The Sustainable Development Goal on the Oceans has been a remarkable achievement of collective thinking and of collective political determination. It highlights in an absolutely clear fashion the concept of “interlinkages” which is one of the main features of the post-2015 development agenda. The Open Working Group has brilliantly elaborated on the fact that pollution, 80% of which is generated by land-based activities, is suffocating marine life, endangering marine species and exhausting the marine food chain. Discussions within the Open Working Group have also highlighted that CO2 emissions are not the only anthropogenic activity creating havoc in the oceans and incapacitating their role as guardians of the climate and providers of food. Overfishing, for instance, is not only threatening food security for over half a billion people living less than 1 meter above sea level, but also the protein intake of billions of people who live on land. In a nutshell SDG 14 warns us about the need to react to the marine equivalent of land deforestation.
In the same vein, discussions within the Open Working Group, together with initiatives from governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, have allowed the international public opinion to become more aware of the magnitude of the social and humanitarian threat posed by sea level rise which far surpasses any strictly economic consideration. As Italy, we have advocated special attention and measures for Small Island Developing States since the loss of homeland and related identity are the real and potentially devastating consequences of this phenomenon. Finally, also with “Expo Milano 2015”, we have called for a mobilization of the creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity of the world for the preservation and maintenance of the health of the oceans and of food chains.
We are very encouraged therefore by the Targets that have been elaborated in relation to this goal: they establish a path towards reducing pollution, halting ocean acidification, controlling overfishing, increasing the resilience of coastal areas and promoting their restoration, increasing benefits for SIDS and augmenting scientific knowledge as well as research capacity for maintaining marine biodiversity. We believe that this framework is an excellent basis for constructing global action and true partnerships to safeguarding the oceans for future generations.
Italy and the Pacific SIDS have long established a way of cooperating for sustainable development – a true Partnership. In this endeavor we have been joined by other European partners in delivering tangible benefits on the ground to the most vulnerable communities. Efforts in alleviating the devastation that nature has recently inflicted on the islands will be sustained by the sense of togetherness that has been nurtured through the Partnership which established a framework for action that can inspire also other initiatives.