United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


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Statement by
Mr. Jóhann Sigurjónsson,
Special Envoy on Ocean Affairs,
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14
Preparatory Meeting
15 February 2017
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for this opportunity to share with you our priorities when it comes to
the elements of the Call for Action to be negotiated during the next few months
and adopted by consensus at the Ocean Conference in June.
Our work on this important document must be based on resolution 70/303,
which stipulates the modalities for the Conference. Operational paragraph 16 of
the resolution lays down that the declaration shall be concise, focused and
intergovernmentally agreed. Its fundamental focus is to support the
implementation of Goal 14.
My delegation emphasizes that the Call for Action should have a comprehensive
approach given the interlinkage of all the targets under Goal 14. In our view the
document should not be negotiated target by target, but should aim to create
synergies between them.
The mandate of the Conference is to support the implementation of SDG14 by
bringing together innovative ideas and partnerships. Importantly the Conference
should not renegotiate prior agreements or resolutions. Further it should honor
the many existing mechanisms and processes related to the oceans.
In practice this means that the Call for Action should recognize the central role of
the High-level Political Forum in the implementation, follow-up and review of
Goal 14, as well as that of the various UN departments, agencies and processes
that already exist in the field of oceans. The Call for Action should also recognize
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the on-going BBNJ-process but may not in any way prejudge its outcome, as
mentioned in operative paragraph 21 of the modalities resolution.
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is the cornerstone of all activities
concerning the oceans. The Call for Action should call for wider implementation
of UNCLOS and related instruments. It is important to recognize the capacity of
the current regime, with adequate implementation and monitoring, to address
current challenges. The regime is in many aspects built upon regional
implementation of the principles enshrined in the Convention. This should be
reflected in the Call for Action.
Sustainable fisheries management is essential to secure effective use of marine
resources. Iceland has been among leading nations in developing science-based
management of marine resources where the key elements for success are
scientific knowledge, well developed system of distributing fisheries rights in the
form of catch limitations and efficient enforcement system. Although fisheries
management has often failed in the past it is important to recognize that in the
future the situation can be brought under control by applying current knowledge
and experience. In our attempts to sustainably manage our oceans MPAs will
play a role as a part of a wider range of available tools, but importantly such
activities need to be based on the best available science.
In order to realize our full potential in reaching the sustainable development
goals we have to recognize the need for capacity building and transfer of
technology. Capacity building includes the overall implementation of UNCLOS,
sharing of relevant sustainable practices, increased regional cooperation and
development of infrastructure that enables effective monitoring of compliance.
For this to happen we need increased financing, viable and innovative
partnerships and additional focus on and access to research and development.
The universality of the SDGs should be the guiding light in all our work. The Call
for Action should therefore recognize and call for awareness-raising of the
contribution of healthy oceans to the achievement of other goals. Various crosscutting
factors also have a large role to play for the success of our work. My
delegation would like to underline gender equality and women’s empowerment
as a vital prerequisite for the achievement of all the sustainable development
goals. As regards oceans, this would include access of women to small-scale
fisheries and consequently important contribution to food security and poverty
Healthy oceans and robust marine ecosystems remain a constant concern for
Iceland, a nation of seafarers and fishermen through generations. International
cooperation towards that aim is a longstanding priority for us. We look forward
to engaging constructively with all of you in the coming months on this
important issue.