Written by Janina Korting, Blue Solutions Initiative
The high-level UN Conference to support the implementation of SDG 14 was held from 5 – 9 June at UN Headquarters in New York. Co-hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Sweden, nearly 4,000 participants from governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, financial institutions, civil society, academic and research institutions, indigenous peoples and local communities, and the private sector attended the 5-day event. As a result the conference produced three outcomes: an intergovernmentally agreed Call for Action, a registry of 1346 voluntary commitments and key messages from the seven partnership dialogues.
Blue Solutions was happy to take part in this milestone event towards sustainable ocean management and grateful for the opportunity to (co-)organize several sessions, such as the Blue Solutions Market Place – a side event that took place in the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN on Thursday, 8 June. The 90min session provided an opportunity to get a first glimpse at this approach of exchanging experiences and supporting their re-use across regions.
Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles, shared how Blue Solutions allowed him to learn about a successful sponge farming project in Zanzibar and how this inspired him to look into the development of sponge culture in the Seychelles. He invites the experts from Zanzibar to bring their lessons learned and experience to the Seychelles, where he, on the other hand, can provide insight on the success factors of their successful coral restoration program, which is of great interests to Zanzibar. This example of a successful exchange and uptake of experiences was followed by a live exchange of experiences and challenges in the spatial planning and management of marine and coastal areas. In Brazil a process for spatial planning and management of two large areas along the country’s coast has just been initiated and Larissa Godoy from the Ministry of Environment of Brazil introduced the goals and planned process of this TerraMar project. She also stated the main challenges the project has identified such as the strengthening of the spatial perspective in strategies towards the conservation and
sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity. Minh Nguyen Binh, Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands could respond to these challenges and shared some of the success factors and lessons learned in integrated coastal zone management in the Mekong Delta. He highlighted the importance for a strong backing and comprehensive national legal framework as a key element of their successful work in the past years. In a pre-recorded presentation, Jon Day, James Cook University, Australia, introduced the rezoning that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park underwent in the early 2000s, which successes heavily relied on the use of best available scientific knowledge, a high level of public participation, effective leadership as well as consequent socio-political support. These specific responses and experiences from Vietnam and Australia clearly showcased how lessons learned from one context can be relevant to another setting, and the Blue Solutions team will further support an exchange between these three parties, which has already started. In a panel discussion, Mark
Spalding form The Ocean Foundation reiterated the importance of such opportunities to exchange knowledge and learn from one another as there is a wealth of success stories out there, which need to be communicated and shared effectively. Cathy Demesa, Rare’s Alumni manager for the Philippines, took the chance to share how she has supported success stories being shred and taken up in the Philippines through social marketing campaigns. In a statement by Jens Ambsdorf from the Lighthouse Foundation the importance of sharing and multiplying good examples was highlighted and the foundation pledges to support the upcoming market place event in 2018. In a discussion with the audience it became clear that there is a large interest in the larger market place event that Blue Solutions is planning to organize early 2018 and to see this approach growing.