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Pacific Ocean Commissioner Dame Meg Taylor: Our ocean demands transformative action

Suva, Fiji (March 16) – The Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Dame Meg Taylor, has called for transformative change in the way the Pacific Ocean is managed to ensure a sustainable future for Pacific peoples.

Speaking at the Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting Towards the Ocean Conference in Suva yesterday (March 15), Dame Meg acknowledged the work done so far, as the region prepares for the United Nations Conference on Oceans which takes place in June, underlining the importance of partnerships and the alignment of governance structures.

“A strong enabling environment including tracking the region’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal on Oceans (SDG 14), improving development effectiveness, having strong public financial management for ocean financing, a strong private sector and resilient infrastructure are underpinning imperatives,” Dame Meg said.

“Such transformative change needs to be in our attitudes and approaches for sustainable outcomes. Effective partnerships will be a vital way forward for delivery of SDG14. There is a need to more clearly articulate what partnerships and what features of those partnerships are necessary for an integrated and coordinated approach to SDG14 in our region.

“More critical thinking is needed in the region about the role, longevity and accountability of partnerships and of networks. We need to be discerning and embrace and elaborate more effective strategic partnerships in order to strengthen our ability to deliver on SDG14.

“We need to be mindful of the inextricable links between the Ocean and Climate. While they provide the assets and connectivity in our sea of islands, they also provide hazards and risks that increase our vulnerabilities and threaten our lives and property.”

The Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy (PIROP) was endorsed by Pacific Island Forum Leaders in 2002; it envisions a healthy ocean, including the adjacent high seas, that sustains the livelihoods and aspirations of Pacific island countries and communities.

Forum Leaders then developmed the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape (FPO) in 2009, to promote the implementation of PIROP. In 2015 and 2016, Forum Leaders again recognised the Ocean as a priority when they issued the Palau Declaration on The Ocean: Life and Future and the Pohnpei Ocean Statement – A Course to Sustainability.

The alignment of provisions of the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape as an integrated ocean management approach, with national and other regional instruments will bring rapid benefits. This however, Dame Meg pointed out, would require a clear appreciation of the links between regional ocean policy and sector-based policies such as for fisheries, energy, transport and tourism.

Dame Meg said the Pacific should be proud of its active participation in shaping the 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway, and the Pacific’s global leadership in championing climate change action and ocean governance and management to support delivery of sustainable development for all our people.

“The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world’s oceans; it connects our sea of islands and connects us to the world. Our reliance on the ocean means that sustainable ocean management must be a priority for our Small Island Developing States.”

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