United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development
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Call for voluntary commitments

Dear Colleagues, Partners and Friends,


This letter constitutes a universal call for a fresh round of voluntary commitments to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14), to conserve and sustainably use the ocean’s resources.

At the high-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14 (the UN Ocean Conference) held in June 2017 at the UN in New York, over 1,400 voluntary commitments for action to advance implementation of SDG14 were made by Governments, the United Nations system, civil society organizations, academia, the scientific community, and the private sector. These commitments, together with the Conference outcome document “Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action”, marked a global breakthrough in the awareness and action required to secure a sustainable relationship between humanity and the ocean.

An on-line registry was established for the voluntary commitments, and to date 1,667 commitments have been registered therein - an array of ocean action that covers all of the targets of SDG14. I bring to your attention that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) has conducted an analysis of the impacts of the voluntary commitments, entitled “An Assessment of Impacts of the Ocean Conference Voluntary Commitments,” which is available on the Conference website: https://sdgs.un.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/DESA-Oceans-VCs.pdf

Pursuant to UN General Assembly resolution 73/292 and decision 75/578, the 2022 UN Ocean Conference will now take place in Lisbon, Portugal from 27 June to 1 July. The overarching theme of the Conference is “Scaling up ocean action based on
science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions”. As one of the vital legacies of the 2017 UN Ocean Conference, existing voluntary commitments will be carried forward to the 2022 Conference to assist us all in the stocktaking element of the Conference. The on-line registry remains open to new commitments, and we wish to see many more added to the registry between now, as well as at, our global gathering in Lisbon in a little over three month’s time.

I call upon all willing parties to now mobilize your institutions, constituencies and networks to register existing and new ocean action initiatives as voluntary commitments. Managed by UNDESA, the registry for the commitments can be found on-line at https://sdgs.un.org/partnerships/action-networks/ocean-commitments.

I look forward to meeting you all in Lisbon in June, in a spirit of partnership, equipped with strong, transformative commitments and science-based, innovative solutions for SDG14’s full implementation. For the sake of those who come after us, let us make 2022 the year we stopped the decline in the ocean’s health, the year we restored our relationship with the ocean to one of balance, respect and sustainability.

Thank you in advance, for responding positively to this call,

Peter Thomson

UNSG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean