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The United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of
Sustainable Development Goal 14:
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine
resources for sustainable development
The 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 5-9 June 2017
Thank you, Mr. President,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to thank the United Nations for hosting this very important high
level Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.
Moreover, the Royal Government of Cambodia would like to extend its gratitude to the cochairs,
Governments of Fiji and Sweden for their dedicated leadership and commitment to
see this conference a success.
The significance of this meeting, coinciding with the World Oceans Day, cannot be lost on
future generations. The ocean plays a critical part in securing our livelihoods. It has an
essential role in safeguarding human well-being and advancing social and economic
development. The ocean provides vast resources, and many coastal communities depend
on healthy oceans for food, as well as financial sustainability. With this in mind, the global
community must ensure healthy sustainable preservation of the ocean together with its
limited resources.
In the background of the dramatically pronounced threat of climate change, the ocean
plays a vital role in safeguarding humans. Since 1970, 93% of global warming due to
emissions of greenhouse gases has been absorbed by the ocean, yet this formidable
force is now reaching its limits. Ocean warming is threatening animal and plant species,
modifying habitats and provoking shifts with serious impacts on fisheries, particularly in
the tropical regions like South East Asia.
The scale of the climate change challenge is enormous, but the ocean also faces other
threats. According to the FAQ, 88% of fish stocks are either overfished or are being fished
at their maximum sustainable level. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a
major issue in many areas, and developing countries often lack resources to efficiently
enforce fishing regulations in their maritime domains. Without strong, concerted action to
make fishing practices sustainable, the livelihoods and food security of hundreds of
millions of people stand at risk.
Mr. President
The Royal Government of Cambodia has also attached great importance to the marine
pollution issue. Most of it originates on land. Nutrient pollution creates zones where
marine life becomes near impossible. Marine debris, including plastic debris, also
threatens wildlife and create§. health and safety issues for us. Addressing this will require
major changes in behavior, particularly in the management of waste, agricultural practice,
and modes of consumption.
These are the challenges that SDG 14 is meant to address, through decisive action on
pollution, overfishing, and conservation efforts, all the while promoting sustainable
management of marine resources by linking the efforts to other complementary SDGs.
Given that 10% of the Cambodian population lives in coastal areas, my government is
highly aware of the importance of the ocean for our sustainable development agenda.
Cambodia's four coastal provinces and 60 islands play a crucial role in our economy, not
only for food security through fisheries, but also as a key area of tourism. Tourism is one
of the most important and profitable sectors of the Cambodian economy, yet our coastal
communities are impacted by the rising sea level through salt water intrusion, which
threatens existing agricultural practices, and undermines our sustainability efforts.
Mr. President,
The Royal Government of Cambodia takes these challenges very seriously and we have
adopted a number of measures in recent years to play our part in addressing the issues
affecting the ocean. In 2015, we have established the National Council on Sustainable
Development which coordinates our policies in support of the 2030 Sustainable
Development Agenda.
Cambodia's National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP 2014-2018) is strongly aligned
with the 2030 Agenda, and a recent UNDP analysis of the NSDP showed that 78% of
SDG targets are already reflected in Cambodia's development plans. The NSDP 2014-
2018 includes clear commitments and strategies for sustainable management of fisheries
and conservation of marine and coastal areas. To attain these commitments, the Royal
Government of Cambodia has established a dedicated Department of Marine and Costal
Areas Conservation, within the Ministry of Environment.
The country's first large scale marine protection area was launched in June 2016,
covering 405 square kilometers around the islands of Koh Rong. A number of other
coastal and marine conservation programs are underway, i_n partnership with
development partners and the private sector.
As it stands, we are currently finalizing the corresponding SDG indicators and targets for
Cambodia, which will provide a clear and transparent framework to monitor our progress.
And a new Environmental Code is being drafted, focused on strengthening the legal
framework for environmental management of coastal areas, as well as marine biodiversity
The Royal Government of Cambodia is strongly committed to integrating the ocean in our
sustainable development plans, yet we cannot achieve this alone. Technical and financial
support is required to scale-up our conservation efforts, help protect coastal communities
from the impacts of climate change, improve environmental waste management practices
in coastal areas, and strengthen the monitoring and policing of illegal maritime activities,
including IUU fishing.
I hope that we will be able to discuss partnerships in these areas with interested parties in
attendance today. And I wish this conference a great success.
Thank you, Mr. President.