United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Cuba

REPUBLICA DE CUBA
Misl6n Pennanente ante las Naciones Unidas
315 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y.10016
Statement by the Cuban Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and
Environment, H.E. Mr. Jose Fidel Santana Nunez, Head of the Cuban delegation to
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".
New York, 7 June 2017.
Distinguished Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ministers, Heads of Delegations,
Delegates,
We attend this Conference with the satisfaction to appreciate that the concern for the
health of our oceans and seas has succeeded in convening us here in order to
strengthen the unity of action and support for achieving Sustainable Development Goal
14, aimed at "preserving and using, in a sustainable way, the oceans, seas and marine
resources for sustainable developmenr.
The oceans absorb approximately 25% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans,
cushioning the impacts of global warming, and constitute the world's largest source of
protein, with more than 3 billion people dependent on them as a primary source of life,
especially in small island developing states.
Therefore, Cuba attaches great importance to the fulfillment of this Goal; as well as the
remaining 16 goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The
adoption of this Agenda is a milestone in the work of the United Nations, as it is the
document that will guide the actions of the international community towards sustainable
development in the next 15 years.
In order to ensure its compliance, great challenges must be overcome and work needs
to be done to make sure that no one is left behind; particularly in view of the fact that its
previous agenda: the Millennium Development Goals were not fully met. Despite the
progress made in complying with these goals, many debts remained; great inequalities
persist within and between countries as well as huge challenges to achieving
sustainable development.
Over twenty years ago, the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,
with his farsighted thinking expressed at the first World Conference on the Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States in Barbados on May 5, 1994, and I
quote:
"Sustainable growth is impossible without a more just distribution among all countries.
There can be no sustainable growth for one part of the world and underdevelopment for
all others. Whether we want it or not, today, mankind is a single family, and we will all
have the same fate ... " (end of quote).
Let us consciously join forces to solve the problems that affect our oceans and seas.
Pollution by waste from different land and sea sources, the acidification of the seas,
illegal fishing and overfishing are part of these problems.
Additionally, 40% of the oceans are heavily affected by human activity, including
pollution, depleted fishing grounds, and loss of coastal habitats.
According to estimates, about 9.1 million tons of plastic moves directly from land to sea
each year; thousands of marine mammals die due to plastic; 80 percent of seabirds
have at some point ingested it and estimated 99% of seabirds will have done so by
2050.
The images of the giant islands of floating plastic are just the tip of the iceberg of the
billions of microfragments of this almost indestructible material, which accumulate on
the bottom of the oceans. Plastic is already part of a severely threatened marine
ecosystem.
The 7 goals of SDG 14 establish commitments on these problems and only with their
strict compliance could the growing deterioration of marine resources be stopped and
reversed.
However, in order to ensure that developing countries are able to meet these
commitments, it is imperative that they have the necessary means of implementation.
Environmentally sound management of waste, clean-up activities, knowledge and
identification of marine litter trajectories, recycling of waste, introduction of reusable,
recyclable or biodegradable products and solutions to climate change adaptation in
coastal areas require advanced technologies, scientific knowledge and financing, which
we do not have and should be provided on preferential conditions to meet these goals
on a timely basis. The most industrialized countries have the moral duty, the financial
and technological means and the historical responsibility to accompany us in this
purpose.
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Likewise, the management, protection, conservation and recovery of marine
ecosystems are complex and costly, even much more than that of terrestrial
ecosystems, with an impact of factors such as the existence of a relatively less
knowledge on these ecosystems, the highly specialized infrastructure and equipment
required as well as enhanced staff training.
Cuba's modest experience in relation to goal 14.5 of conserving at least 10% of coastal
and marine areas reaffirms the previous statement. Today, we have the goal
accomplished, as 18.9% of our marine surface is managed as a protected area, thanks
to the priority attention and political will in addressing this issue as well as the
partnerships established through projects funded by the Global Environment Facility
and non-governmental organizations.
Another example of our government's political will has been the recent adoption of the
State Plan to Tackle Climate Change in the Republic of Cuba, in which the most current
and outstanding advances in Cuban science are turned into strategic actions and tasks
to be gradually implemented over time. Several of them aim at recovering major
protectors of our shorelines: sandy beaches, mangroves and coral reefs; as well as
minimizing pollution of the bays that are the most affected in the country by land-based
polluting sources.
Mr. Chairman,
Although it is true that every State must take on more responsibility for its own
development, that responsibility is not enough. It requires the will and commitment of
the international community.
Let us establish an international mechanism to facilitate the transfer of environmentally
friendly technologies to developing countries under favorable terms.
Let us fulfill the commitments to Official Development Aid on a stable and increasing
basis.
Let us reduce world military spending, which, according to studies, ensures that a little
less than half of that expenditure would be enough to reach most of the SDGs.
Let us effectively apply the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities
between developed and developing countries, reaffirmed among the principles of the
2030 Agenda. ·
Let us ensure clean oceans and seas for future generations to use marine biodiversity
for their livelihood and development.
Thank you very much.
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