A half-blue COP23
This year, COP23 was chaired by the Fiji Islands in Bonn. An ambassador of choice to carry the voice of the Ocean. No more green logos, Fiji announce the color: this summit will be blue. This island country, threatened by the rising waters caused by global warming has indeed multiplied advocacy for the ocean to bring into action the international community.
A full day dedicated to the oceans
On November 11, 70 speakers, including Heads of State, ministers and representatives of governments, associations, civil society, academia and private sector organizations were invited to testify about the urgency to consider the role of the Ocean in climate regulation.
The Ocean, which covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, is indeed one of the main elements of the climate system. It absorbed almost half of the oxygen we breathe. In 200 years, it has absorbed about 30 to 50% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by humans, leading to an ocean acidification. This chemical change weakened most of the marine ecosystems. The challenge then it to restore and and protect the ecosystems that have the ability to store carbon such as seagrass beds or mangroves, and to better understand other marine ecosystems and the services they provide us.
Lead by the Ocean & Climate platform, practical and quick solutions to implement were introduced by the ocean communityto. Lessons learned from various initiatives and examples and good practices were shared. The aim was to duplicate successful experciences on several topics such as ecosystem resilience, coastal community involvement, energy, research, fisheries and aquaculture, blue carbon or risk management.
Signing of the declaration “Because the Ocean” by 4 new countries
The Oceans Day also saw the declaration “Because the Ocean” signed by 4 new countries: the United Kingdom, Finland, Honduras and Romania. These countries joined the 28 other that signed it at COP21 & COP22. They support the inclusion of oceans the NDPC (participation of each country determined accordingly to its capabilities during the Paris Agreement to fight against climate change). Clearly, it commits states to participate more in civil society actions.
Launch of the “Ocean Pathway Partnership”
On November 16 Fiji, the host country of COP23, launched the “Ocean Pathway partnership“. It is the first international agreement on climate to recognize the key role of the Ocean as the main climate regulator. It acknowledges what has been supported throughout COP23, in the hope of consolidating existing work to create a commun endeavour among existing governments, ocean alliances and coalitions, civil society and the private sector. The partnership will be co-chaired by Fiji and Sweden, who will meet again after running the first United Nations Conference on Oceans in July.
“If we save the oceans, we save the climate” Thecla Keizer, member of the Plymouth Marine Biology
« Just as we have climate action, we need ocean action. Everyone needs to play a part » Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean
“The ocean is us” Hilda C.Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
“The ocean is not last chance, but it’s our best chance” Patricia Ricard, President of the Paul Ricard Oceanographic Institute
On these fine words and despite some vague conclusions for a novice in official talks (you need to know about acronyms like UNFCCC, INDC, etc.), one thing is certain: the role of the Ocean in the Climate regulation has finally been officially recognised. This COP23 raised awareness within the international community, and that is progress. Now it remains to be seen wether committed countries will take concrete actions and how much money will be allocated and how quickly this will be done. Because let’s remember, time is running out.
For more information on the key achievements of COP23: https://cop23.com.fj/key-achievements-cop23/