United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Plenary Session - Australia’s National Statement
Wednesday, 7 June 2017 (5 minutes)
Excellencies; distinguished delegates.
It is an honour to speak on how Australia is implementing
Sustainable Development Goal 14: to conserve and sustainably
use our oceans.
Australia is acutely aware that the health of our oceans underpins
the economic growth and sustainable development of our region.
Australia is an ocean nation, surrounded by the Indian, Pacific and
Southern oceans.
As any Australian can tell you, the beaches and oceans are a
significant part of our way of life.
Australia’s marine jurisdiction is the 3rd largest in the world,
encompassing around 14 million square kilometres.
3.3 million square kilometres of our marine jurisdiction are marine
protected areas: the largest in the world.
Protecting the oceans from marine pollution, particularly the
emerging issue of microplastic pollution, is a global challenge.
In the Pacific, the Australian Government provides funding to the
Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme.
The goal is for all members of this programme to minimise landbased
sources of pollution.
In that regard, I am pleased to highlight 2 of Australia’s voluntary
commitments to this conference.
Our government research body, CSIRO, is working on an
ambitious project to model the input of plastic into the oceans
from land.
This work has the potential to expand to a global scale and will
address the impact that marine debris and plastic waste has on
marine life.
Climate change is a global challenge and is already affecting the
health of the world’s oceans.
The global coral bleaching event that has been impacting coral
reefs around the world is an early warning signal of the threat of
climate change to our oceans.
Australia’s own Great Barrier Reef – one of the world’s greatest
natural treasures – has been impacted.
To build the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
launched the Reef 2050 Plan – a 35 year strategy backed by a
commitment of over $2 billion in funding over the next decade.
We are supporting innovative solutions that will boost farm
productivity while reducing nutrient runoff to the Reef and have
established the largest monitoring project of ocean chemistry in
the southern hemisphere.
We have also developed the first and largest water monitoring
system of its kind in the world, ‘e-Reefs’.
But these efforts must be accompanied by global action to address
climate change. Australia is doing its part.
Australia is pleased to have ratified both the Paris Agreement and
Doha Amendment, reaffirming our commitment to effective
global action on climate change. We are on time and on track to
meet our targets.
Regionally, we are also supporting countries to meet their Paris
targets, in particular through our support to the Pacific announced
by the Australian Prime Minister in Pohnpei last September.
We are integrating climate action across our aid program and have
committed $1 billion over 5 years to climate action.
Globally, we are working to unlock the trillions in climate finance
needed drive the global transition to a low carbon economy.
Through our co-chairing of the Green Climate Fund, we have
helped facilitate over USD 1 billion in climate finance covering 37
We are also sharing our expertise on coral reefs. Last year,
Australia and France launched a new Plan of Action for the
International Coral Reef Initiative focused building reef resilience.
Co-founded by Australia more than two decades ago, the
Initiative’s membership has grown to encompass the majority of
the world’s coral reefs.
Regionally, Australia is also proud to work with our partners in
the Pacific and Southern oceans to combat illegal, unreported and
unregulated fishing.
Illegal fishing costs the global community an estimated $23 billion
a year.
Australia is party to the Agreement on Port State Measures to
Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated
Fishing. We encourage others to join this agreement.
We recognise the threat that illegal fishing poses, so have agreed a
$4.4 million package of support over 4 years to build capacity in
the Forum Fisheries Agency and Pacific Island countries to
prevent, deter and eliminate illegal fishing.
Our commitment for collective action and ambition must find
expression in our enforcement of international law.
What we have – the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea –
provides the legal framework to address many of these challenges.
That is why I am proud to co-chair with Kenya later this week
Partnership Dialogue 7 on implementing international law as
reflected in the Convention.
In closing, Australia is committed to implementing Sustainable
Development Goal 14.
If we are to preserve the health of our oceans, we must reaffirm
our commitment to take action at all levels: domestically,
regionally and internationally.
We owe this to ourselves, to our children and our grandchildren,
and to the future we want together.
Thank you.