A wave of Pacific partnerships in action for our Ocean Health

As caretakers of the world's largest ocean basin, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with Members and global partners have committed to four different partnerships for Ocean health.

These are now registered in the UN Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments - global initiatives for collaborating partners to help implement Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.

The United Nations Ocean Conference, to address issues effecting ocean health, is co-hosted by the Governments of Fiji and Sweden. To help inspire efforts on the ground to make a wave of change, the conference is now registering a wide range of Voluntary Commitments, all of which require actions with tangible outcomes.

"We have four key areas at SPREP that are at the foundation of our Voluntary Commitments, these are key areas of our Ocean work which is cross-cutting in nature," said Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of SPREP.

"Ocean Research to help strengthen Integrated Ocean Management, Ocean Acidification, Marine Conservation and Marine Debris and Pollution. Each of our Voluntary Commitments with our partners ensure that we all work together to bring about positive impacts in these areas."

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With reports of eight million tonnes of plastic dumped in the Ocean each year, the "Cleaner Seas for a Cleaner Pacific" Voluntary Commitment aims to reduce marine debris, achieving a clean Pacific Ocean. It enhances the partnership between UN Environment and SPREP to deliver the Global Partnership on Marine Litter and the implementation of the Cleaner Pacific 2025 Strategy for our Pacific region.

The "Pacific Ocean Research Alliance" focusses on coastal and pelagic oceans with an aim to source and provide marine data for decision makers, build Pacific capacity, and strengthen Ocean expert networks for Pacific island Members. The increase in knowledge, data and capacity will help informed decision making when it comes to Ocean health in the region.

Building resilience to ocean acidification and the climate change impacts on oceans in coastal communities and ecosystems is at the core of "The Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification". The Ocean is the world's largest carbon sink with over 90% of the world's carbon stored within the ocean and action needs to be taken now. This builds on the current NZ Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification Project.

"Our fourth Voluntary Commitment Partnership stems from the successful Whales in a Changing Ocean Conference hosted by the Government of Tonga last month. It was here that partners, countries and organisations came together to develop the "Protecting, conserving and restoring whale populations in the Pacific islands" commitment to be registered at the UN Ocean Conference," said Mr Latu.

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"While the recovering humpback whale population is now safe from the harpoon and is a success story that has been assisted by Pacific actions, there is so much more we need to be doing to protect whales from emerging threats. This sees a number of countries and NGO's committing to that."

The four partnerships can now be viewed in the UN Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments. Should you wish to find out more, or be a supporting partner in these, please contact SPREP.

The UN Ocean Conference, Our Oceans, Our Future, Partnerships for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, is held from 5 – 9 June at the UN Headquarters in New York.
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