Sunday, 17 June 2012

Oceans Special 2: Four Pacific nations support new Global Partnership for Oceans initiative

By Makereta Komai, Editor, PACNEWS

World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte

17 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Four Pacific Islands Countries – Fiji, Kiribati, Palau and Samoa have declared their support for the new Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), whose aim is to restore the world’s oceans to health productivity.

In addition, four regional organisations based in the Pacific – the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) have also thrown their support to this global initiative launched on the sidelines of the Rio+20 conference.

FFA’s director general, Su’a Tanielu says while his organisation supports the global initiative, he remains cautious.

“There are merits in these types of partnerships because the World Bank will bring financial resources and expertise to develop our fisheries, as long as we can monitor their activity and ensure there is no duplication of efforts. We also want to ensure that they don’t cut across the initiatives we already have in place.

“We have to ensure that what the World Bank brings into the region doesn’t compromise the interest of our members in terms of fisheries management and compliance, said Tanielu.

Among those throwing their public support behind a “Declaration for Healthy and Productive Oceans to Help Reduce Poverty” are 17 private firms and associations including some of the largest seafood purchasing companies in the world, representing over $6 billion per year in seafood sales, as well as one of the world’s largest cruise lines.

So far, 13 nations, 27 civil society groups, 17 private sector firms and associations, seven research institutions, five UN agencies and conventions, seven regional and multi-lateral organisations and seven private foundations are supporting the Declaration - totaling 83. Further support is expected in the run-up to the formal Rio+20 Conference.

The Global Partnership for Oceans is a new and diverse coalition of public, private, civil society, research and multilateral interests working together for healthy and productive oceans. It was first announced in February 2012 by World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick at the World Oceans Summit and has been gathering growing support.

Announcing the unprecedented public statement of commitment in a keynote address to the Global Ocean Forum in Rio at the Oceans Day side event, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte who said the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) had garnered enormous support from across the oceans spectrum.

“Everyone can see the value in being part of a Partnership that aims to turn around the decline in our oceans,” Kyte said.

“Everyone stands to benefit if the oceans are better protected, better managed and better understood for the important ecosystem services they provide.”

The Declaration commits the Partnership to mobilizing “significant human, financial and institutional resources for effective public and private investments in priority ocean areas”. It aims to improve capacity and close the recognized gap in action in implementing global, regional and national commitments for healthy and productive oceans.

It also recognizes that despite global commitments made to date as well as the efforts of many organisations, governments, enterprises and individuals, the oceans remain “under severe threat from pollution, unsustainable harvesting of ocean resources, habitat destruction, ocean acidification and climate change”.

To tackle these threats, the Partnership is targeting three key focus areas: sustainable seafood and livelihoods from capture fisheries and aquaculture; critical coastal and ocean habitats and biodiversity and pollution reduction.

Among the GPO’s agreed goals are targets for significantly increasing global food fish production from sustainable aquaculture and sustainable fisheries; halving the current rate of natural habitat loss and increasing marine-managed and protected areas to at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas; and reducing marine pollution especially from marine litter, waste water and excess nutrients.

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