SI to host Pacific Blue Economy forum

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Hon Milner Tozaka

The Pacific Islands Development Forum’s (PIDF’s), Pacific Blue Economy Conference will be held in Honiara, Solomon Islands in August this year.

The conference will focus on traditional knowledge, the latest innovations and lessons learnt and best practices to inform policies, sustainable management and conservation of ocean resources for the Pacific.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Milner Tozaka announced this in his statement on behalf of Members of the PIDF at the Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations’ Ocean Conference in Suva, Fiji, last week.

Hon Tozaka said the Blue Pacific Economy Conference is in line with the PIDF leaders declaration of ‘2017 as the Pacific Year of the Ocean’ at their fourth summit in Honiara in 2016.

He said the declaration emphasises the necessity of governments, private sector and the civil society of the Pacific Island countries and territories to focus on the importance of the health of the ocean and its impact on the health of ‘our’ nations and people.

“A successful undertaking of the Blue Economy must include engagement with the Private Sector, Civil Society and Community Groups. We need to create space for Public Private Partnership that is based on the sustainable use of our marine resources. Furthermore, our Civil Society and Community Groups are the conduits of development at the local level and we would like to recognise those resource owners who have made judicious use of their marine resources.”

Minister Tozaka said a storm of massive challenges, from collapsing fisheries to plastic pollution to ocean warming and ocean acidification, is threatening the integrity of the Pacific marine ecosystems and Pacific countries and territories cannot not simply survive, let alone prosper, if the destruction of the Pacific Ocean’s natural capital is not reversed.

He said the (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) gives Pacific countries and territories an opportunity to holistically address issues related to the Oceans through multi sectorial partnerships and integrated approaches towards implementation of the SDG14 targets.

“This SDG14 conference is expected to provide linkages to other SDGs particularly SDG13. PIDF would like to see oceans reflected in the COP (Conference of the Parties) process of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in recognition of the oceans’ role in climate regulation. In this regard the PIDF Pacific Blue Economy Conference in August is scheduled to explore the linkages between sustainable oceans and the changing climate.”

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade said Maritime boundary security is fundamental to the well-being of all Pacific countries and without this, there is no significant Blue Economy secured in the Pacific region.

He said it is also fundamental to the security more broadly of low-lying nations as no nation should be at risk of loss of maritime jurisdiction due to sea level rise from climate change.

“We cannot discuss climate change in the Pacific and the health of our oceans without addressing the issue of Shipping Emissions. When one also considers the impact of Biofouling and Ballast water management, one can say that shipping albeit its importance, is a major contributor to environmental degradation in the Pacific,” he added.

Minister Tozaka said PIDF has been supporting member countries in negotiations within the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) processes advocating high ambition for emission cuts in both the maritime and aviation sectors.

On that note, he called on all countries to support this initiative particularly at the forthcoming IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting later this year in London.

“Ocean governance issues have been highlighted in most of the Pacific events recently and the need to employ an integrated approach to decision making related to oceans. A stronger commitment from leaders is required to improve linkages between local, national, regional and international frameworks,” the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade said.

-PM Press Secretariat