in a Blue Carbon Action Partnership
The World Economic Forum’s Ocean Action Agenda launched a new initiative, the Blue Carbon Action Partnership (BCAP), at the Our Ocean Conference to help meet the rapidly increasing demand for “blue carbon” credits and projects around the world. The partnership is funded by the UK government and will support governments in working with businesses, communities and civil society organisations to restore, conserve and sustainably manage coastal ecosystems.
At a national scale, BCAP will pilot the creation of country-based National Blue Carbon Action Partnerships (NBCAPs) first with the Indonesian government. NBCAPs convene local stakeholders across sectors and initiatives who have an interest in blue carbon to develop a national roadmap that addresses the country’s specific priorities and catalyses strategic financing.
Green Shipping as a priority for Fiji and USA
The United States of America, the Republic of Fiji, and the Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership announced new cooperation to help establish a green shipping corridor. Green shipping corridors are a key means of spurring the early adoption of zero-emission fuels and technologies to help place the shipping sector significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
Sustainable Ocean Planning in Australia
In the week leading up to the Our Ocean Conference, Australian Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek announced the development of a National Sustainable Ocean Plan. Speaking at the 2023 Ocean Business Leaders’ Summit in Sydney, Minister Plibersek said “[The National Sustainable Ocean Plan] will identify key areas for reform and set out a concrete plan for how we conserve and manage our oceans now and into the future so that we can continue to make the most of our blue economy.” Ocean Panel countries have a shared commitment to develop and implement sustainable ocean plans which can guide countries in their ambition to transition to a sustainable ocean economy.
Mexico and Jamaica committing to the Port State Measures Agreement
On the eve of the conference, the Government of Mexico ratified the Port State measures Agreement following Jamaica’s move to ratify the agreement in the coming months. Once ratified, these country commitments will mean that all members of the Ocean Panel will commit to the first legally binding international agreement to tackle IUU fishing.
Martha Delgado, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The Mexican Senate approved the Agreement on Port State Measures aimed at preventing, deterring, and eliminating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing. In this way, the Government of Mexico reaffirms its commitment to the sustainable management of our living marine resources and the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, prioritizing the well-being of the coastal fishing communities so as not to leave anyone behind.”
Canada combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
The Our Ocean Conference proved a significant opportunity for Canada to engage with partners and advance international efforts to combat IUU fishing. They welcomed seven new members to the IUU-Action Alliance they established in collaboration with the United Kingdom and United States last year building upon Canada’s dedication to detecting and deterring IUU fishing activity, with a view to protecting fish stocks, marine ecosystems, and the livelihoods coastal communities.
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