Prime Minister, Minister, Excellencies
Members of the Diplomatic corps
Representatives of regional and international organisations
Ladies and gentleman
It is an honour to participate in this event on behalf of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, alongside such an accomplished and diverse panel of speakers.
The Pacific governance and policy landscape
In our Pacific Islands Ocean Region, the ocean unites and divides, connects and separates, sustains and threatens our very survival. There is a deep-held immutable link between the ocean and Pacific peoples, which provides a uniqueness and vitality to our stewardship and responsibilities that not only covers the areas within the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundaries, but includes marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).
Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) have over the last several decades committed to a plethora of policy and legal agreements and frameworks at national, regional and international levels that relate to, and have implications for, the sustainable development and use of the islands, coasts, seas and ocean within the region.
Of key relevance are the ratification of multi-lateral environmental and management agreements and the endorsement of companion regional policy instruments for the sea, biological diversity, climate change pollution and fisheries; as well as endorsement of more encompassing frameworks for sustainable development such as the Johannesburg Programme of Action, the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, and more recently in 2014 the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, which are complemented by regional instruments such as the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP, 2016) the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy (PIROP, 2002), the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape (FPO, 2010), the Palau Declaration – the Ocean: Life and Future(2014), and the Pohnpei Ocean Statement – a Course to Sustainability (2016).
There is strong resonance between SDG14 and the Region’s ocean policy, with strategic actions of the PIROP (2002) including improving capacity, strengthening partnerships as well as prioritising information needs and co-operative mechanisms, and the FPO (2010) envisioning ‘a secure future for Pacific Island Countries and Territories based on sustainable development, management and conservation of our Ocean’, and with a strategic priority on “Listening, Learning, Liaising and Leading” which calls for improved and more carefully targeted use of knowledge, information and enhanced capacity, which cuts across the SDG14 agenda.
The Palau Declaration on “The Ocean: Life and Future” stresses the convergence of efforts to improve the well-being of our Pacific people through sustainable ocean management, and the need for “integrated and mixed management approaches” which inculcates a holistic vision including jurisdictional rights, fostering good ocean governance, encouraging sustained action and facilitating adaptation to a rapidly changing environment.
Within these high-level, regional approaches there sit strong and connected sector policies such as the Future of Fisheries Roadmap and the New Song for Coastal Fisheries with relevant SDG14 targets.
Good ocean governance and strong coordination arrangements, within the multiple and nested regional policy frameworks has long been recognized. The FPO (2010) called for a strengthening of the regional institutional framework for ocean governance and policy coordination by establishing a Pacific Ocean Commissioner, with professional support, to provide the necessary high level representation and commitment urgently required to ensure dedicated advocacy and attention to ocean priorities, decisions and processes at national, regional and international levels.
The incumbent Pacific Ocean Commissioner (POC) is supported by the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC) which was set-up in late 2014.
The POC facilitates the Pacific Ocean Alliance (POA), an open-ended network of government, non-government, private sector and civil society organisations launched in 2014, to advance coordinated and cooperative approaches towards integrated ocean management, including for the High Seas.
The Leaders Pohnpei Ocean Statement: A Course to Sustainability, from 2016, reinforces the coordinating role of the POC and calls on OPOC and POA to provide the necessary technical, financial and administrative support to countries’ implementation of SDG14.
In addition, the Statement reaffirms the leadership, advocacy and facilitative role of a Pacific Ocean Commissioner.
In 2016, the Sustainable Ocean Initiative and the Pacific Ocean Alliance held a regional integrated ocean governance workshop for the Pacific Islands Region in Samoa. The workshop noted the wide range of stakeholders and interests involved in ocean governance, including conservation-focused.
It also noted the silo-ing between sectoral approaches such as fisheries management, and the more holistic integrated ocean governance as put forward by the Framework on Pacific Oceanscape which would include whole domain management. Emerging from the workshop was a need for more integrated thinking and doing; this is maybe the key challenge to progressing large scale and integrated ocean management.
Towards integrated and domain-scale management
SDG14 for the region offers a catalyst for change, and an opportunity to integrate further and to upscale efforts towards sustainable management. However, there is a need to deliver SDG14 in a way that delivers sustainable prosperity for Pacific people and enhances the Blue Pacific approach.
Work at OPOC has tried to analyse the cross-links between the SDG14 targets and to cross-link SDG14 with the other SDGs for the Pacific region. The conclusion of this analysis reinforces the “indivisibility” of SDGs as outlined in Agenda 2030.
However, these linkages are not all equal: some are strong, some are weak, some are negative. This outcome mirrors the outcomes of a just published report by the International Council of Science – which was described during a side–event yesterday – which notes that understanding these interaction are key to unlocking the potential of SDGs.
The nature of this web of SDG interactions must also be dependent on the scale at which you look at the marine environment, from bays to the whole region.
Thus, as management approaches move towards the whole domain, a deeper appreciation of the integrated nature and interconnectedness of systems is required. This needs a change in the rather fragmented nature of business-as-usual and also a need for further examples of leadership, learning and innovation to be advanced and developed.