UN-backed summit pledges to save oceans, promote 'blue growth', food security

Improved governance, eliminitaion of harmful subsidies on fishing, sharing of knowledge and solutions through information technology are a few decisions taken

By Vani Manocha
Published: Monday 28 April 2014

Healthy oceans have a central role to play in solving one of the biggest problems of the 21st century – how to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Photo: FAOi

About 80 countries of the world agreed to on Friday that climate change, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution are the key threats to oceans across the world and decided to collectively tackle them. The agreement was reached at a four-day event, Global Oceans Action Summit for Blue Growth and Food Security, in The Hague.  
The event, that was a joint initiative of the government of the Netherlands, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank, also brought together ocean science experts and members of the civil society.

“This week the world didn’t just show courage,” said Sharon Dijksma, chairperson of the event. “It showed especially that it’s ready for action to tackle overfishing, climate change and pollution. That is exactly what the world needs right now, as only then will fish and healthy oceans still be able to provide for hundreds of millions of people after 2030,” she added.

World Bank representative, Valerie Hickey, said, “This summit has presented the way forward for a new type of growth – blue growth which is sustainable, equitable and takes the value of the ocean’s ecosystem services into account.” The official also added that it is important to help countries to undertake natural capital accounting of their ocean resources so they can begin to realize real returns from their ocean assets in a sustainable way. These returns benefit to those local communities and small-scale fishers, who rely for food security for their livelihoods – for their income – on the oceans.

The Indian Ocean

Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Marine Stewardship Council agreed to start work on a certification scheme for specific fish species in the Indian Ocean. Other commitments, including a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on oceans as part of the post-2015 development framework, eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity were also made at the conference.

Building on existing partnerships like the Global Partnership for Oceans and sharing of knowledge, experiences and solutions through information and communications technology and focus on improving governance were a few other promises made at the summit.

More than 10 new commitments for cross-boundary partnering announced at the summit included:

Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to start work on a certification scheme for specific fish species in the Indian Ocean.

Rockefeller Foundation and the Netherlands pledging funding support to WorldFish and FAO to produce a Roadmap for the Future of Fish.

A tripartite collaboration programme between the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in Indonesia, the Netherlands Government and Wageningen University for enhancing the availability and accessibility of safe fish products and reduction of food waste.

The International Sustainability Unit of the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Foundation launched the development of financing guidelines for fishery recovery.

Report: Climate change adaptation in fisheries and aquaculture

Report: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 2012

Report: Avoiding future famines: strengthening the ecological foundation of food security through sustainable food systems

Guidelines: Voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security

Feature: Green, blue and true

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