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BNP Paribas On-line Discussion, Blue Economy: An Ocean of Opportunities? 

Closing Remarks by Ambassador Peter Thomson, UNSG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words to you today. As I think you know, I am the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and it is my role to lead the charge around the world on the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number fourteen, or SDG14 as its commonly known.

SDG14 was consensually agreed to by all 193 Member States of the United Nations back in 2015. It sets out to conserve and sustainably use the Ocean’s resources, based on ten targets relating to: tackling marine pollution; managing marine ecosystems; addressing Ocean acidification; ending overfishing, harmful fisheries subsidies, illegal fishing and destructive fishing; establishing marine protected areas; increasing economic benefits for disadvantaged parties (including artisanal fishers); advancing Ocean Science; and ensuring implementation of the Law of the Sea.

In 2017 at the United Nations in New York, the first UN Ocean Conference was held to support the faithful implementation of SDG14. Such was the success of that global gathering in mobilising Ocean action, that the UN Member States have now mandated the holding of a second UN Ocean Conference to be held next year in Lisbon.

The co-hosts of next year’s conference, the governments of Kenya and Portugal, are adamant that like its 2017 predecessor, the Lisbon conference will be a global-gamechanger in favour of SDG14’s implementation. I’d like to emphasize that when mandating the conference, the Member States of the United Nations placed particular focus on science, innovation, solutions and partnerships, all issues which I’m confident will lead us into a vibrant, inclusive week of discussions and decisions in Lisbon next year. I look forward to seeing you there.

There is one other thing I’d like to emphasize, because it’s at the heart of my work. It is my mantra that we can’t have a healthy planet without a healthy Ocean, and we know that the Ocean’s health is currently caught in a cycle of decline. Thus, in any international discussion on health and sustainability, or indeed on the planet’s Biodiversity’s plight, the Ocean must be front and centre. Why is that? Well, I ask you to think about the fact that every second breath you take comes from the Ocean; but even more significantly, it is because the Ocean hosts the great majority of Biodiversity, in other words Life, on this planet.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the heart of SDG14 is the Sustainable Blue Economy, an economy which contains all the elements of energy, health and nutrition we require for the future security of humanity. And so, rather than seeing this just through the lens of an economic imperative, I urge banks, insurers and investors to think of the situation as an economic opportunity and to recognise the major role they can play in financing the transition to a Sustainable Blue Economy.

And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ll conclude my short remarks today by commending the UNEP Finance Initiative for hosting of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles, thereby providing a gold-standard framework for Ocean financing and investment. I urge you all to take a good look at the 14 principles, for applying the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles will ensure that Ocean finance is always delivered with sustainability at its core, so that profitability goes hand-in-hand with environmental and social stewardship.

On behalf of the Ocean’s well-being, I call on financial institutions to take positive action on SDG14. And for a solid start, I urge them to sign the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles and to actively engage with UNEP’s Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative.

Thank you for your attention to my words.