Seychelles and other small island developing countries were active at the United Nations in New York as the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) reviewed the sustainable development goal (SDG) on oceans.
The HLPF oversees the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development and the associated 17 SDGs under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
SDG 14 is to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.
The review by the HLPF came just a month after the successful Oceans Conference, also at the UN in New York, where a Seychelles delegation led by Vice-President Vincent Meriton was prominently active.
For the HLPF, Seychelles’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amb Ronny Jumeau, was invited by the President of ECOSOC to be one of two lead discussants at a panel discussion to review SDG 14. This meant responding to presentations by the panelists before the discussion was opened to statements, comments and questions from the floor.
Ambassador Jumeau recalled that the June Ocean Conference had called on donor countries and other stakeholders to increase funding for sustainable ocean-related activities and to implement SDG 14, especially in developing countries. However, the same request had been made to the same stakeholders to do the same for all the other 16 SDGs plus the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The scale and complexity of implementing both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement called for novel ways of thinking, Mr Jumeau said. This was why some developing countries were, “largely unnoticed and even unknown”, engaging with these same stakeholders to come up with innovative methods of financing.
He gave as an example the Seychelles debt swap to turn 30 percent of its 1.4-million-square-kilometre exclusive economic zone (EEZ) into marine protected areas (MPAs).
“We will follow this by issuing blue bonds to fund more sustainable fishing practices to ensure that the remaining 70 percent of the EEZ is sustainably used and managed,” he added.
He also called on the UN system to set up a “strong follow-up and review mechanism” to track the progress of the outcomes of the Ocean Conference and the implementation of SDG 14.
The panel was moderated by Ms Kate Brown, executive director of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) which Seychelles President Danny Faure co-chairs alongside the President of Palau, the Prime Minister of Grenada and the Premier of the British Virgin Islands. GLISPA, where the idea for the Seychelles debt swap was born, initiating the country’s move to a blue economy, was also very active at the June Ocean Conference.
The HLPF meets at the UN every year to review a few of the SDGs. Other SDGs reviewed this year covered poverty (SDG 1), hunger and food security (2), health (3), gender equality (5), and resilient infrastructure and inclusive and sustainable industrialisation (14).