(PIF-HQ, Suva, Monday 21st June,2021) – Sea-level rise and its impacts were the focus of the 21st Meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (ICP21) from 14 – 18 June 2021. The meeting heard of the ongoing impacts for Pacific nations, and their search for solutions.
In pursuit of Forum Leaders’ commitments relating to sea-level rise and maritime zones, Members participated in this multilateral forum to raise the importance of preserving maritime claims established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 LOSC), and to learn from the perspectives shared by other regions of the globe.
Tuvalu as Pacific Islands Forum Chair, and other Forum Members, including Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga, delivered statements at the various platforms of this virtual meeting.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna is pleased to note the co-chairmanship of the 21st Meeting by Tonga’s Ambassador Viliami Va’inga Tone alongside Ambassador Isabelle Picco of Monaco, who were appointed in January 2021 by the President of the UN General Assembly. This further demonstrates the significance of the topic of sea-level rise and its impacts to our region.
SG Puna is also grateful that the Forum Secretariat was able to support the efforts of Members at the meeting, with the participation of Deputy Secretary General Dr Filimon Manoni on the panel of expert presenters. .
Secretary General Puna agreed that the theme “comes at an important time for all our Forum Members”, emphasising the leadership of the Pacific Islands Forum Members in actively taking steps to remain at the forefront of global and regional oceans governance initiatives, driven by their collective desire to protect and preserve the health and resilience of the Pacific Ocean, and to secure maritime interests and entitlements.
He remarked that “while we should continue to pursue solutions through these open-ended informal processes, we must not lose sight of the importance and centrality of the 1982 LOSC, as the appropriate multilateral legal framework under which we should carry out our work, including our responses to the issue of sea-level rise”.
At his panel presentation, Dr Manoni reiterated the importance of the Convention in terms of responses to the issue, and the Leaders’ commitment to undertake collaborative effort at national, regional and multilateral levels to ensure that Members’ maritime claims established under the Convention do not suffer in any way, shape or form, or any derogation whatsoever, in the face of sea-level rise,” he said.
Collective efforts by Members on these issues are being advanced through a dedicated Specialist Sub-Committee of the Forum established in 2020 to take forward Leaders decisions relating to securing the Blue Pacific Continent against sea-level rise and climate change—ENDS.
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