The fourth edition of the Oceans Meeting conference in Lisbon ended with a ministerial meeting during which a Joint Declaration was scheduled to be read. Organized under the scope of Portugal Shipping Week, the event was attended by 72 countries (mostly represented by ministers and Secretaries of State with the protection of the oceans) and international organisations dedicated to the theme of the oceans.
In the plenary session, the Minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino recalled that the theme of this meeting was “an integrated management vision embedded in a pragmatic approach – Routing the Future: Blue Circular Economy, Green Shipping and Port Tech Clusters.
“The central message of this edition of Oceans Meeting is that the world can meet this challenge by investing in integrated ocean management, growth promoter based on the blue circular economy business model, accelerating the adoption of green shipping and solutions of innovation to the ocean through the implementation of a global network of port innovation ecosystems, the Port Tech Clusters.
The plenary session, which ended with a brief intervention by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, had a wide range of institutional speakers and only one in a personal capacity (João Cravinho, former Minister of Planning and Territory), and the Minister of the Sea. Among them were the mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, who referred to the importance of the topics discussed in the Ocean Meeting, and the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, who highlighted three main topics: a holistic approach to the oceans, how the oceans can be used for UN sustainability objectives and the role of European funds in financing innovation in the field of the sea.
Another speaker was the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), who recalled his commitment to meeting the Paris Agreement by limiting CO2 and sulphur emissions, ships and the promotion of digitization in the maritime industry.
Also present was the United Nations Special Envoy to the Oceans, Peter Thomson, who admitted that the world is losing the battle on several fronts it mentioned related to climate change, such as the migration of marine species, tropical storms, death of reefs of coral reefs, rising average temperature of waters, overfishing or improper subsidies to fisheries. But it showed hope for the commitments made by the states in the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda and in the ongoing negotiation for an Implementation Agreement of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).
Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, drew a dangerous scenario for the oceans, evidenced by signs of acidification, pollution or rising sea levels, and argued that the solution to such problems is scientific and must undergo negotiations, which are necessarily difficult due to the accountability of the States involved. Arguing that the planet climbs to a three degree rise in average temperature, he considered that we should move from knowledge to action.
Also present, João Aguiar Machado, Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission, said that in the blue economy “we cannot make the same mistakes we made on land” and we must “keep the oceans healthy and resilient”. And he warned: if everything stays the same, in 10 years we will have a ton of plastic in the oceans for every three tons of fish. He also stressed that in terms of models of governance of the oceans, the EC advocates an updating and application of those that already exist.
João Cravinho, as a common citizen, admitted that today sustainability is the cornerstone of development policies and that in the current context and in the face of the United Nations sustainability objectives, the defence of the sea depends on the acceleration of the dissemination of best practices of sustainable development.
Adriano Moreira, president of the International Academy of Portuguese Culture, in a long intervention, full of historical allusions, considered that the present globalization faces a crisis of governance and criticized one of its contradictions, evidenced by the fact that several United Nations countries did not have the means to respond to their most elemental, climatic or other challenges. And he recalled that the land is a World Heritage site, so its people are the people. He has not forgotten China, which he considers the most remarkable of the emerging states and returns to reclaim the maritime space and probably to occupy the first place in the hierarchy of the powers.
Also present was the Special Envoy of the Norwegian Prime Minister to the High-Level Panel for Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, Vidar Helgessen, considered that we must produce more from the oceans, even as the world population will increase and agriculture will not be sufficient to meet the needs.
The Secretary General of the Sea of the French Government, Vincent Bouvier, spoke about the sharing of a maritime vocation between Portugal and France, welcoming the importance given by Portugal to innovation at this conference and recalling that we should seek ways of financing the innovation in this sector.
News reproduced courtesy of Economia do Mar www.jornaldaeconomiadomar.com