The high-level 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 was convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017, coinciding with World Oceans Day, to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. The Governments of Fiji and Sweden have the co-hosting responsibilities of the Conference.
The Conference aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. It will be solutions-focused with engagement from all.
The Conference raised global consciousness on ocean issues, produced strong ambitious outcomes, including an intergovernmentally agreed political declaration “Our ocean, our future: call for action”, the co-chairs’ summaries of seven partnership dialogues, and over 1400 voluntary commitments from Governments, the UN system, IGOs, the Major Groups and other stakeholders - individually or in partnership – to advance the implementation of SDG 14 and related targets. The political declaration “Our ocean, our future: call for action” was adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017 through resolution A/71/312.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and consists of a new global framework for financing sustainable development.
The conference convened to (1) assess the progress made in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration; (2) address new and emerging issues; and (3) reinvigorate and strengthen the financing for development follow-up process. Launched in October 2014, the intergovernmental preparatory process of the Conference consisted of substantive informal sessions and informal interactive hearings with civil society and the business sector through March 2015, as well as drafting sessions on the outcome document in January, April and June 2015.
Held in Sendai, City, Japan from 14 to 18 March 2015, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction convened to complete the assessment and review of the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
The conference was also seen as an opportunity to observe the experience gained through the regional and national strategies/institutions and plans for disaster risk reduction and their recommendations as well as relevant regional agreements within the implementation of the Hyogo Framework of Action.
The SDGs and targets are integrated and indivisible, global in nature and universally applicable, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.
Targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances.
Each government will also decide how these aspirational and global targets should be incorporated in national planning processes, policies and strategies.
It is important to recognize the link between sustainable development and other relevant ongoing processes in the economic, social and environmental fields. Goal 8 in particular aims at promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
In December 2015, the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21/CMP1) convened in Paris, France, and adopted the Paris Agreement, a universal agreement whose aim is to keep a global temperature rise for this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The Agreement recognizes that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries, and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States was held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.
The overarching theme of the conference was "The sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships".
The SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway (Samoa Pathway) adopted at the Conference addresses priority areas for SIDS and calls for urgent actions and support for SIDS’ efforts to achieve their sustainable development.
With the adoption of “Future We Want”, the outcome document of the Rio +20 conference, held from 20 to 22 June 2012, Member States decided “to establish a universal intergovernmental high-level political forum, building on the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive participation modalities of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and subsequently replacing the Commission.
The high-level political forum shall follow up on the implementation of sustainable development and should avoid overlap with existing structures, bodies and entities in a cost-effective manner.”
The High-level Political Forum on sustainable development is today the main United Nations platform on sustainable development. It provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations.
It follows up and reviews the implementation of sustainable development commitments and, as of 2016, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It addresses new and emerging challenges; promotes the science-policy interface and enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - or Rio+20 - took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 20-22 June 2012.
It resulted in a focused political outcome document which contains clear and practical measures for implementing sustainable development.
In Rio, Member States decided, inter alia, to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were to build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post-2015 development agenda.
The GA decided to conduct a 5-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States during its 65th Session and identified as priorities issues the strengthening of data management capacities for SIDS monitoring and evaluation, the enhancement of strategic partnerships, the assessment of the UN System effectiveness in supporting SIDS, the need for resulted-oriented approaches and improvement of measures to effectively address SIDS’s vulnerabilities and the possibility of recognizing SIDS as a special category within the UN System.
The Outcome document of the High-level Review Meeting on the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States was published under A/RES/65/2.
In the framework of the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action, the General Assembly mandated, by Resolution A/57/262, the organization of the high level Mauritius International Meeting.
Held at the beginning of 2005, the meeting produced the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the BPOI. Aware of the challenges still faced by SIDS in the implementation of the programme, especially limited financial resources and the reduction in the official development assistance, the document listed a set of 19 priorities areas.
Apart from the 14 BPOA thematic areas, the other 5 were graduation from least developed country status, trade, sustainable production and consumption (as called for by the JPOI), health, knowledge management, and culture.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in 2002, brought together tens of
thousands of participants, including
heads of State and Government,
national delegates and leaders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
businesses and other major groups
to focus the world's attention and direct action toward meeting difficult challenges, including improving people's lives and conserving our natural resources in a world that is growing in population, with ever-increasing demands for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security.
The State of Progress and Initiatives for the Future Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, adopted by the 22th GA Special Session held in September 1999, aimed at reviewing and appraising the implementation of the BPOA and in this context highlighted six problem areas requiring urgent action.
The identified areas were respectively: climate change, natural and environmental disasters and climate variability, freshwater resources, coastal and marine resources, energy and tourism.
The Special Session also focused on the strategies to be adopted for the BPOA implementation and in particular on resource mobilization and finance, sustainable development strategies, resource development, capacity building, globalization and trade liberalization, transfer of environmentally sounded technology; a vulnerability index; information management through strengthening the SIDS Network; and international cooperation and partnership.
A GA Special Session (UNGASS-19) was held in June 1997 in order to review and assess progress undergone on Agenda 21. With Resolution A/RES/S-19/2 delegates agreed on the adoption of the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21.
The Programme appraised progress since the UNCED, examined implementation and defined the CSD’s work programme for the period 1998-2002.
For the CSD’s subsequent four sessions, poverty and consumption and production patterns were identified as dominant issues for each year by the work programme.
Delegates also agreed on the sectoral, cross-sectoral and economic sector/major group themes, endorsed the IPF’s outcome and recommended a continuation of the intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests. Subsequently, the Intergovernmental Forum on Forest (IFF) was established by ECOSOC under the CSD.
The Bardados Programme of Action, adopted during the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS held in Barbados in 1994, defines the priorities, the cross-sectoral areas as well as the actions and strategies to be undertaken at national, regional and global level to ensure the sustainable development of SIDS.
The 14 priorities, identified by the BPOA, are the following: climate change and sea- level rise, natural and environmental disasters, management of wastes, coastal and marine resources, freshwater resources, resources, energy resources, tourism resources, biodiversity resources, national institutions and administrative capacity, regional institutions and technical cooperation, transport and communication, science and technology and human resource development.
As cross-sectoral areas, the Programme recognizes capacity building; institutional development at the national, regional and international levels; cooperation in the transfer of environmentally sound technologies; trade and economic diversification; and finance.
With the adoption of Resolution 47/191, the General Assembly agreed on the creation of the Commission on Sustainable Development.
Considered as the high-level forum for sustainable development within the UN System, the Commission was designed to follow –up on the progress in implementation of the UN Earth Summit and on the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation at international, regional and local level.
"As main outcome of the Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio in 1992, Agenda 21 calls for a global partnership able to address the problems of the present and prepare the International Community for the challenges of the upcoming century.
Bearing in mind the perpetuation of disparities laying between and within nations, the worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which humanity depends for their well-being, Agenda 21 identifies integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them as leading factors for the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems".
With the adoption, on 19 December 1983, of Resolution 38/161, the General Assembly welcomed the establishment of a special commission, later known as the World Commission on Environment and Development working on a report on environment and proposed strategies for sustainable development.
In the same resolution, the Assembly decided that, on matters within the mandate and purview of the United Nations Environment Programme, the report of the special commission should, in first instance, be considered by the Governing Council of the Programme, for transmission to the Assembly together with its comments, and for use as basic material in the preparation, for adoption by the Assembly, of the Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond.
As a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference), the General Assembly established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP represents the agency responsible for coordinating the UN environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.
UNEP' s has had a key role in developing international environmental conventions, promoting environmental science and information and illustrating the way those can be implemented in conjunction with policy, working on the development and implementation of policy with national governments, regional institutions in conjunction with environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
UNEP has also been active in funding and implementing environment related development projects.
Natural Resources Forum, Special section on oceans
National Resources Forum, 2014
This special section on oceans and seas of Natural Resources Forum provides valuable background information for the ongoing oceans-related processes and discussions. It contains two papers which are devoted to the analysis of the multitude of ecosystem services provided by oceans and their benefits for local communities. In addition, the authors enumerate possible stressors threatening these services as well as possible activities that can be undertaken to deal with these challenges while also strengthening the understanding and management of marine and coastal ecosystems. The third paper deals with the particular challenges faced by remote, poor, coastal and island communities and elaborates on an innovative approach of using environmentally friendly, non-fuel vessels which could possibly be used to solve difficulties encountered through conventional shipping methods.
The three papers presented in this special section are aimed at highlighting the crucial importance of oceans and seas and their resources for local communities around the world and the increasing and complex challenges they face, while attempting to offer solutions. They will hopefully facilitate information exchange as well as encourage activities that further the sustainable use and conservation of oceans and seas for the benefit of current and future generations.