NUKU’ALOFA-March 20: 2pm (Environment): Tonga was represented at the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Ocean Conference in Suva, Fiji last week.
The meeting was hosted by the Government of Fiji, to allow all governments of the Pacific Island Countries to meet together with various stakeholders to discuss the implementation of Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development (SDG14) and to prepare the region for the first ever United Nations Oceans Conference.
The UN Oceans Conference will take place on June 5-9 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Tonga’s delegation to the Suva meeting was led by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni. F
Other members include Ms. Eileen Fonua, Environment Officer from the MEIDECC and Ms. Rose Lesley Kautoke, Legal Advisor, from the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations/ Attorney General’s Office.
The Regional Preparatory Meeting allowed Pacific Island Leaders and Ministers to identify areas of priority which needed to be reflected in the “call for action”, potential partnerships, and voluntary commitments that would further advance the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Tonga highlighted current efforts and commitments at the national level, aimed at restoring the health of the Ocean and the sustainable utilization of its resources, particularly through the current development of a Sustainable Ocean policy, the implementation of marine spatial planning, designation of whale sanctuaries and the very existence of laws and legal frameworks which incorporate best practices.
The health and resilience of the Ocean is integral to Tonga and all Pacific Islands due to the ecosystem services it provides and the dependency of islands on the ocean.
Increasing threats and pressures from various anthropogenic activities and climate change have resulted in the drastic decline in the health of our Ocean, as a result threatening the livelihoods and the very existence of Pacific Islands.
As such, urgent actions at all levels of society, from the national, regional and international level, is warranted to reverse the negative impacts on the Ocean.
The Preparation of Tonga, and the region for the UN Oceans Conference, gives us the opportunity to collaborate and secure genuine and durable partnerships that would strengthen existing efforts and ensure the proper implementation of SDG14.