The world’s MPs have called for decisive actions to stem the serious decline in the health of the oceans.
The theme of this year’s Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations in New York, which took place from 13-14 February, was A world of blue: Preserving the oceans, safeguarding the planet, ensuring human well-being in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Jointly organized by IPU and the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly, the meeting brought together around 200 MPs from across the globe to advance parliamentary action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14: the conservation and sustainable use of oceans.
H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly, set the challenge and warned about the consequences of ignoring the decline of the world’s oceans. “To put it bluntly, without a healthy and sustainable ocean, humanity’s place on this planet will be in jeopardy.” He noted the invaluable role of parliamentarians in reversing the situation. “Your leadership in introducing policies and establishing legal frameworks will be critical in driving efforts to restore the sustainability of the ocean.”
IPU President Saber Chowdhury also emphasized MPs’ role in preserving oceans, saying that the hearing provided “a golden opportunity for parliamentarians to understand the many issues that affect the oceans—such as climate change, pollution, and overfishing—and share concerns and best practice”. He exhorted fellow MPs to pay more attention to this ecosystem that many take for granted on the false assumption that it can always regenerate itself.
Participants concluded that action to protect the oceans boils down to laws, rules and regulations that are well within their power to affect. These include establishing marine sanctuaries, regulating the fishing industry to protect artisanal fishing, banning plastic bags and Styrofoam, preventing all kinds of waste from going into the sea and imposing strict CO2 emission cuts.
IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong reminded participants that the recently launched IPU toolkit produced in collaboration with UNDP, Parliaments and the Sustainable Development Goals, would “help parliaments assess their capacities to mainstream the SDGs through national legislation”.
IPU-UN parliamentary hearings enable MPs to contribute to the work of the UN and international decision-making processes, as well as increase their understanding of these processes.