June 17, 2024

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“Act now and act together to protect our ocean,” says Commonwealth Secretary-General

As high-level government and conservation officials gathered in Vancouver yesterday for the final day of the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, urged countries to work together to protect the ocean and build a sustainable blue economy.

In her keynote speech this morning, Secretary-General Scotland said:

“The hallmark of the Commonwealth is our unique combination of shared interests, practical advantages, common values and the willingness to tackle the problems of the world together.  We all share, rely on and have a common responsibility for the ocean – and because the challenges of the ocean cannot be solved by any single country – multilateral action is essential.

Through initiatives like the Commonwealth Blue Charter, we can help individual countries to make tangible progress with the right assistance, and we can aggregate and scale up our achievements when we work together.”

Hosted by the government of Canada in Vancouver from 3-9 of February, IMPAC5 is a global forum that brings together top ocean conservation professionals and global decision-makers to act on marine protected areas.

Marine protection

The meeting comes just six weeks after the Convention on Biological Diversity, where achieving 30% marine protection by 2030 (30 by 30) was endorsed as a new target.

In her speech, Secretary-General Scotland emphasised that to achieve the 30 by 30 target, multilateral cooperation is vital and that the Commonwealth Blue Charter and the new Blue Charter Project Incubator are some of the Commonwealth’s solutions to ‘how’ countries can meet this target.

The Commonwealth Blue Charter is an agreement by all 56 Commonwealth countries to actively cooperate to address ocean-related challenges and meet commitments for sustainable ocean action. The recently launched Commonwealth Blue Charter Project Incubator supports the development of governments’ projects under the Commonwealth Blue Charter and helps them to accelerate their transition to fair, sustainable and inclusive marine conservation and maritime development, while mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Building capacity

The Incubator provides a vehicle for all Commonwealth governments to pilot innovative solutions addressing their most urgent national priorities for ocean sustainability and resilience, learn from each other’s experiences and build capacity for implementation.

Last November at COP27, the Blue Charter Project Incubator announced its first call for project proposals. The call, which closed on 10 Jan 2023, received a strong response, with 45 applications from 19 Commonwealth countries.

Speaking at IMPAC5, the Secretary-General said:

“The Commonwealth is an authoritative voice on ocean issues, representing more than 36% of marine waters under national jurisdictions. Through gatherings such as IMPAC5 we strive to bring Commonwealth member states together to work for a fair, inclusive, and sustainable approach to ocean protection and economic development. The ocean has absorbed one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions to date and has captured 90 percent of the excess heat generated by these emissions. A healthy ocean is essential for life and multilateral cooperation is essential for a healthy ocean.”

The Commonwealth accounts for 2.5 billion people in 56 nations spread across five continents and all the great ocean basins. 

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