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)

World Ocean Day 8 June 2017


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-chair by Sweden and Fiji, the UN mounted 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. 


September 22, 2016: 

High Level Event-- 10x20 Initiative on Marine Protected Areas -- "Achieving the Promise to Protect the Ocean and Seas"

This high level event included remarks by H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson and by ministers from Italy, the Bahamas, Kenya, Poland, France, the United States, and Sweden, and from representatives of Ocean Unite, the National Geographic Society, and the Save Our Shark Coalition.

The full program is available here.


July 9, 2016:    

United Nations Ambassadors visit Stony Brook Southampton NY Marine Station


On Saturday July 9th, 2016, a group of United Nations ambassadors, dignitaries, and their families visited Stony Brook University's Southampton NY Marine Station for a tour of the facility and an overview of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP). Ten countries, including Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Fiji, Israel, Italy, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, and Vanuatu were represented.

 Guests were given a tour of Stony Brook’s state-of-the art research laboratory with a detailed explanation of its current experiments, shellfish spawning, and how the scientific work done in the lab directly informs bay restoration. The diplomats also heard an overview ShiRP’s restoration goals and activities from research scientists who have led ShiRP’s trawl survey and other fishery-related activities since the program’s inception.

A highlight of the study tour was a visit to the hard clam spawner sanctuaries in Shinnecock Bay -- areas where large amounts of adult hard clams have been placed in close proximity to one another to maximize population growth and reproduction. Spawner sanctuaries, a type of marine protected area (or MPA), are a conservation tool that can improve the water quality and shellfish populations of Shinnecock Bay. During the boat trawl, the success of the sanctuaries became apparent when samples taken just outside the protected area revealed small hard clams – offspring of the adult clams that had been placed in the hard clam sanctuaries. Diplomats also participated in deploying sampling gear, which revealed some of the fish and invertebrates resident in Shinnecock Bay, and learned how various species and habitats contribute to the bay’s ecological health and vibrancy. A summer flounder was tagged with an acoustic transmitter that allows ShiRP researchers to monitor migration patterns of this flagship fish species.

President-Elect of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji, reminded all that “We are One Ocean,” noting that the sediment in Shinnecock Bay looks, smells and feels just the same as the bay bottom he encountered as a child in Fiji. He praised the work of Stony Brook University's restoration program, citing it as a model for protecting marine areas, as is needed to safeguard our oceans and coastal areas for generations to come.


March 22, 2016


Remarks of Dr. Ellen Pikitch, OSA Board Member, to the United Nations on the results of the Rome 10 x 20 Conference on Marine Protected Areas: An Urgent Imperative

Missions from countries from around the world attended the UN briefing, and were welcomed by Ambassador Inigo Lambertini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations. 

Excellencies, colleagues, and other distinguished guests.

It’s an honor to address you regarding the results of the 10 x 20 Conference that took place in Rome earlier this month.  The conference brought together 25 scientists from around the globe and diplomats representing 33 countries and succeeded in producing its two intended outcomes:

1) A scientists’ consensus statement that describes the characteristics, governance principles and financing arrangements that are most likely to lead to effective marine protected areas (MPAs);

2) The Rome Call to Action - – a roadmap for achieving the 10 x 20 goal which was jointly agreed by the scientists and diplomats.  This is a guide for implementing MPAs that are based on the best available science and are effective, equitable and financially sustainable.

There are 34 points of agreement in the Scientists’ Consensus statement, and 14 points in the Rome Call to Action.

Here I will highlight six key points agreed by the scientists that are echoed in the Rome Call to Action:

  1. There are many substantial benefits to be gained by increasing MPA coverage including increased food security and livelihood options, and greater resilience in the face of climate change.
  2. MPA creation is to be based on the “best available science” and, in fact, there is a wealth of excellent science – much of it developed in the past decade – to draw upon.
  3. Effective MPAs require full or strong protection and must be well planned and implemented.
  4. Diversity and inclusiveness is key to effective implementation and governance of MPA’s.
  5. We are far from the goal now with only 3.5% of the ocean receiving any form of protection and many gaps in coverage, while at the same time we recognize that 10% needs to be considered a waypoint – not an endpoint
  6. MPA’s are a good investment in the long term – with benefit:cost ratios recently estimated at 3:1 for 10% coverage and 20:1 for 30% MPA coverage. HOWEVER, the costs come upfront while the benefits are only realized over time, creating a major impediment to securing financing.

Additional Highlights of the Rome Call to Action, including the following specific calls:

Nations: Incorporate the establishment of MPAs into national strategies to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Funding sources to promote, mobilize and accelerate investment in the establishment and maintenance of MPAs, as part of the international effort towards the achievement of sustainable development.

Scientists and other MPA experts – (and in particular those gathered in Rome) offer their assistance both globally and in specific regions.  Specifics to include: identification and mapping of priority areas, and development of a tool-box of best practices for MPA creation, implementation, governance and financing.

The Steering Committee of the 10x20 Initiative to bring this call to action to the attention of member states and the international community and to devise and conduct follow-up activities, including further dialogue and development of a “tool-box” for MPAs.

Another highlight of the conference were the MPA case studies presented by scientist-diplomat teams from Palau, The Bahamas, Kiribati, and Italy.  These presentations demonstrated that when carefully planned and executed, MPAs do, in fact, yield a wealth of benefits.  

In concluding, I thank you for your attention, and would like to acknowledge and thank the government of Italy for its support and leadership of the 10x20 initiative, as well as the UNEP, OSA and all the participants in the conference in Rome.


March 7-9, 2016


Conference on
Marine Protected Areas: An Urgent Imperative
A Dialogue Between Scientists and Policymakers
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Rome







From March 7-9, 2016, the Government of Italy, the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) organized an international conference to support the achievement of a globally agreed target to conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by the year 2020 (SDG 14, Target 5).

This is part of the 10X20 initiative* launched in October 2015 by the Government of Italy and the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance.

The first two days of the conference, led by Professor Ellen Pikitch of Stony Brook University and OSA, involved 25 international experts who discussed good practices aimed at identifying measures to designate and promote the establishment of effective marine protected areas (MPAs). The discussion focused on science, governance and finance, leading to the generation of the “Scientists’ Consensus Statement,” which summarizes the state of the art on ways and means to establish successful MPAs.

On the third day, diplomatic representatives of 33 countries from around the world, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS), joined the conference to engage in a dialogue with the scientists and formulate together a “roadmap” for moving forward on achieving the 10% target. This roadmap—the Rome Call to Action—is built upon the Scientists’ Consensus. It is a guide to help national governments, UN agencies and development investors over the next 15 years to promote MPAs that are designated and designed on the basis of the best available science, and that are effective, equitable and financially sustainable.

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Paolo Gentiloni, opened the scientists-diplomats joint session. The Italian Minister of the Environment, Land and Sea, the Hon. Gian Luca Galletti, closed the event.

*The 10X20 Initiative was launched in October 2015 by the Government of Italy and by the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance to promote the achievement of target 5 of SDG14. A steering committee has been established as the instrument of advocacy of the initiative as well as a means for generating support for the voluntary creation of MPAs and a forum for exchanging knowledge and best practices. The Steering Committee brings together governments, international organizations, NGOs, foundations and private companies and is open to all Member States.

July 1, 2015

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A high-level symposium “One Ocean: Regenerating Fish Stocks, Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14” was held on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015. The symposium was co-sponsored by The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Republic of Poland, and the Republic of Palau, and co-organized by the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, Global Partnerships Forum, and the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science. Other UN Member States in support of the symposium included the Commonwealth of Australia, the State of Israel, the Italian Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Maldives, and the Delegation of the European Union.

Moderated by Mr. Amir Dossal, Chairman of the Global Partnerships Forum and Co-Founder of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, the symposium gathered representatives of nations and organizations to address challenges and opportunities as part of SDG 14, while examining effective solutions and actions already underway.

H.E. Mr. Stuart Beck, Ambassador for Oceans and Seas, Palau, and President of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance began by sounding an alarm similar to the call for action made by scientists decades ago on climate change.Hindsight is 20/20. If we had acted upon the scientific consensus on climate change twenty-five years ago by the IPCC, the world would clearly face a better future. We must not make the same mistake with the ocean.” Ambassador Beck implored Member States to act now. “We have observed accelerating extinctions as well as the collapse of important fisheries. It has even been predicted that without action, there will be no more fish in as little as 40 years.”  Ambassador Beck noted a consensus among scientists that a coordinated network of marine sanctuaries will begin to regenerate fish stocks, and that a minimum of 10% of protected areas is needed by 2020.  This target, embedded in SDG 14, is measurable, can be established relatively quickly, and is capable of being enforced with existing technology.

Dr. Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) opened the symposium with a poignant statement: “We currently face the biggest challenge that the human race has ever faced: how to reach economic prosperity without undermining future opportunities. There is scientific proof that we are pushing the earth’s systems to their carrying capacity. Thankfully, 2015 brings an opportunity we have never seen before: SDG 14.” She emphasized the need to bring together key stakeholders and create strong market linkages and financing opportunities. She spoke of the GEF’s experience with innovative fisheries projects, and noted that in over twenty years, the GEF has provided over $1.15 billion in grants for ocean and coastal conservation and management in over 120 countries, including the establishment of over 250 marine protected areas (MPAs) worldwide.

Several other ambassadors expressed support for SDG 14 and the sanctuaries target. H.E. Mr. Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy, pointed out that diplomats play an effective role in ocean protection by working with national governments, and he reiterated Italy’s support in making Palau’s nationwide marine sanctuary a reality. H.E. Mr. Boguslaw Winid, Permanent Representative of Poland, expressed that healthy oceans contribute to poverty eradication, sustainable economic growth, food security and creation of sustainable livelihoods for many millions of people; however the key question is how to develop while preserving the oceans for future generations. H.E. Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, speaking for EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella, expressed that “it is our job to make SDG 14 work, through awareness, cooperation and coordination between nations.” He noted that in the EU, 6% of waters are currently protected under the Natura 2000 Network, and it will work toward the goal of 10% by 2020 through an ecosystems approach that includes the implementation of MPAs.

One purpose of this symposium was to highlight examples from Member States that could lead the way towards sanctuary development across the globe. H.E. Ms. Gillian Bird, Permanent Representative of Australia, highlighted signature approaches used by Australia in designing its system of marine protected areas (MPAs), and stressed that they are founded in evidence-based decision-making. The existing network of protected areas within Australia is one of the largest in the world, covering approximately 36% of its waters, and is representative-- ensuring many types of habitats and species are included.  

H.E. Karel Jan Gustaaf van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Co-Chair of the Group of Friends of Oceans and Seas at the United Nations discussed challenges in both the North Sea and Caribbean regions. In the Caribbean, challenges include tourism, sewage management, over-development, and cruise ships, while in the North Sea, challenges are different because it is a highly trafficked and industrial area. Ambassador van Oosterom explained that because The Netherlands has a small ocean area, it has expertise in marine spatial management including protected areas. Perhaps most importantly, Ambassador van Oosterom emphasized that SDG 14 must now be implemented, and “we must keep one another accountable for our commitments.”  

Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Professor and Executive Director, Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, and Board Member, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, chaired a panel highlighting science. Dr. Pikitch noted that sanctuaries are underutilized; only 2% of the ocean is protected in some way, and less than 1% of that is strongly protected from activities such as fishing. Scientists have documented that MPAs, or sanctuaries, promote biodiversity, conserve habitats, can be economic engines, and regenerate fish stocks both within and outside protected areas. Dr. Pikitch urged science-based implementation of the 10% protected areas target within SDG 14 and moderated a panel of three scientists with experience across diverse areas and ecosystems.

Mr. Eric Carey, Executive Director, The Bahamas National Trust highlighted that the Bahamas is made up of many islands, and many environmental issues occur outside of the capitol. Limited policing resources mean that education and outreach is the best form of protection for more remote islands. He noted that “science for the common man” is needed, where science informs a system of MPAs, but is also brought down to a community level. Mr. Carey urged that it is important to work together through partnerships, communities and NGOs in order to help fill the gaps that are impeding further success in protecting oceans.

Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, CEO, Palau International Coral Reef Center, spoke about the experience of a small island state in the Pacific. Palau enacted a Protected Area Network (PAN) where marine areas were assessed for resiliency to warming conditions, and connectivity between sites was taken into consideration. Scientists measured fish biomass within and outside MPAs, and found nearly double the fish biomass, and a higher incidence of top predators, within protected areas. Palau hopes to establish a MPA within its entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to ensure the conservation of its ocean resources for its people.

Dr. Iwona Paliczka vel Pawlik, from the Institute of Oceanography, University of Gdansk, in Poland, discussed the cold Baltic waters and threats to biodiversity that exist in her region. She told a compelling story of how a sanctuary for seals was able to recover the population after decades of severe exploitation. Now, other steps can be taken such as creating a management plan for the seals and their habitats, and increase awareness for this important species.

In addition to presentations by diplomats and scientists, other invited speakers brought important experience and insight to the symposium. Mr. Ajay Markanday, Director, FAO Liaison Office for North America, highlighted that the fisheries sector is of major socioeconomic importance and spoke of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s work on fisheries and oceans. He also outlined the benefits and costs of implementing good systems of MPAs. Mr. Olkerlil Kazuo, Office of the President of the Republic of Palau, brought an enforcer’s perspective. Mr. Kazuo stated that Palau has just one patrol boat for its entire EEZ, and two smaller vessels for the inner reefs. This year, Palau apprehended multiple Vietnamese “blue boats” illegally fishing in Palau’s waters, and burned the boats at sea (see photos). Illegal fishing is an enormous challenge for an island nation with a large, remote EEZ and limited resources. Other challenges include lack of manpower and training, and a lack of funding and technology. Mr. Kazuo emphasized the need for increased surveillance as well as resources such as air, radar, and sonar technologies for use in Palau.

The final panel was dedicated to the topic of financing marine sanctuaries. Mr. Peter Bryant, Senior Programme Officer for The Walton Family Foundation spoke about the Foundation’s MPA programs and partnerships, in Indonesia—where 3.3 million hectares and nearly 500,000 hectares of no take zones were established—and in Costa Rica, where MPA coverage doubled and where a long term finance mechanism was created.  Mr. Andrew Hudson, Head of Water and Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP, followed with remarks on how MPAs have been statistically proven to be a smart investment socially, environmentally and economically. He noted that while the world has the capacity to invest and create MPAs, the challenge will be in financing their management and upkeep. Finally, Mr. Carl Linaburg, Chairman and Co-Founder, Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI) stated that sovereign wealth funds need to be paying more attention to sanctuary establishment and development.

Mr. Mark Newhouse, Chairman, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, and Ambassador Beck provided closing remarks. Mr. Newhouse highlighted that over 140 Member States have already declared sanctuaries, and that this is a “golden thread” that ties nations together on ocean issues.  He urged that Member States approve SDG 14 with the 10% sanctuary goal intact, and strive to ensure that SDG 14 becomes more than just words.

Ambassador Beck concluded with a positive call for action among Member States and others. “The UN and all participants today have the power and resources to actually restore the fish stocks of the world and preserve and protect our oceans. What is needed now is leadership. One or more of the Member states and one or more of the UN agencies can step forward now to curate this process, assemble the scientists, and implement their plan.”



March 5, 2015

One Ocean:
Achieving Sustainability Through Sanctuaries

High-Level Symposium at the United Nations, hosted by the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Republic of Fiji, the State of Israel, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Palau, and the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, in collaboration with the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, the Global Partnerships Forum, and the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science.

3:00 PM - 3:05 PM
• Mr. Amir Dossal, Chairman, Global Partnerships Forum and Co-Founder, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance

3:15 PM – 3:45 PM
Welcoming Remarks:

• H.E. Mr. Stuart Beck, Ambassador for Oceans and Seas, Palau & President, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance

• H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming, Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the United Nations and Chairman, Save Our Shark Coalition

• H.E. Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations

• H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations and Former Chair of the Group of 77 and China

• H.E. Mr. Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations

• H.E. Ms. Isabelle Picco, Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations

• H.E. Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations, and Chair of AOSIS

• H.E. Mr. Per Thoresson, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations

• Video Message from H.E. Mr. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries,
introduced by Thomas Mayr-Harting, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations

• H.E. Mr. Karel Jan Gustaaf van Oosterom, Permanent Mission of the Kingdowm of the Netherland to the United Nations

3:55 PM – 4:15 PM
National Leadership on the International Platform: Early Adopters

• The Honorable Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of Palau

4:15PM – 5:30PM
The Scientific case: Sanctuaries will heal The Ocean

Chaired by: Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Professor and Executive Director,
Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, and
Board Member, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance

• Professor Callum Roberts, Marine Conservation Biologist, University of York

• Dr. Lance Morgan, President, Marine Conservation Institute, Glen Ellen, CA

  •  Dr. Yossi Loya, Professor (Emeritus) of Marine Ecology,
Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, and member of the
Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

• Dr. Julia Xue, Chair Professor, Executive Director,
KoGuan Law School, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

• Dr. Pablo Borboroglu, President and Founder,
Global Penguin Society, Patagonia, Argentina

5:30PM – 6:15 PM
Investing for Impact - Converting the Science into Impact

• Mr. Michael Laurier, Chief Executive, Symphony Environmental Ltd

• Mr. Brian Sullivan, Program Manager, Google Ocean and Outreach, Google

6:15 PM – 6:30 PM
Wrap-up: Looking Ahead – the Road to September:

• H.E. Mr. Stuart Beck, Ambassador for Oceans and Seas, Palau and President,
Ocean Sanctuary Alliance

• Mr. Mark Newhouse, Chairman, Ocean Sanctuary Alliance

The Symposium Organizers are very grateful to the Governments of Italy and Monaco for their continued support

and engagement.

The symposium was moderated by Mr. Amir Dossal, who is Chairman of the Global Partnerships Forum and Co-Founder of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance.   H.E. Stuart Beck, Ambassador for Oceans and Seas for Palau set the stage for the event in his opening remarks.  Converging forces – the establishment ofSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, growing consensus in the scientific community, improved technologies, and a heightened sense among members states that something must be done for the ocean, make this a unique and historic time for the ocean.

The Honorable Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, gave an impassioned statement on ocean protection, reiterating his commitment to create the first nation-wide marine sanctuary in Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone.  President Remengesau called on nations to pass SDG 14 and get to work, “because the current path leads to a world with no fish.” He thanked Italy and Monaco for their financial commitments to support Palau in its establishment of its sanctuary, and asked developed nations to assist island states in the creation and maintenance of marine protected areas.  Financial assistance is needed to offset the loss of revenue from fishing access agreements in the near term. Surveillance and monitoring using advanced technologies are needed for proper implementation of sanctuaries. 


Importantly, the President noted that scientists must guide the marine sanctuary process and “Ignite a movement to help us fortify and expand existing sanctuaries, identify where new sanctuaries are required, and thus regenerate our fish stocks in the 15 year period in which the ocean goal is to be realized.” He proposed “the formal establishment of a scientific body with representatives from every region in the world under U.N. auspices to set the course” and invited those scientists to use Palau, one of the most pristine areas in the world, as a laboratory.  

A panel of world-renowned scientists from several nations was convened and chaired by Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Professor at Stony Brook University, Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, and Board Member of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance. Panel members included (in alphabetical order):

  • Dr. Pablo Borboroglu, President and Founder, Global Penguin Society, Patagonia, Argentina;
  • Dr. Yossi Loya, Professor Emeritus, The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University;
  • Dr. Lance Morgan, President, Marine Conservation Institute;
  • Professor Callum Roberts, Marine Conservation Biologist, University of York;
  • Dr. Julia Xue, Chair Professor, Executive Director, KoGuan Law School, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Dr. Pikitch opened the session by citing statistics showing that there have been steep declines observed in some key fish populations, about 90% decreases for large-bodied species, and up to 99% for some particularly high-valued tuna species. Despite such sobering information, however, awareness of the problems and potential solutions is growing. She noted that the ocean does have the capacity to heal, if we make the right interventions citing Atlantic swordfish as an example of a species that recovered due to international collaboration on a 10-year rebuilding plan which included sanctuaries to protect breeding and nursery grounds.  Dr. Pikitch further noted that ocean sanctuaries are an underutilized tool.  More than 99% of the ocean is open to fishing.  And, whereas there are more than 11,000 ocean sanctuaries in over 135 countries, collectively, they cover only about 2.12% of the ocean surface.

The five other panel members provided a wealth of evidence for the effectiveness of ocean sanctuaries in replenishing fish populations, based on scholarly publications, fieldwork, and case studies. Dr. Callum Roberts pointed out that “big fish are the engines of reproduction,” and where areas of protection have been established and enforced, a positive response has been seen. Drs. Loya, Xue, and Borboroglu focused on marine protected area success stories—for instance, how they can protect important ecosystems and wildlife such as coral reefs and penguins, and how they are being used within densely populated coastal areas such as within China.  Recent research has revealed that the value of leaving fish and other marine wildlife in the water may exceed the value of extracting them.   In addition, sanctuaries can provide significant revenues and employment opportunities in the tourism sector.  One contrast that emerged is the amount of the ocean that needs to be protected, versus how much is actually protected. An analysis by Dr. Roberts suggests that one-third of the oceans should be protected to achieve desired benefits, while a Dr. Morgan showed that 2.12% of the ocean currently receives some level of protection.

An important outcome of this event was the strong sentiment of support expressed for passage of a stand-alone goal for the ocean (SDG 14) at the United Nations this year.  In particular, representatives reaffirmed their commitment to work together to keep ocean issues high on the global agenda and to reach the target of 10% of the ocean in sanctuaries by 2020. Diplomats representing more than twenty individual nations, and the EU and AOSIS were in attendance, and those making verbal remarks included:

  • H.E. Mr. Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations
  • H.E. Dr. Elliston Rahming, Permanent Representative of Bahamas to the United Nations and Chairman, Save Our Shark Coalition
  • H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, and former Chair of the Group of 77 and China
  • H.E. Mr. Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
  • H.E. Ms. Isabelle Picco, Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations
  • H.E. Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations, and Chair of AOSIS
  • H.E. Mr. Per Thöresson, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations
  • H.E. Mr. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, introduced by H.E. Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations
  • H.E. Mr. Karel Jan Gustaaf van Oosterom, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

Mark Newhouse, Chairman of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, pointed out that even with the implementation of marine sanctuaries, there will still be places to commercially fish in the ocean; but a larger percentage must be protected in order to avoid a world with no fish at all.

In closing, Ambassador Beck said, "What we have [with these converging forces} is an opportunity. And if we don’t take the opportunity, where will we be in 15 years?” “Scientists have known what to do, by an overwhelming majority. The political will has not been there to make it happen. Here we have the science; let’s make sure the political will is there too, to accomplish the regeneration of the oceans for the benefit of all mankind. What an extraordinary thing, that we as a UN can accomplish this. It involves the commons, and a responsibility of all of ours.”