Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability

2011-11-01 AOSIS representative Download PDF

Topic: Oceans

The Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability, otherwise
known as the Blue Paper, launched here today in Paris, and produced as
a result of a collaboration between our hosts, UNESCO, as well as other
instrumental agencies including the UNDP, FAO, IOC and IMO
provides an excellent guide for approaching discussions on oceans
management within the context of sustainable development – especially
leading up to next June’s Rio+20 meeting whose themes of 1) green
economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty
eradication and 2) institutional strengthening for sustainable
development are critical to the development of small island developing
It is indeed an honour to address this important side event and
endorse the much needed focus on oceans for Rio+20 on behalf of the
Alliance of Small Island States, in place of Her Excellency Ambassador
Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United
Nations and Chair of AOSIS – an outspoken, dedicated and consistent
advocate for the improvement of oceans management especially as it
relates to bringing about the critical changes necessary to protect our
ecologically and economically fragile and climate vulnerable islands. It
is imperative that we all recognize that for SIDS, our oceans are not just
what define us geographically but also what define us culturally, socially
and economically. We cannot advance toward a sustainable
developmental agenda without advocating for the improvement of
oceans management.
The IPCC fourth assessment report warns of the projected
destructive impacts of further increasing climate globally – stressing
especially the grave and devastating projected impacts of a 2 – 4 degrees
C increase in global temperature on those most vulnerable nations whose
livelihoods and culture are dependent on the water that surrounds them.
Those most vulnerable nations are the susceptible developing small
islands of the world – our home – the unique oceans based nations,
whose traditions of fishing, tropical agriculture, cultural tourism, coastal
living and whose own existence – is currently challenged and will
continue to be severely challenged by rising seas, elevated temperatures
and increased vulnerability to more intense natural disasters.
Bear in mind that not only do have we had to deal with the
devastating impacts of global warming in recent years but also the
negative backlash of the global financial crisis which has crippled some
of our economies and afflicted us with high unemployment and poverty!
Today we would like to highlight the urgent need for action and
the importance of approaching sustainable development within a
multidimensional framework that considers the threats of climate change
(especially as it relates to our oceans) and sees that the mandates of
climate change adaptation and sustainable development is absorbed into
the national developmental objectives of all our islands. Thus, as we
revisit our progress towards integrating sustainability into our national
development at Rio, I’d like to share with you what we’ve accomplished
as SIDS, what we still need to accomplish and major gaps in our
preparation for increasing our resilience and adapting to climate change
alongside incorporating sustainability into our developmental mandates.
The roadmap for transitioning our development to include key
sustainable elements is defined by the objectives of the 1994 Barbados
Plan of Action and the 2005 Mauritius Strategy. Emphasis was placed
on the need to establish, strengthen and reform policy on coastal zone
management, improve scientific and research analysis on marine and
coastal environments, develop and implement comprehensive
monitoring for coastal and oceans ecosystems and strengthen both
national capacity and necessary assistance to SIDS. Section IV of the
Mauritius Strategy further calls for the need to develop sustainable,
responsible fisheries together with effective monitoring, reporting and
enforcement, as well as the importance of necessary financial and
technical assistance from the international community to improve
technical and expert capacity. Finally Section IV stresses the importance
of regional and international collaboration in oceans monitoring and the
critical need to establish a regional network of marine protected areas.
Since reaffirming our commitments to improving our sustainable
mandates via the Mauritius Strategy, according to the comprehensive
report, ‘Oceans and Rio+20’, published by the Global Oceans Forum, a
contributor to the Blue Paper, 100% of SIDS have ratified the UNFCCC
Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention of Biological
Diversity and 95% of SIDS have ratified UNCLOS – Internationally we
have shown our commitment.
63% of SIDS have developed National Sustainable Development
Plans and 40% have developed initiatives for integrated coastal
management – with 7% having enacted National Coastal Zone Acts –
Nationally we have recognized the importance of a sustainable agenda
yet we still fall short of implementation.
29% of SIDS have enacted legislation on watershed planning and
27% of SIDS have developed specific institutions and mechanisms for
the coordination of coastal and oceans management – We have
improved our institutional framework yet more work needs to be done.
Most disturbing is that only 10% of SIDS have produced an
assessment on the socio-economic impact of sea-level rise and climate
change and 32% have early warning systems for disasters in place –
While we’ve recognized the threats we face we have yet to put in place
effective monitoring and necessary analysis to protect against future
disasters. This indeed is a terrifying fact! Not only are we still without
the necessary legislative and institutional framework to address critical
developmental issues, we have yet to implement the necessary steps to
protect, adapt and increase our resilience – in other words we have yet to
take aggressive and timely action!
Due to our current limitations, the overall extent of efforts and
progress by SIDS in readying their nations for the impacts of climate
change and sustainable development have been described as “medium”
and goals reached as having “some delay.”
For SIDS, this slow paced or “medium” approach to incorporating
sustainable mandates into our national development initiatives is directly
related to critical insufficiencies, which we continue to address –
however it is important to point out that we cannot address them on our
own. These insufficiencies include:
• Inadequate institutional support to institute necessary policy,
enforcement and compliance,
• Lack of capacity – specifically technical and expert capacity,
• Lack of adequate necessary training and education,
technologies and knowledge transfer and access to adequate
• Inability to benefit from resources within our Exclusive
Economic Zone
Unless we remedy these key issues SIDS will continue to lack the
supportive crutch necessary to allow us to move forward and ensure our
survival. We therefore call on the international community to continue to
assist us in bridging those gaps by following through on your financing,
technology and knowledge transfer, capacity building and emissions
reductions pledges!
In preparation for Rio+20 many have called on the approach to a
green economy, including the Blue Paper, which, states that by
definition, a green economy “fully internalizes the externalities of
environmental degradation into the prices of goods and services,” and
that any transition toward a green economy requires a merging of
physical, behavioral and institutional changes. AOSIS supports the
proposal made by the Blue Paper that any concepts of sustainable
development or green economy must incorporate oceans. Additionally
we welcome all proposals that assist in promoting “green tourism” or
eco – tourism as a poverty eradication mechanism. We believe that
especially for our island nations, tourism is key in allowing us to
accomplish the goals of conservation, protection and adaptation via
sustainable development and climate adaptation initiatives while
injecting much needed vitality into our economic sectors and helping us
satisfy our Millennium Development Goals!
The Blue Paper echoes the statement made recently in New York
by Mr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UN World Tourism
Organization, who sees the economic significance of tourism to SIDS
and its ability to have a multiplier effect in the stimulation of other
sectors. Mr. Rifai stressed the need for SIDS to anchor tourism within
local communities and institute local policies that promote national
investment and ensure that what is created by SIDS benefits SIDS.
We support the objective of the Blue Paper to “contribute to the
international debate on oceans” by providing expert opinion and
presenting options and important proposals:
• We acknowledge that the key issues affecting ocean
sustainability include unsustainable fishing, climate change
and ocean acidification, pollution and waste, loss of habitats
and biodiversity and introduction of invasive species within
SIDS – We’d like the international community to
acknowledge that SIDS is ready to take advantage of the
social, environmental and economic incentives of a
sustainable or “green” fishing industry within an improved
oceans management framework especially as it assists in
poverty alleviation and combating malnutrition.
• We also acknowledge that more attention should be placed
on the need for additional research on the impacts of ocean
acidification for SIDS. While much attention has been
placed on the atmospheric impacts of greenhouse gases we
support the focus by the Blue Paper to highlight the
additional detrimental impacts of greenhouse gases absorbed
by the ocean.
• SIDS face the constant battle over ways to develop their
coastal lands for economic gain and a focus on the detriment
of habitat loss such as mangroves and sea grasses should
continually be re-emphasized.
• We support the acknowledgement of the role of science and
technology in sustainable development.
• We welcome the proposals on how the private sector can
assist us in achieving our objectives and the emphasis on the
role of tourism in “greening: our economy. Finally,
• We support the strengthening of governance and institutional
In conclusion, I’d like to thank UNESCO and partners for their
efforts in recognizing the developmental gaps within SIDS and
presenting the proposals put forth in the Blue Paper that focus on
bridging those gaps. It is important that as we prepare for Rio+20 that
we not only do so with Oceans being prominent on the agenda but that
we come prepared with solid proposals to address our most significant
problems. It is our job as AOSIS to inform the international community
at Rio that without addressing the current gaps in our progress we are
unable to move forward. We therefore need our voices to be heard! For
SIDS – it is time to take assertive action!
I implore the international community to respond by endorsing the
emphasis of a focus on oceans for Rio+20 and recognizing your
responsibility to assist SIDS in protecting our unique cultures, richly
diverse ecosystems and resilient population within an environment –
rendered ecologically fragile by anthropogenic influence!
I thank you!

Sub Topic: Blue Economy

Forum: None

Meeting: UNESCO General Conference