Fiji calls for international ocean action: the Ocean Pathway Partnership
It is a powerful symbol: Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for Ocean, introduces the launch of the Ocean Pathway Partnership and calls governments around the world for a common action on the protection of oceans. The ocean is a source of adaptation and mitigation solutions: this assessment remains crucial to face climate change and to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as defined in the Paris Agreement.
As a matter of fact, the ocean’s place is increasingly taken into account in the framework of the UNFCCC process. As Patricia Ricard (Vice-President of the Ocean and Climate Platform, OCP) said, one just has to look at the evolution of the logos from COP21 to COP23 to notice that the blue color prevails gradually over green.
“The Ocean is the fundament in which we exist, everybody has to get involved”
– Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for Ocean
It is with this objective in mind that Fiji decided to bring this initiative to the COP23 center stage, in order to initiate a new kind of ocean governance. This partnership, supported and co-organised by the Ocean and Climate Platform, aims to involve the decision-makers by promoting the adhesion of Parties and stakeholders to a collective effort to bring ocean into UNFCCC processes and sustain action.
By placing partnerships at the center of the fight against climate change, the Ocean Pathway Partnership represents a means to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and especially the SDG14 related to a sustainable ocean management. As Mr Thomson underlines:
“We have a plan for future, and this plan is called SDG14”.
An important mobilisation from the ocean and climate community
The ocean and climate community has been actively mobilized within the Bonn Zone, (zone of the civil society). Indeed, two “oceans days” have been organized during COP23. The first one lead by the European Union took place on 10 November, and the second one, the Oceans & Coastal Zones Global Climate Action (GCA) Day, has been organized by the Global Ocean Forum (GOF) and its partners (including the OCP) on 11 November.
During this Oceans & Coastal Zones GCA Day, two joint reports from the GOF (ROCA : roadmap for ocean and climate action) and the Ocean and Climate Initiatives Alliance (Measuring progress on Ocean and Climate Initiatives: an action-oriented report) have been presented, providing an overview of the initiatives and ocean-based solutions existing to fight climate change. This strong mobilisation has been particularly visible during the Ocean and Climate Platform side-event “From Science to Action: the Ocean and Climate Initiative Alliance”, which has been introduced by Mr Peter Thomson and in which Hon. Anote Tong (former President of Kiribati) and other eminent panellists took part.
Science also played an important role during this COP23. During the Oceans & Coastal Zones GCA Day, a session organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, involving Françoise Gaill from OCP, was devoted to science, with an analysis of the IPCC report on ocean, highlighting the need of science in the development of the ocean policies and the funding required to implement them.
The ocean as a catalyst for action
Because the ocean is fundamentally a global common, it needs to be protected and managed by all stakeholders of society, including civil society. The ocean and climate community is progressively structuring itself and has been really involved within this COP, identifying a lack of connection between the Bula zone and the Bonn zone, as well as the necessity of a better integration of ocean in the NDCs.
In order to optimize the linking between civil society and decision-makers, the Because the Ocean (BTO) declaration (gathering representatives from more than 20 countries as well as members from international organisations, representatives from civil society, research centers and academia) works on this issue. This declaration has recently been joined by 4 new members: United Kingdom, Honduras, Romania and Finland. If this dynamic embodies a discussion on the integration of the ocean in the next round of NDC’s, it also facilitates the convergence of the States commitments with the civil society actions for a better management of the ocean.
It seems that things are moving forward, but things are not moving fast enough. A recent study reveals that Pacific Islands could lose from 50 to 80% of fish in local waters under climate change. The need for a strong, global and efficient mobilization is required now more than ever, to go further, faster, together. For this purpose, the OCP, under the aegis of its new President Romain Troublé (succeeding Eric Banel), will continue its mission to raise awareness and develop ocean literacy.