June 8, 2017

World Ocean Day

From left: H.E. Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, H.E. Ambassador Elliston Rahming of the Bahamas, H.E. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi of Italy at the meeting of the 10x20 Steering Committee on June 8, 2016. (OSA photo)

From left: H.E. Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, H.E. Ambassador Elliston Rahming of the Bahamas, H.E. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi of Italy at the meeting of the 10x20 Steering Committee on June 8, 2016. (OSA photo)

Steering Committee of the 10x20 Initiative
Hosted by the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Republic of Italy, the Republic of Kenya,
the Republic of Palau, the Republic of Poland and the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance

Conceived by General Assembly President Peter Thomson, and co-chaired by Sweden and Fiji, the UN hosted a comprehensive week-long ocean conference devoted to SDG 14 from June 5-9, 2017.  Over 6000 world leaders from the public and private sectors attended.

In conjunction with the conference, the 10x20 steering committee presented a programme of diplomatic and scientific speakers on World Ocean Day, June 8, 2017.  The full agenda can be found here: Agenda

The assembled audience heard statements from five permanent representatives and from the Italian Undersecretary of the Environment, and from 9 scientists and ocean sanctuary administrators on their efforts to develop and expand marine protected areas around the globe.

In attendance were permanent representatives and other high-level officials from 13 member-states, including Italy, Kenya, Bahamas, Poland, Kiribati, Tonga, Barbados, Monaco, Colombia, Maldives, Palau, and Israel.  Dr. Amir Dossal Chairman of Global Partnerships Forum and Board Member of Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, moderated the meeting.

Welcome from Italy

On June 8th 2017, the Steering Committee of the 10x20 Initiative met to discuss ocean conservation and protection, specifically through establishing and enforcing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The main goal of this committee is to protect 10% of the ocean via MPA by the year 2020, in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 14.5, Target 11. Committee Chair H.E. Mr. Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Italy, welcomed attendees, and noted the great progress made in the field of ocean protection over recent years. He expressed his confidence that the 10% target would be achieved by 2020, praising the scientific and diplomatic communities and what they have done in such a short time. H.E. Ms. Silvia Velo, Undersecretary of the Environment for Italy, noted that Italy has 29 marine protected areas, and is currently studying how to add to the 19.9% of Italy’s territorial waters already protected. She noted that Italy has worked with many of the island member-states, and currently is helping in Palau, Tonga, and Kiribati.

Remarks by Vice Chairs
Vice Chairs H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya, and H.E. Mr. Boguslaw Winid, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland, continued the conversation by discussing the progress of The Bahamas, Kenya and Poland, respectively. Ambassador Rahming commemorated World Ocean Day, noting that the conference a historical event that will be favorably looked upon by future generations. The Bahamas, home of the ocean’s third largest barrier reef, is now protecting 14.5% of the world’s coral through their network of MPAs. Ambassador Rahming believes that MPAs not only protect the ecosystem for purposes of preservation and recreation, but that they are the “golden thread” that helps form global partnerships. According to Ambassador Kamau, Kenya’s MPA coverage is at about 6%, falling right at the global average. He made it very clear that SDG14.5 was of high priority to Kenya; the country already has 4 marine parks, 6 marine reserves, and coastal communities that are highly involved in preservation and security efforts. The Vice Chairs together acknowledged the necessity for the world to not only strive to achieve the goals set forth by 10 x 20, but to rigorously strive toward protecting 30% by 2030.

Special Address
Ms. Jane Alexander, esteemed American actress, gave a speech reiterating the 10% goal, and that it be attained by meeting standards of the “best available science.” Ms. Alexander explained that science must be the force that guides us so MPAs can be powerful and effective enough to reverse ocean decline. She then highlighted the United Nations critical role in saving the ocean, as it is the only place in the world where issues of this magnitude can be addressed. Ms. Alexander concluded her remarks by emphasizing the importance that member states follow through with their agreements and goals, and continue the momentum of this issue long after the conference is over. “Solutions must come from every country,” she said.

Political Will
H.E. Mr. Mahe’uli’uli Sandhurst Tupouniua, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga, led the discussion on the “political will” of creating MPAs, commenting on how the natural synergy of conservation in the Kingdom of Tonga melds with cultural norms and practices, thus leading to more success stories. Though Tonga has only been able to cover 3% of the ocean since 2013, a plan on the horizon includes incorporating MPAs into areas where preservation is a priority. By 2030, Tonga plans to have spatial-planning schemes developed to help achieve the diverse goals of the nation. 

H.E. Mrs. Makurita Baaro, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kiribati, shared how the oceans shape who the Kiribati are as people, and how they have strong interdependence with the oceans. Ambassador Baaro stated how notions of conservation are not new to the island people; long before the 10x20 initiatives, there had been a desperate need to protect the fragility of their ecosystems. In Kiribati, all 8 low lying coral reef islands became protected, becoming one of the largest MPAs in the world. Ambassador Baaro described how the PIPA (Phoenix Islands Protected Area) functions, experiencing more success stories than failures due to the “passion and heart to see PIPA working.” Moving forward, Ambassador Baaro would like to see a global realistic assessment of what can be done and what can’t be done to protect the ocean. She would also like to establish political commitments that will remain in place despite potential shifts in governmental administration

Sanctuary Pioneers
Mr. Eric Carey, Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust
, then spoke about marine conservation efforts in The Bahamas, both historically and at present. The Bahamas set an early example, with the establishment of Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park in 1958. In 1986, The Bahamas established a “no take reserve” that continues to function with efficacy; the reserve has monitoring systems to inform adaptive management, and acts as a station where scientists can gather research. Mr. Carey believes that the key to these successes was not only the long and sustained political will in the area, but financing to uphold conservation priorities. He hopes the Bahamas will continue demonstrate global leadership in marine conservation, and have 20% of its oceans protected by 2020.  Click here for Carey Presentation

Mr. Koebel Sakuma, Executive Director of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, emphasized Palau’s leadership in establishing the world’s first nationwide MPA, covering Palau’s entire EEZ, an area the size of France.  Eighty percent of the area is no-take, and the remaining 20% subject to restrictions. Palau recently received significant support from the Nippon Foundation to support a strengthening of its enforcement capability.  A visitors’ fee also helps to finance the sanctuary. The PNMS Office, created under executive order, has six key elements that have contribute to its success thus far: surveillance and enforcement, sustainable financing, tourism and marketing, fisheries and food security, science and monitoring, and education and awareness. Mr. Sakuma believes that any country interested in creating large scale MPAs should consider these elements, and look to the successes and failures of other countries as did Palau.   Click here for Sakuma presentation

Science-based Protection
Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Professor and Executive Director of Stony Brook University Institute for Ocean and Conservation Science, and Dr. Natasha Gownaris, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Washington,
 both of whom are part of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, gave a presentation on how countries must also consider quality of protection as they strive for quantitative goals. Dr. Pikitch reminded the audience that the 2016 Rome Conference had two important outcomes: a Scientist’s Consensus Statement and a Call to Action—both of which can be used as a guideline for identifying and establishing MPAs. Despite the current success and momentum on increasing protected areas in the ocean, Drs. Pikitch and Gownaris spoke about the challenges: current global protection is not evenly distributed and is weak in some areas. To address strengthening MPAs, they are working on a mapping project which will compile existing maps and studies to discover a consensus as to which ocean areas are most in need of protection.  It is hoped that this consensus will help to drive interest and funding of new MPAs.  Dr. Pikitch noted that as the 10% achieved by 2020 is well-managed and well-protected.  Click here for Pikitch Gownaris presentation 

Mr. John Davis, M.M.A., Director of the Marine Affairs Research and Education (MARE) organization spoke about how his organization provides appropriate tools for practitioners and policy makers, and that “carrot or stick” approaches can be taken in MPA management. In particular, consequences to avoid are negative socioeconomic impacts, stakeholder dissatisfaction, and challenges with compliance. Mr. Davis reaffirmed the thematic idea that we must turn “required into desired,” and keep pushing for increased protections, even after achieving initial goals.   Click here for Davis Presentation

Dr. Jean Harris, Head of Scientific Services for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South Africa, spoke of South Africa’s plan for overall ocean sustainable development. She noted that her country has spans three of the world’s Oceans – Atlantic, Antarctic, and Indian. While 21% of inshore areas are protected, more effort is needed in offshore areas. A new vessel has been purchased to carry out research and to use for enforcement. South Africa sees this as an urgent matter and the name for the program means “Hurry Up.” Dr. Harris believes that we as a global society are in a “state of readiness” in scientific knowledge, and that we must be ready to help conserve the oceans evenly, according to priority and science. 

Professor Tymon Zielinski of the Polish Academy of Sciences reminded the audience the need and benefits of involving youth, as they have the natural ability to “see things as they are”—and if they are engaged early in life, perhaps solutions to problems will come easier when today’s children become tomorrow’s leaders. He described Poland’s sponsorship of a youth photography contest as one way to do this. 

Creating Paths for Target 5
To help the committee create a path to Target 5, Mr. Matthew Rand, Director of the Pew-Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, and Ms. Mary O’Malley, Secretary of WildAid, began a session on strategy. Mr. Rand delivered a presentation on how “Marine Reserves Save the World,” which included details on how the Pew and Berterelli Foundations have established a new partnership for the next five years, investing $30 million for the establishment of large-scale and globally significant marine parks. Mr. Rand mentioned new research showing that MPA’s also act as climate reserves, because they function as carbon sinks. He noted that the engagement of scientists, local communities, and local governments are all needed to successfully create new MPA’s.  Click here for Rand presentation 

Ms. Mary O’Malley, Secretary of Wild Aid, described the Misool Conservation Initiative, which established a protected area in eastern Indonesia. The effort began in 2005, initially financed by the adjacent resort and its shareholders who wanted to protect the pristine environment.  The initiative uses integrated-approach methods to tackle ocean issues, such as poaching and plastic pollution. Misool does this by engaging the local community to manage enforcement, and creating programs like recycling that allow locals to claim ownership of the issues and solutions. Financing for the initiative comes from a variety of sources including foundations, a guest fee from the resort, local government, and private donations.  One challenge, however, is that long term solutions for sustainable program funding are still needed.  

Closing, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance
To conclude the meeting, Mr. Mark Newhouse, President of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance (OSA), said its mission is to promote the creation of new MPA’s and to expand existing ones.  In this connection it has brought many funders to meetings of the 10x20 steering committee, including The World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility, The Walton Family Foundation, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, UNDP, Oceans5, Avatar Alliance, Bloomberg Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Bertarelli Foundation.  The OSA sees its role as bringing member-states and MPA projects together with funders.