United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Statement of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
United Nations Ocean Conference, 5-9 June 2017, New York
Delivered by Dr. Cyriaque Sendashonga
Global Director, Policy and Programme, IUCN
Excellencies, Distinguished Participants,
It is my honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the International Union for
Conservation of Nature - IUCN -- at this historic·UN Ocean Conference.
IUCN applauds the dedication of so many in this room, and outside, to halting and
reversing the decline of our ocean. IUCN welcomes the Call for Action to deliver
on the promise of SDG-14 that is to be adopted by this Conference. IUCN is
especially heartened by the reference to the UNFCCC Paris Agreement and sees
its implementation as vital for ensuring our ocean can continue to provide the
goods and services on which we so heavily depend. However, as a global
statement of political will, the Call to Action is only as good as our resolve, once
we leave this room, to put it into practice in our day-to-day work. To maintain
this momentum, IUCN is committed -- through our members, our broad network
of scientists, governments and NGOs, our Commissions and Secretariat - to do
our part in partnership with others.
For decades IUCN has worked at multiple levels - with international and regional
organizations, national and local governments, and communities and civil society
organizations - to safeguard and foster conservation, sustainable management
and use of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity. We forge partnerships
as a main vehicle for delivering concrete results on the ground, or rather in the
water. We are very pleased to see that building and strengthening partnerships is
one of the main elements of this Conference. We are contributing to that
outcome by deepening our collaboration with partners on many fronts.
Specifically, we have committed to scaling up our ambition through such global,
cross-sectorial partnerships as Mangroves For the Future, Blue Action Fund, the
International Blue Carbon Partnership, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in
Territories of European overseas (BEST), Friends of Ecosystem based Adaptation
(EbA), to name a few. Further, of course, as the holder of the world's Barometer
of Life, IUCN issues the IUCN Red List which documents the perilous path of the
state of the world's marine life.
But time is not on our side. The ocean is being stretched beyond its carrying
IUCN would like to stress six priority areas in which we, as global ocean stewards,
need to accelerate action if we are to achieve SDG 14 and related goals.
• First. We need to move swiftly to lower global greenhouse gas emissions
which continue to worsen the problem of ocean acidification, ocean
warming and de-oxygenation, leading to sea-level rise, with adverse
impacts on corals, shellfish and other marine life, and shifts in the ranges of
marine species.
• Second. We need to accelerate progress in extending and managing
representative networks of well-connected marine protected areas with
full, effective and equitable participation of local communities and respect
for the voice and rights of indigenous peoples.
• Third. We need to work tirelessly to end overfishing and support a
transition to sustainable fisheries which can continue to feed a growing
world population for generations to come, without depleting these
precious resources or undermining marine biodiversity or ecosystem
• Fourth. We need to end unsustainable practices that undermine the
integrity and resilience of marine and coastal ecosystems from the
seashore to the deepest trench, and the water column in between.
• Fifth. We need to tackle head-on and urgently the various sources of
marine pollution, from agriculture and sewage to plastics and microplastics
- especially as their accumulation impacts coastal communities' and other
people's health and the ecosystems on which we all depend.
• And finally sixth. We need to convene without delay an intergovernmental
conference to negotiate an international legally binding instrument under
UNCLOS to ensure a global regime for the conservation and sustainable use
of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.
In forging ahead, IUCN sees not merely threats but opportunities, in particular in
working with nature to address some of our biggest sustainable development
challenges. The ocean and its ecosystems offer multiple 'nature-based solutions'.
The use of the potential of coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrass
beds as 'blue carbon' to mitigate climate change while at the same time
enhancing resilience and adaptation capacity is just one example.
IUCN also recommends that due consideration be given to a robust follow-up
process needed to ensure that the momentum reflected in the current registry of
voluntary commitments is sustained, including the possibility of establishing a UN
Ocean Ombudsman or Special Rapporteur to provide the focus needed for
reviewing progress.
In closing, IUCN is looking forward to working with everyone so that the
commitments generated around this conference can be swiftly put into action to
solve the problems faced by the world's ocean for the benefit of our children and
I thank you for your kind attention.