Pacific calls for ocean to be included in UNFCCC

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By Pita Ligaiula in Glasgow

Pacific Ocean Commissioner Henry Puna has called on leaders of the Pacific to never give up in global leadership in ocean governance.

Speaking at the launch of the Declaration on Preservation of Maritime Zones in the face of sea level rise for the Pacific at the margins of COP26 in Glasgow, Henry Puna said the Climate-Ocean nexus and the health of the ocean is critical to life on this Blue Planet.

“There is no time better than the present to act and address the declining health trends of our Ocean. The science has spoken – we are all glaringly aware of the potential impacts on the ocean, if we do not act on climate change now – not tomorrow, not in 2030 – but right now!

“For the Pacific, the ocean and our livelihoods, wellbeing, prosperity and security are inextricably linked. For us, the implications of rising sea levels are an imminent threat.
“Recognising this, our Leaders have committed to accelerating the finalisation of their maritime boundaries, and endorsed the landmark Declaration on Preservation of Maritime Zones in the face of sea level rise,” said Puna.

Puna said the Pacific must maintain a collective stance and collective stewardship of ocean issues not only at home, but particularly in global ocean events.

“There are upcoming opportunities in our Blue Pacific Region, including the Palau Our Ocean Conference in mid-February 2022 and the Pacific Ocean Alliance Meeting.

“In addition, the second UN Ocean Conference in June 2022 will be a critical opportunity where the Pacific will need to work together, including with our partners here today, to elevate our collective Ocean interests together, and get real traction on our priorities.
He said the alarm bells have been sounded – now the hard work begins, the ocean-climate canoe has already set sail.

“We need to realise and operationalise the political statements that have been made here in Glasgow and the onus now lies with all of us to ensure that these are not mere political statements but realised plans that will guide our next steps.

“We invite you all here in Glasgow, to recognise and join this Vaka with us and together, let us chart its next course. This will be a journey where everyone here, you and I are together on the same canoe. The winds may not always be in our favour, but we know where we are going in our quest for our collective future of our one blue global ocean, and ultimately, our one Blue Planet,” Puna explained.

“This week, we all must realise that if we do not succeed here at COP26, in garnering real tangible actions, targets and commitments, we will have failed.

“As the words on my friend, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson’s badge of honour says – “Never Give Up!” – We must save our Ocean, we must save our Planet – we must not fail, for our children and our grandchildren,” SG Puna said.

PACNEWS coverage from Glasgow is possible with the assistance of the Pacific Islands Forum through the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC).