Participants at the Paris Climate Change Conference Oceans Day urged that climate change and oceans be addressed as a “single agenda.” They recommended ways to advance this agenda both within and outside the UNFCCC and welcomed actions through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 13 and 14, on climate and oceans, respectively.
The Global Ocean Forum hosted Oceans Day and co-organized it with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC) and the Ocean and Climate Platform. Oceans Day aimed to advance the climate and ocean agenda by achieving four major objectives: highlighting major climate and ocean issues and their impacts on vulnerable peoples and ecosystems, and suggesting steps forward; fostering political leadership and moving forward on major climate and oceans solutions by engaging high-level leaders from around the world; catalyzing and sharing solutions as part of the global portfolio of actions; and, mobilizing collaboration in developing a five-year strategic plan on oceans and climate to guide policy and action.
Oceans Day convened six panel sessions on: challenges and opportunities in the context of climate and oceans; addressing the effects of climate change on oceans and on coastal and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) populations; mitigation and the oceans; adaptation and financing for adaptation; capacity development, scientific monitoring, and public education; and bringing it all together: a five-year agenda for action. The high-level segment included addresses from Prince Albert II of Monaco; Mary Robinson, President, the Mary Robinson Foundation, and Ségolène Royal, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. The event also featured two videos: ‘The Nature of People,’ which focused on how coastal communities are adapting to a changing climate; and ‘Moana Rua: The Rising of the Seas,’ which explored the human dimension of climate change and stressed the urgency of addressing climate change for Pacific Islanders.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) launched ‘From Coast to Coast: Celebrating 20 Years of Transboundary Management of Our Shared Oceans,’ a report that showcases GEF investments in integrated coastal management, sustainable fisheries, pollution reduction and safe shipping. The report illustrates how the GEF’s International Waters large marine ecosystem (LME) and coastal area management portfolio has contributed to improved governance of shared transboundary marine ecosystems, global and regional governance and ecosystem health and services and human well being. Speaking at the launch, GEF CEO, Naoko Ishii, said “oceans are vital for regulating the climate, maintaining biodiversity and for global food security,” stressing that over “three billion people depend on marine and coastal areas for their livelihood and subsistence.”
Oceans Day built on the Ocean and Climate Forum, which convened on 3 December. The Forum discussed the common agenda of ocean-related events at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC and featured an interactive debate with scientists, economists, youth and other actors on the role of the ocean as a potential solution to climate change.