Our Ocean Conference in Palau ends on high note

(April 13, 2022) Surangel Whipps Jr speaking at the opening ceremony. PHOTO: Office of the President Palau

The 7th Our Ocean Conference concluded on a high note, with commitments “to tackle some of the greatest threats to our Ocean” as U.S Special Envoy John Kerry said.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr announced that 410 commitments were made at the ocean conference with the value of US$16.35 billion.

Altogether, since 2014 when the first Our Ocean Conference was held, 1,800 commitments worth over US$108 billion have been pledged toward protecting and restoring the ocean.

“To get there, we need resources.  No one country, including the wealthiest economies, not China, not the United States, has enough money to solve the problem.  Because no country has enough money to do this, we are …going to need the private sector, philanthropy, and businesses to step up and help us mobilise trillions we need to affect this transition in time,” Special Envoy Kerry said of the commitments and solutions to climate change impact and ocean health.

Responding to the announcement, Ambassador Dr Fatumanava Pa’olelei Luteru, Samoa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mission said, “It is good but we want to know more specifically how and when that commitment can be accessed.”

The commitments are both in cash and in-kind, such as the commitment to adopt an agreement such as Palau’s pledge to join the membership of Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) as the first SIDS member and the push for zero carbon emission for shipping by 2050.

Some of the strong commitment outcomes anticipated include voting on the BBNJ Agreement, voting to protect Antarctica, and getting some of the island countries already halfway into their planning toward adopting Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).