Enhanced support for ocean conservation should consider Pacific’s special circumstances


As a large ocean state, Palau has called on the United Nations Ocean partners for enhanced support for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources.

Such support should consider the Pacific region’s particularities and special circumstances.

The call was made by Palau CBD National Focal Point and State Forester of the Palau Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment, River Thomas, during a side-event on the margins of the ongoing 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Montreal Canada.

“In Palau and the rest of the Blue Pacific, as custodians of the ocean, we are not only recipients of the bounties of the ocean, we also want to be active participants for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. For this reason, we have called for support for means of implementation. Often, the support might be available, but for countries like mine it is unattainable,” she said.

“It can feel at times like swimming against a riptide and so we are not able to take full advantage of opportunities. Or by the time we have managed to overcome the administrative hurdles, we have passed the deadlines. This is true not only in terms of access to funding and capacity building, but especially when looking at science.”

Thomas spoke during a side-event organised by United Nation Oceans on the margins of the negotiations, where Pacific delegates are actively engaged in an effort to secure an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to ‘halt the rapid decline of our natural world’.

It featured members of UN-Oceans who highlighted their respective potential roles in the implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework; discuss ways to strengthen and promote coordination and coherence of United Nations system activities in support of the implementation of the framework and share insights on ways in which the framework can serve as a catalyst for greater synergies to advance ocean action.

“Here at the CBD, but also in other fora, we have a collective opportunity and responsibility to protect and restore the health of our ocean and build a sustainable ocean economy that can provide food, empower coastal communities, power our cities, transport our people and goods and provide innovative solutions to global challenges,” Thomas said.

“UN Oceans partners are important providers of support and we are grateful. We would certainly be more grateful for enhanced support that take into account our particularities and circumstances.”

Thomas is among more than thirty delegates from Pacific countries amplifying the Pacific voice at COP15. The Pacific has four key messages and among them is a call for healthy ocean biodiversity to be placed at the forefront of all decisions being made.

“What we need from CBD and the GBF is ambition in the vision we are setting, ambitions in the goals and targets we are aiming to achieve, and ambition in the means we are wanting to mobilise and provide and ambition in terms of partners or stakeholders we are to bring together,” Thomas.

“Of course, Member states set the tone, but creating an enabling environment for setting and implementing such ambitions is the responsibility of all. Synergies are critical to effectively tackle the triple planetary crises. This means coordination and cooperation and is particularly relevant for the deeply interconnected ocean world.

“Considering the enormous challenges at hand, the complexity of issues to address, and the multitude of interests to orchestrate, robust cooperation is key. We won’t be able to adequately address the triple planetary crises without such coordination,” she said.