Side Event at the UN Ocean Conference Preparatory Meeting

On February 15 to 16, the UN General Assembly convened a preparatory meeting in New York for the upcoming UN Ocean Conference in June. The goal of the conference is to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The Nereus Program facilitated a side event on February 16 entitled: “Co-Benefits of Achieving SDG Goal 14 to Wider SDGs: Prioritizing Action Given Climate Change and Social Inequity”. The theme of the event was implications of changing oceans on the advancement of SDG’s, with an emphasis on the co-benefits of achieving ocean targets on other environmental, economic, and social equity goals.

Preparatory Meeting for the Ocean Conference on “Our Oceans, Our Future: Partnering for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14”. Image courtesy of the IISD Reporting Services.

The side event discussed changing oceans and what they mean for achieving SDGs. It also outlined a rapid assessment tool that can help policymakers prioritize ocean targets based on desired co-benefits. The assessment can also help highlight which co-benefits across ocean targets, and other environmental, economic, and social equity goals are immediately associated with achieving specific ocean targets and which ones depend on implementation strategy. Also highlighted was the biophysical and social dynamics affecting resource production and distribution due to climate change that influence these co-benefits, as well as how policy can help ensure co-benefits are realized, such as fishery management for poverty alleviation.

Nereus Fellow Gerald Singh (UBC) opened the floor with current challenges of SDG initiatives, as well as his work on how ocean SDG targets co-benefit other targets. Director of Science William Cheung presented on the potential redistribution of ocean resources under climate change. Director of Policy Yoshitaka Ota presented on the relationship between SDG 14 and social equity. A panel discussion moderated by Program Manager and Research Associate Andres Cisneros-Montemayor followed, with guests Marjo Vierros from Coastal Policy and Humanities Research and Jamison Ervin from the UN Development Programme.

The side event was successful in sharing Nereus program efforts with fellow researchers, NGOs, policy-makers and other ocean policy stakeholders. It was announced that the Nereus Program will release a report on May 31, 2017, in time for the UN Oceans Conference, outlining the co-benefits of achieving the various ocean targets for social equity and mitigating climate change impacts.

SDG Oceans Report outline:
1. The needs and contributions of marine ecosystems in achieving the SDGs, with specific focuses on marine biodiversity, biomass, and food production.
2. Comprehensive assessment of the links between SDG 14 targets and the other SDG targets, the co-benefits and tradeoffs of achieving the targets.
3. Current research and scientific understandings of how climate change will impact our efforts to achieve SDG 14 target and the need for more effective ocean governance.
4. Addressing social equity including the need for the fair share of benefits from the oceans explicitly in the process of achieving SDG14.