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OCEAN CONFERENCE – Assemblea Generale

Discorso pronunciato dalla Sottosegretaria di Stato al Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare, Silvia Velo nel corso della sessione speciale dell’Assemblea Generale sulla Ocean Conference—


I am honored to be here to acknowledge the value of the ocean and to enhance action on SDG 14. This is the occasion to raise our ambitions and become true custodians of our resources.
Italy is surrounded by the Mediterranean sea which is for us a symbol of culture and biodiversity variety. The Mediterranean ecosystem richness, including cultural heritage, is our great fortune as it brings social, environmental and economic value.
A sustainable blue economy is among our most fundamental challenges. Giving the fact that the maritime activities significantly contribute to our GDP and employ thousands of workers, we could consider Italy a sea-based economy, trusting on its sea for food, transport, fishing, tourism and energy, for a total value of almost 50 billion euro. In this context, the way we balance the three dimensions of sustainable development becomes crucial for national progress and well-being.
Particularly relevant for Italy is the issue of marine litter. From 2007 up to now, Italy has successfully reduced the consumption and use of traditional, not biodegradable and not compostable plastic bags by 50%, while coherently enhancing its international efforts with the signature of the UNEP/MAP “Clean Seas” Initiative (2017) and the “International coalition to reduce Plastic Bags pollution” (2016).
Italy has always been convinced that the Regional dimension, and in particular Regional Sea Programmes such as the Barcelona Convention, are key in the implementation of measures and policies against global environmental threat. And indeed, Italy has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UNEP/MAP to promote specific initiatives towards a better and integrated management of the Mediterranean marine and coastal areas, including strengthening of marine litter management measures.
The “Regional approach” has also been promoted by Italy at global level. Under the G7 Presidency, Italy, together with UNEP/MAP, organized a workshop on marine litter, focusing, in particular, on the role of Regional Sea Programs and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations: those programmes and organizations are to be considered reference models and laboratories to foster synergies and cooperation among Member States and stakeholders, ensuring linkages with all other existing global instruments related to marine litter, including the G7 Action Plan.
Italy can count on 29 Marine Protected Areas, on sea sites under the EU Natura 2000 network, and on Pelagos Marine Sanctuary accounting in total for the protection of 19.87% of territorial waters. In this context, I’m very proud to announce that with the upcoming designation of two other MPAs, in Sicily and Sardinia, Italy will get to 20% coverage of the national marine protected territory, thus doubling the 10% threshold established by both CBD Aichi Target 11 and SDG 14- target 14.5.

Before concluding Hon. Co-chairs, allow me to briefly recall some of the voluntary commitments Italy has registered:
– Within the PSIDS Partnership, Italy is ready to commit, upon request, to significantly increase its support in favour of Marine Protected Areas and spatial planning.

– Recognizing the importance of a sustainable ocean-based economy in SIDS, Italy is enhancing its cooperation on specific sectors such as: (i) renewable energy deriving from oceans’ tide and (ii) installment of desalinating sea water plants powered by renewable energy and using the reverse osmosis methodology.

– In the context of the 10X20 Initiative, Italy is supporting the work of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance to identify globally significant areas that would be candidates for MPA development.

– Aware of the need to foster the achievement of the globally recognized 10% threshold of marine protected areas coverage by 2020, Italy has committed to entirely finance a technical expert meeting on Aichi Target 11 under CBD to be organized between 2017-2020.

– Strongly conscious of the increasing risks caused by anthropogenic underwater noise to marine fauna, Italy has provided voluntary financial support to the ACCOBAMS operational activities in this field and invites all other Parties to seriously consider this issue in their national policies on marine pollution.

Thank you Co-chairs.