The Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Milner Tozaka has called for a stronger commitment by partners and stakeholders of the United Nations’ Ocean Conference towards improving linkages between local, national, regional and international frameworks on oceans’ conservation.
Minister Tozaka made the call in his statement at the first ever UN Summit on Oceans in New York last week where some 6000 delegates convened to discuss the challenges facing the world’s oceans.
“I call on all partners and stakeholders for a stronger commitment to improve linkages between local, national, regional and international frameworks on oceans conservation management.”
“We must invest in our Ocean. In particular, we need investments in science and research in order to better understand the capacity of our Ocean to provide for our future, including the need to understand and build resilience against ocean acidification.”
“We will also need capacity building and the transfer of appropriate, modern and environmentally sound technologies. We call on the international community and partners, including the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, to ensure that transfer of relevant marine and ocean technologies to SIDS are realized under an appropriate framework. “
He also called for stronger public-private partnership to improve the issue of linkages, saying that genuine and durable partnerships are the key to unlocking the knowledge and the finances needed to meet SDG14.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade said the summit marked a significant milestone for the United Nations in the era of the SDGs and commended its focus to achieving the targets set out in Sustainable Development Goal 14.
He welcomed the summit’s Call to Action which underscores the strong political will to address measures that address the deteriorating health of our ocean and its resources, saying that, “ Concrete action on the ground should now be our measure for success.”
Minister Tozaka said Solomon Islands along with its neighbouring Pacific Island states fully understand that the Ocean and marine life are their most important resources and they cut across the three dimensions of sustainable development.
“Solomon Islands along with its Pacific neighbours know that we are stewards of the largest expanse of Ocean in the world and its bountiful resource base. The ocean space under our collective jurisdiction is not only important to us. These spaces and their resources have a global significance as well.”
As such, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade said the Pacific region boasts a number of regional and sub-regional marine and ocean-related frameworks which are a testament of the region’s commitment to improving governance on ocean and marine life issues.
He said these frameworks remain relevant today and their implementation will also complement the UN Sustainable Development Goal14 (SDG14), which emphasises the conservation and sustainable of the oceans, seas and marine resources.
He said great challenges remain before the Pacific, from collapsing fisheries and plastic pollution to ocean warming and ocean acidification.
Minister Tozaka said these challenges threaten the integrity of the marine ecosystems around the world and survival and prosperity cannot be guaranteed if the destruction to the oceans’ natural capital is not reversed.
He added that the burden of conserving the oceans’ resources should not disproportionately fall on the Pacific and on that note called for the continued support from development partners to share the burden associated with effective implementation.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade said at the national level, Solomon Islands policy approach on ocean governance is guided by the government’s National Development Strategy 2016-2035.
He said the Solomon Islands government is working on developing a national ocean governance framework aimed at rationalising and enhancing coordination as well as implementation of all ocean related legislations.
Minister Tozaka said this framework is spearheaded by Oceans 12 which is made up of our Government’s leading ministries responsible for the management of the ocean space that surround our country and marine life that occur therein.
He said in our efforts to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, Solomon Islands, as a member of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, has employed the purse seine Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) to monitor fishing efforts within its waters.
Minister Tozaka added that as a member of the Coral Triangle Initiative, Solomon Islands has been implementing a coordinated approach to marine and coastal management with the leadership of its government which focuses on people-centered natural resource management.
He said Solomon Islands with the support of the Forum Fisheries Agency utilised the Vessel Monitoring System to undertake monitoring, control and surveillance activities within its Exclusive Economic Zone.
The weeklong Ocean Summit concluded with the adoption by consensus of a 14-point Call for Action which the participating Heads of State and Government and senior representatives affirmed strong commitment to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources tor sustainable development.
The main points from the political document and the summit discussions will be part of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN’s central body for follow-up and review of the 2030 for Sustainable Development and SDGs adopted in September 2015. The HLPF is scheduled to meet next month in New York.