Vital to our survival and providing livelihoods for millions of people, the Ocean is severely threatened by climate change, pollution and unsustainable practices. The United Nations held a five-day conference on the Ocean from 5-9 June to address these issues and, at the end of the Conference, Member States adopted a Call to Action to protect the ocean.
In February, the IPU and the United Nations held an Annual Parliamentary Hearing that focused on the ocean. The hearing provided a parliamentary component to the preparatory process for the conference; several of its recommendations were included in the Call to Action. The UN document asks parliamentarians, as stakeholders, to help integrate Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water) and its interrelated targets into national development plans.
“This conference has helped raise awareness of the ocean, and the need to act as part of the Sustainable Development Goals”, said Paddy Torsney, IPU Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, addressing the conference. “In particular, it has brought the issue closer to the hearts and minds of parliamentarians all over the world. At the end of the day, parliamentarians are first in line to adopt the laws, approve regulatory changes, and make budgetary allocations that are required to advance SDG 14 and the Call to Action.”
In the Call to Action, countries acknowledged “the need to address the adverse impacts that impair the crucial ability of the ocean to act as climate regulator, source of marine biodiversity and as key provider of food and nutrition, tourism and ecosystem services and as an engine for sustainable economic development and growth”. It recognized the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement.