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Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

Since the first time we gathered together to raise our voices for the oceans and seas, about one and a half year ago, we have come a long way. As I see from the programme today, many new friends are ready to join forces to save the oceans and seas from uncertain future. I wish to pay tribute to Ambassador Beck and recognize his perseverance and efforts to keep all of us and many more on the alert as to the enormous task ahead of us; I also must recognize the tireless strive of our friend Amir Dossal, the chair of the Global Partnership Forum and co-founder of the Alliance, who has put his many talents at the disposal of the cause.

The first time we met, about one and half year ago, we forcefully expressed our conviction that the health of the oceans and seas is strictly woven with the health and quality of life of millions of people who do not even live on their shores. We were on the eve of a discussion that eventually brought forward SDG 14 and were very keen to ensuring that the new Post-2015 Agenda would speak of humanity and planet as a unique and harmonious system poised to preserve itself in the millennia to come. Many of us, our Minister of the Environment in particular, said: “we will do our part”.

We got together a second time under the “One ocean” banner, in September last year. At that point we were already quite confident that SDG 13 (climate change), 14 (Oceans and seas) and 15 (terrestrial ecosystems) were going to maintain a prominent place in the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

We met a third time in March of this year and were taken through the wonders of immense stretches of ocean that are capable of healing themselves with technological help from humans. It was comforting to hear how scientific and technological endeavors can help us not only understand how we can save the oceans, but also how to do it within the lifetime of the present generation. 

Throughout  our meetings President Remengesau’s project to establish the first national marine sanctuary in Palau has been both a call to concrete action and a source of inspiration.  It brought to a higher level of consciousness the fact that marine sanctuaries – and many already exist all over the world – are much more than what their name seems to imply. Marine protected areas are harbingers of vital positive ecological effects, such as the protection of species and biodiversity in general; they facilitate the recovery of damaged areas and increase fertility; they increase the stability and resilience of the marine ecosystems; they are a long-term adaptation response to the impacts of Climate Change on marine ecosystems. As we have learnt also from the experience in the Mediterranean Sea, sanctuaries ensure an increase of biomass, restore the natural structure of populations subject to commercial exploitation, and improve the yields of local fisheries.

Italy is proud of being in a position to provide the necessary seed resources to make the Palau Sanctuary a reality. Moreover, we are happy that President Remengesau’s initiative has given us a robust signal as to how we can concretely begin “to do our part” for the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway.

We are in fact suggesting to widen the scope of the long-standing partnership between Italy and other partners and the Pacific Small Island Developing States that began in 2007, to include the protection of biodiversity and its ecosystem services that are at grave risk also due to climate change. By including initiatives to reduce marine pollution of all kinds, to sustainably manage, protect and restore marine and coastal ecosystems, and to regulate ocean resources harvesting, the Partnership will become an ever more powerful instrument at the disposal of the Pacific SIDS to contribute to the implementation of the SAMOA pathway.

Thank you.