United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

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United Nations Ocean Conference
New York, 5-9 June 2017
Statement by Massimo Tommasoli
Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the United Nations
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the last few days we have been witnessing the realization of the
first global international mobilization on our oceans, seas and marine
resources as a key element for sustainable development. As an
international organisation with the mandate to support sustainable
democracy worldwide, International IDEA stresses the importance of
democratic accountability for SDG 14 and the achievement of its
targets. A logic of mere exploitation of the ocean as a commodity, and
extraction of its resources, would never achieve marine pollution
reduction, coastal and marine conservation, ecosystem protection and
restoration, sustainable use of marine resources and fishing, and the
end of subsidies contributing to overfishing.
Firstly, since the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is peoplecentered,
the engagement of people and local communities in its
implementation should be based on the concept of active citizenship.
People should not be considered simply as producers and consumers of
commodities and marine resources, but also as citizens. If framed in this
perspective, democratic accountability mechanisms should be placed at
the core of the relationship between states and citizens for promoting
national plans for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans. The
principle of democratic control by citizens on such resources should
drive the translation of commitments into action. This is in line with the
emphasis placed by the Call for Action on the importance of national
ownership and the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, including
national and local authorities, members of parliament, local
communities and other actors.
Secondly, as indicated in the Call for Action, coherence and integration
across the SDG framework should highlight the synergies, cross-cutting
dimensions, and interlinkages among different SDGs that can help
Member States to deliver on the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Among the
many goals relevant for SDG 14, I would like to underscore the
importance of SDG 12 on responsible production and consumption, SDG
5 on gender equality, and SDG 16 on peace, justice and accountable
Thirdly, it is encouraging to note that action has already started. Over
1000 voluntary commitments have been registered so far in the website
of the Ocean Conference. However, language matters. While the
importance of parliaments has been underscored in the Call for Action,
a key-word search on the voluntary commitments shows that only 2 of
them explicitly refer to "parliaments" or "parliamentarians." Only 15
mention "transparency"; only 6 refer to "accountability;" and only 7
highlight "human rights". Furthermore, these figures would be even
smaller if we would limit the analysis exclusively to the voluntary
commitments made by Member States.
In conclusion, at the time of the adoption of this historic Call for Action,
it is important for all the actors involved in the implementation of the
2030 Agenda, and in particular those responsible for the achievement
of SDG 14, to make sure that national plans and international
commitments live up to the level of ambition expressed by the
Conference. Let's make our institutions accountable for more resilient
oceans. I thank you, Mr President.