Thousands of delegates from around the world converged on United Nations headquarters in New York City from June 5 – 9 for the “United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14”. The conference aimed to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity.
PEMSEA was pleased to participate in sessions throughout the conference, including contribution to the “Partnership Dialogue on Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems”.
On June 6th, PEMSEA hosted a side event on “Catalyzing Investments in SDG 14: Establishment of a Strategic Ocean Investment Ecosystem”, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment (UNEP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Blue Finance, ARCOWA SA and R20 Regions of Climate Action.
Moderated by Mr. Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific for UNDP, the session explored efforts to develop an ecosystem of ocean investment facilities and funds to direct more private capital towards blue economy investments for sustainable coasts and oceans.
PEMSEA was honored to invite Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, to deliver opening comments for the event. Mr. Thomson highlighted the important role of regional programmes such as PEMSEA and expressed his support for its work in scaling up integrated coastal management (ICM) in East Asia. In his keynote, Elliott Harris, Director of the New York Office for UNEP, emphasized the need for innovative financial mechanisms to drive the transition to more sustainable blue economies. Mr. Harris emphasized the investment risk presented by the ongoing loss of natural capital that provides the very basis for the blue economy. Integrated ecosystems-based regional ocean policies can provide more predictable frameworks for action to reduce risk and serve as an enabler for private investment.
Panel speakers discussed how a regional Ocean Investment Facility and Funds, building on the foundation of scientific assessments, institutional mechanisms and improved governance established by regional Strategic Action Programmes (SAPs), presents a unique opportunity to redirect billions of dollars of capital towards SDG 14. Specific examples of sector-based investment opportunities in marine protected areas and sustainable tourism and wastewater management and low-carbon investments were presented by Blue Finance, ARCOWA SA and R20 Regions of Climate Action.
The panel presentations were followed by responses from private sector and investment representatives from the Economist, Credit Suisse, Althelia Ecosphere and Encourage Capital. Respondents highlighted that ocean investment has huge potential, but it comes with a level of complexity and risk. The respondents felt that these risks can be addressed, but more specialist expertise is needed on sustainable ocean investments. There is also an urgent need to identify practical, high-quality, bankable projects. Ultimately, the right kind of capital must be directed to the right opportunities at the right cost.
PEMSEA’s Executive Director, Stephen Adrian Ross, closed the session by emphasizing the need for investment at the local government level, but at the same time address the substantial gap between local desire for investment and ability to develop bankable projects. Mr. Ross expressed the critical importance of partnerships in moving the SDG 14 agenda forward.
PEMSEA looks forward to building on the fruitful sessions and interactions throughout the conference and working with partners, old and new, in support of SDG 14.