HOSTING the world’s largest connected ecosystem that provides humans with essential life supporting functions and amenities, the ocean regulates our climate and is expected to provide an increasing amount of energy, food, materials and recreational and cultural services to societies worldwide.
Accordingly, environmental sustainability for the ocean is of universal concern, calling for a corresponding global forum for the formulation of sustainable development targets supported by indices and ocean policies and the monitoring of their success.
The development of and commitment to a focused Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the ocean and coasts could trigger greater international cooperation towards achieving good environmental status of the ocean and coasts, securing blue wealth, and providing equitable access to ocean resources and at the same time support the development of resilient coastal communities.
Heads of Commonwealth countries during the recent CHOGM identified climate change, including sea level rise and acidification, biodiversity loss, overfishing, and plastic pollution as some of the most significant pressures on the ocean, and called for ambitious, coordinated global action.
They affirmed the Commonwealth’s strength in sharing experience and expertise, and recognised its vital role in building capacity in small and other vulnerable states.
Heads adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter, setting out the principles by which Commonwealth member countries will lead international efforts by sustainably developing and protecting their ocean.
They committed to take action to safeguard the ocean for future generations and has agreed to establish Action Groups on ocean issues led by Commonwealth member countries, which will collaborate with partners at national, regional, and international levels, in addressing identified priority ocean issues of member countries.
Heads mandated the Secretariat to take forward a Commonwealth Blue Charter plan of action to support this.
Today’s situation with a multitude of piecemeal national and regional approaches and policies can neither effectively address the difficulties the environment and especially the ocean face in a coherent manner nor monitor global progress.
The idea to shape the development of the post-2015 area by a set of SDGs is based on the recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development, where member states agreed to launch a process where such goals are defined.
These goals are expected to be based on Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The ocean received significant attention in the 2013 Rio -20 declaration: “The Future we want”.