Our Ocean 2017 Conference: €7billion and 437 commitmentsJanuary 11, 2018
On 5th and 6th October 2017, the European Union hosted the 4th edition of the “Our Ocean” Conference in Malta.
The most successful Our Ocean conference to date, participants to Our Ocean 2017 nearly doubled their financial pledges compared to previous years, representing over €7billion allocated to a total of 437 commitments across the highlighted themes of the conference, listed below. These commitments are coming from individual countries, NGOs, foundations, research institutes and international organisations.
The EU brought to the table 36 commitments amounting to over €550 million; however, when taking into account its individual Member States and the European Investment Bank, the total EU pledge exceeds €2.8 billion.
The EU’s 36 commitments are spread over its four conference themes and two newly highlighted areas of activity, as follows:
- marine pollution
with 10 million tonnes of litter ending up in the sea every year, marine pollution is a critical issue to resolve. Part of the effort to tackle this, WISE-Marine – an EU portal and infrastructure for sharing information with the European marine community – will promote better ocean governance and ecosystem-based management. In addition, there will now be more financial assistance to support the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (€2 million), marine pollution prevention projects (€2.85 million) and other marine pollution actions (€2.5 million).
- climate change
During Our Ocean, the EU pledged €10 million towards a project, in partnership with the International Maritime Organisation, on climate change mitigation in the shipping sector. In addition, approximately €1.5 million will be funded for reducing black-carbon emissions in the Arctic and a further €600,000 towards integrated Arctic projects.
- marine protection
- Another area of critical importance with less than 5% of the world’s marine and coastal areas currently protected by law, new EU funding of €20 million will go towards supporting marine protected areas in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
- sustainable fisheries
- This sector will benefit from €15 million towards improving regional fisheries governance in Western Africa and €5.7 million towards improving the sustainability of fishing resources in the Mediterranean (following up on the Medfish4Ever Declaration).
- sustainable blue economy
- One of the new areas flagged by Our Ocean, blue economy is currently worth €1.3 trillion. There will be ample plans and major funding into this field, including €250 million from EU to fund marine and maritime research in 2017, €12 million supporting the combat of marine litter and €50 million for BlueMED for cooperation on science and research in the Mediterranean. In addition, €14.5 million will go towards promoting sustainable blue economy in the EU and nearly €6 million towards helping EU countries to cooperate across borders on maritime spatial planning.
- maritime security
- The second new area of action announced at Our Ocean, maritime security which is vital for trade is under threat from natural disasters, piracy, trafficking and armed conflict. In a bid to make the oceans more secure, EU will make available €37.5 million to counter piracy in the south-eastern African coastline region and Indian Ocean. Other commitments include significant EU funding going towards monitoring oil pollution and large-scale commercial fisheries.
Another way in which Our Ocean 2017 was a success was in mobilising the business community on a significant scale, with over 100 commitments coming directly from global business players including Airbus, Unilever, PepsiCo, AXA and Sky.
However, as Commissioner Karmenu Vella encourages while closing Our Ocean, the conference needs to go beyond commitments: “It’s about implementation as well (…) following up on these numerous work streams. Full steam ahead!”
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