The Second Blue Economy Summit, held under the theme “One Ocean, One Future,” and a key component of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), concluded successfully on the 19th January 2016 with adoption of the Abu Dhabi 2016 Blue Economy Declaration.
The Declaration unanimously adopted by government, international and civil society participants calls upon the international community to adopt, elaborate and utilise the Blue Economy approach as a key tool in the implementation of inter alia the Paris Climate Change Agreement and realisation of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14 to “Conserve and Sustainably Use Oceans, Seas, Marine Resources for Sustainable Development.”
The Second Blue Economy Summit was co-hosted by the Governments of Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates in partnership with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.
The President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr. James Alix Michel, gave the keynote address stressing the importance and significance of a paradigm shift towards a sustainable ocean-based Blue Economy.
“In Seychelles our transition to the Blue Economy is about empowering our local fisheries industry through the adoption of sustainable practices to create better value addition. We believe that supporting our local entrepreneurs is at the heart of the blue economy agenda; because sustainability is not possible without strong local ownership,” he said.
President Michel’s speech highlighted the potential a Blue Economy offers to contribute to the international challenges of the alleviation of global poverty, creation of sustainable livelihoods, increased food security, improved human well-being and social equity whilst also reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
The opening ceremony included statements by the President of the Republic of Palau, Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr, the President of Iceland, Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change of the UAE, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, and the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO),Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin.
“We are very pleased to once again co-host the Second Blue Economy Summit with the Republic of the Seychelles. Since the first Summit in 2014 held here in Abu Dhabi, significant strides have been made by the global community. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals reinforced the importance of the oceans and seas, as well as the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.” said Dr. Al Jaber.
“As a coastal country, the protection and sustainable use of marine resources and coastal zones are central to our national policies. And just as oceans and seas transcend borders, so do our efforts. The UAE, under the guidance of its wise leadership, are supporting small island states by deploying renewable energy and improving their resilience to extreme weather events,” he added.
“The International Oceanographic Commission (IOC), as the only UN body specialising in ocean sciences, observations, services and capacity development, is committed to help building the Blue Economy through education and capacity development, the Global Ocean Observing System, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Marine Spatial Planning, Ocean Teacher Global Academy, and many other IOC programmes and initiatives”, said Dr V. Ryabinin, Executive Secretary IOC.
He added that economic return on investments into ocean science of observations will be the vehicle moving the Blue Economy forward.
The Summit, attended by high level country, international agency and civil society representatives, sought to re-galvanize support for the Blue Economy and highlight the importance of oceans for the continued sustainable development of all countries. International expert presentations followed by distinguished panel discussions, with input from the plenary, served to advance the international debate on the Blue Economy in relation to Climate Change and SDG 14 respectively.
The Declaration urges States, international agencies and donors to take concerted action and facilitate the application of the Blue Economy in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.