UN Ocean Conference: 198 countries adopt Lisbon Declaration

Members envisioned preventing and reducing marine pollution, capacity building in developing countries

By Rohini Krishnamurthy
Published: Monday 04 July 2022

All 198 members of the United Nations unanimously adopted July 1, 2022 the Lisbon Declaration on ocean conservation. 

The nations, on the last day of the UN Ocean Conference 2022, committed to follow science-based and innovative actions on an urgent basis

They also recognised that developing countries, particularly small island developing states and least developed countries, need assistance with capacity building.

“We need all hands on deck to stop the decline of ocean health,” Miguel de Serpa Soares, under-secretary-general and UN legal counsel, said during the conference. 

Participants at the conference also agreed to work on preventing, reducing and controlling marine pollution. It includes:

  • Nutrient pollution
  • Untreated wastewater
  • Solid waste discharges
  • Hazardous substances
  • Emissions from the maritime sector, including shipping, shipwrecks
  • Anthropogenic underwater noise

Other pledges include developing and promoting innovative financing solutions to help create sustainable ocean-based economies as well as expanding nature-based solutions to help conserve and preserve coastal communities.

Adoption of the draft, Soares added, sends a strong signal to urgently improve the health, sustainable use and resilience of the ocean.

This is not an achievement; what truly matters is implementing them, Keisha Amiya McGuire, the Grenadian permanent representative to the UN, said during the closing ceremony of the conference.

In the final draft of the declaration, member nations expressed regret for failing to achieve targets set for 2020. “We renew our commitment to taking urgent action and cooperating at global, regional and sub-regional levels to achieve all targets as soon as possible without undue delay,” the document read.

Member nations have also committed to empowering women and girls, recognising their participation is crucial to building a sustainable ocean-based economy and achieving the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goal 14.

“Restoring harmony with nature through a healthy, productive, sustainable and resilient ocean is critical for our planet, our lives and our future,” the document read.

The representatives called upon all stakeholders to urgently take ambitious and concerted action to accelerate implementation to achieve Goal 14 as soon as possible..

The conference has set the stage for the fifth session of the intergovernmental conference on an international legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. 

The fifth round of negotiations to implement the international treaty will be held in New York from August 15-26, 2022.

It aims to protect biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, which lie outside the 200-mile (322-kilometre) exclusive economic zones of countries.

Peter Thomson, UN secretary-general’s special envoy for the ocean, said participants expect to get the finance for solutions discussed in Lisbon at the 27th Conference of Parties (CoP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It will be held in Egypt in November this year.

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