Highlights from the 2022 UN Ocean Conference
5 July 2022
[Pictured above: Professor Stephen Widdicombe, PML’s Director of Science and Co-Chair of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) - Moderator of the Dialogue: “Minimizing and Addressing Ocean Acidification, Deoxygenation and Ocean Warming" Image credit: IISD]
The week-long 2022 UN Ocean Conference, themed ‘Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions’, concluded on the 1st July, with the unanimous adoption of the Lisbon Declaration, "Our ocean, our future, our responsibility”.
Co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal the Conference saw over 6,000 participants, including 24 Heads of State and Government and over 2,000 representatives of civil society joined the Conference in Lisbon and galvanized efforts to save our ocean.
Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) scientists were delighted to have been able to play a prominent role in Lisbon, in recognition of their expertise and as part of PML’s commitment to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Supporting the overall theme of the Conference were eight Interactive Dialogues which focused on recommendations to support the implementation of SDG 14, including through strengthened cooperation, building on existing successful partnerships and stimulating innovative and concrete new ones.
Professor Stephen Widdicombe, PML’s Director of Science and Co-Chair of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) Executive Council (pictured above), was the Moderator of the Dialogue: “Minimizing and Addressing Ocean Acidification, Deoxygenation and Ocean Warming”, following his nomination for this panel by the UK Government as well as IOC UNESCO.
The dialogue was co-chaired by John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate of the United States (pictured below) and Matthew Samuda, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica.
[Image credit: IISD]
Following the opening of the dialogue by the co-chairs, Professor Widdicombe presented substantive remarks on the current state of the ocean, with an abstract of these highlighted below.
Today over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods and, when you think of it, every single one of us depends on the additional benefits and services the ocean and its ecosystems it provides us with.
Crucially, and particularly relevant to the dialogue today, is that the ocean has greatly slowed the rate of climate change. But at a cost - as the ocean has also warmed, acidified, and lost oxygen, whilst circulation patterns are changing, and sea levels are rising. The continuation of these changes not only threatens marine ecosystems, but also the future ability of the ocean to indirectly support all life on Earth.
In support of this dialogue, a concept paper has been published on “Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming” which eloquently summarizes the status, trends, challenges and opportunities for the achievement of the relevant targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14. I would like to thank all of those involved in developing this excellent resource.
The concept paper reminds us that the ocean, its ecosystems and the numerous economic, ecological, aesthetic and cultural resources it provides, is under heightened threat from a multitude of human induced pressures."
Professor Widdicombe was an invited speaker at further side events at the conference, including the side event hosted by the IOC UNESCO and the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, as well as a co-host of the reception and side event for the UN Ocean Decade endorsed programme Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability. This in addition to his role on the UN Sustainable Development Goal Informal Preparatory Working Group focusing on ‘Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming’.
Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente, who leads the research at PML on satellite remote sensing detection of marine plastic debris pollution, was a speaker alongside Ms. Florence Descroix-Comanducci, Director of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Marine Environment Laboratories in the official side event “Addressing Marine Plastic Pollution”, led by the IAEA. In addition to speaking at the ‘Integrating Marine Litter Monitoring to Inform Action’ full day event focusing on the necessity of supporting a Global Integrated Marine Litter Monitoring Platform as a strategic tool to achieve SGD 14 by 2030.
Other PML scientists that attended the UN Ocean Conference included:
Professor Steve Groom. PML’s Head of Science for Earth Observation, Professor Groom gave a presentation at the British Embassy meeting ‘Strengthen and widening future collaborations between the UK and Portugal’, a round table with the scientific community, defense/navy, diplomatic and education.
Dr Ana Queirós. A senior Benthic Ecologist, attended in her capacity as an internationally-recognised expert on seaweed blue carbon and climate change ecology.
As part of these conferences the UN calls for Voluntary Commitments that aim to accelerate and contribute to the implementation of SDG14 with PML’s successfully approved commitment based on its current science strategy, expanding on its commitment made in 2017.
PML’s presence at this only 2nd UN Ocean Conference builds on a similar role PML played at the 1st UN Ocean Conference in 2017 when Dr Carol Turley was a speaker and author on the concept paper for the Partnership Dialogue on ocean acidification.
Sustainable Development Goal 14:
Life Below Water
Adopted in 2015 as an integral aspect of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its set of 17 transformative goals, Goal 14 stresses the need to conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.
Advancement of Goal 14 is guided by specific targets that focus on an array of ocean issues, including reducing marine pollution, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, minimizing acidification, ending illegal and over-fishing, increasing investment in scientific knowledge and marine technology, and respecting international law that calls for the safe and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources.
PML contributed to the establishment of the UN Sustainable Development Target 14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels.