By Sharon Atieno

In order to realize the fourteenth sustainable development goal (SDG) which advocates for life below water, increased financing towards oceans is critical.

Speaking during a side event, Sustainable Oceans- the Road to Lisbon: the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference at the fifth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) Amb. Macharia Kamau, Kenya Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs called for the need to increase investment in oceans, noting that despite the integral role played by oceans and other water ecosystems, SDG 14 is the least funded SDG.

He said countries should take advantage of innovative financing models that exist including traditional and new partnership arrangements to make sure that there is greater funding going to the oceans.

Besides urging both public and private partners to scale up collaboration efforts in order to forge meaningful , replicable and transformative partnerships, Amb. Kamau said, “ governments need to allocate funding to maritime and marine research as innovative projects within national budgets.”

In the same event, Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director observed that the oceans are under siege from various threats including plastics, acidification and climate change among others.

Urging countries to adopt a circular economy in their manufacturing and production, she expressed optimism that the Assembly will endorse an internationally legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.

Andersen added that unsustainable fisheries, and agricultural and carbon subsidies need to be nature based. Thus, they need to be flipped and have net zero emissions.

She also said that delivering on the decade for restoration, technology transfer, increased finance and addressing plastic pollution are vital measures in healing the planet.

Noting that the ocean’s health is declining, Peter Thomson, UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Oceans said that the decline can be stopped in 2022 if consensus to do the right thing is achieved.

He noted that there are several upcoming meetings including the 27th Conference of Parties and World Tarde Organization Ministerial meeting on fisheries subsidies among others which provide a good opportunity to call for action towards the oceans.

“It is vital that the international community does not squander the unparalleled opportunities presented by these confluence of attention on a need for a decisive ocean action,” Thomson said.

With the second UN Ocean Conference set to be held in Lisbon, Amb. Pedro Madureira , Chair Portuguese Organizing Committee of UN Ocean Conference said the meeting will seek to build on the outcomes of the first UN ocean conference and at the same time explore synergies and draw inputs from other processes such as the high level panel for sustainable blue economy and the one ocean summit among others.

Noting that the theme of the conference is ‘Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of goal 14’,  Amb.Madureira said the conference will also be a call for action.

” It underlines the sense of urgency and need to galvanize political impetus towards concrete solutions,” he said.

Key elements of the conference include a high level segment, plenary meetings and eight interactive dialogues. Besides, the conference will adopt an action oriented declaration focusing on science based innovative areas to support implementation of goal 14.