United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Inte rvention
The Republic of Vanuatu
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
Partnership Dialogue 3: Minimizing and Addressing Ocean Acidification
Delivered by the Hon. Scremaiah Matai NA WALU, Minister of Agriculture,
Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Bio-security
(New York, 6 June 2017)
Distinguished representatives,
I have the pleasure to del iver my brief intervention on behalf of the people and the
Government of the Republic of Vanuatu.
At the outset, I wish to congratulate the two co-chairs on your appointments. You have my
delegation's full trust and confidence.
The ocean forms an important part of our natural and cultural heritage. For Pacific
Islanders, this gives rise to a unique and intrinsic relationship between our people and the
ocean. For thousands of years, our people have relied on the ocean for its healthy, nutritious
food , as an economic driver. for job creation, for safe movement and a p lace for safe
But over time, marine resources have become susceptible to human induced activities and
impacts, diminishing their health, productivity and resilience. Marine pollution,
overfishing, climate change, global warming among other factors have drastically
increased the susceptibility of coastal and marine resources.
I have no doubt in my mind that ocean acidification has very serious consequences for
marine life especially those that require calcium carbonate to thrive. This has dire
consequences for species that rely on them for food having serious ramifications of the
food chain. Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of increasing atmospheric carbon
dioxide concentrations. As the largest carbon sink, the ocean absorbs the bulk of carbon
emissions. The result ofincreasing carbon dioxide concentrations is a demonstrable decline
in the pH of the ocean causing serious harm to coral reefs, fish and shell-forming
At current carbon dioxide emission rate, coral reefs and marine ecosystems will very likely
be severely affected by the mid-21 st Century most notably through the decline in marine
food supplies exerting pressure on food production and security. It is a serious concern for
SIDS especially as significant portions of our populations depend on the ocean for protein,
human health and wellbeing let alone survival.
We recognize that the only practical solution to alleviate ocean acidification is to reduce
the build-up of carbon dioxide. This means taking the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
seriously and delivering on the Nationally Determined Contributions each country has
We are of the view that maintaining a close vigilance of the changing marine chemistry is
crucial and we applaud and are inspired by the many international scientific research and
monitoring efforts with regards to ocean acidification. But what concerns us is the accuracy
and timeliness of measuring and monitoring marine chemistry, a process that is technology
intensive and costly. Many Small Island Developing States including Vanuatu lack this
type of technology that allows up-to-date information on the changing chemistry of the
ocean surrounding us, hindering useful policy direction.
Addressing ocean acidification is everybody's business as it affects everyone. The
geographic expansion of existing monitoring and research is therefore necessary to effect
critical and informed policy decisions.

Given the limited focus of existing research in the Pacific region, we wish to suggest
mainstreaming of research and monito1ing efforts in sub-national, national, regional and
international programmes which could include a regional system devoted to the collection
and dissemination of data including targeted research on the impact of ocean acidification
on key species critical to strengthening the socio-economic wellbeing of small islands. This
will require strong partnership and collaborative approaches given the complexity of this
I am pleased to inform this august gathering that in the spirit of partnership and
collaboration Vanuatu, only last week, formally engaged bilaterally with the IAEA to
consider and commence potential activities to address ocean acidification in our country
that entail research, technical assistance and capacity building. From a regional approach,
the Secretariat of the Pacific Community also formally engaged with the IAEA to consider
a regional programme of activities to address ocean acidification in the Pacific. We
welcome more of such partnerships.
In conclusion, it is obvious that we need to employ a three-pronged approach to addressing
ocean acidification if we are to achieve the sustainable development goals we have set
ourselves. Urgent interventions are required at the international multilateral level, research
and monitoring level and immediate action on the ground.
At the international multilateral level, we need all key stakeholders to advance the Paris
Agreement given that ocean acidification is inextricably linked to carbon dioxide
emissions. We must not tum our backs on the principal of common but differentiated
responsibilities and respective capabilities.
At the technical research and monitoring level we need to adopt a one ocean approach
where no regional ocean is left behind. A one ocean approach will foster a true concerted
effort towards linking science with policy and resilience building through informed
decision making. Finally, if we are to give our oceans a fighting chance, immediate action
is necessary on the ground to address the existing stressors that further increase the
vulnerability of our oceans and ocean eco-systems.
We believe the stepping stone to a new sustainable development pathway for our oceans is
partnership - existing partnerships that need to be strengthened and new, genuine
partnerships that need to be forged, for our ocean, for human kind and for all life on Earth
critical to our very existence.
I thankyou.