High-Level Closing: Looking to Our Ocean 2023

Closing remarks by Minister of International Cooperation Anne Beathe Tvinnereim at Our Ocean Palau, 14 April 2022. The speech was delivered by ambassador Bjørn S. Jahnsen.

Excellencies, friends of the ocean,

It has been a true pleasure to be with you here in Palau at the 7th Our Ocean Conference to discuss the state of the ocean and the course ahead.

Once again, the global ocean community has come together. We have delivered knowledge-based, relevant voluntary commitments.

Commitments have been the main driver for these conferences since the very beginning back in 2014 – and again I want to thank Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry, for taking the visionary initiative at that time, putting ocean issues on the global agenda.

It was Norway’s great pleasure to host the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo in 2019, where we brought representatives of governments, civil society, business, and industry together to learn, share and act in partnerships.

I would also like to thank President Surangel Whipps Jr. and his committed staff for hosting the 7th Our Ocean at one of the blue planet’s most beautiful places, Palau. It was a long journey to get here – as the conference should have taken place in 2020, so you have really shown, with determination, perseverance, and commitment, how you can deliver a very successful conference, even during challenging times globally.

Now, like other island states in the Pacific and elsewhere, Palau is facing tremendous challenges.

You are at the forefront of climate change, combined with marine litter, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and other non-sustainable practices, that have particularly grave consequences for Small Islands Developing States.

Many solutions have been discussed during these two days, from nature-based such as mangrove and seagrass forests, to ocean-based renewable energy solutions, and green shipping.

When we return home, we must make sure we practice what we preach.

Healthy oceans are vital for global food security and for meeting some of the humanity’s most urgent needs. Healthy oceans hold one of the keys to ending hunger and poverty.

With the current, extremely critical situation for the world’s food supply, worsened by the war in Ukraine, the task of safeguarding the ocean’s contribution to food security, as well as a source of decent jobs, has become even more important.

2022 is the international year of Artisanal fisheries and Aquaculture. It is now more important than ever, that the millions of small-scale fishermen, women, and fish farmers are recognized for being providers of healthy and nutritious food to billions of people. They contribute to achieving Zero Hunger.

Just like the Pacific states, Norway has lived by the sea and from the sea for centuries. My country’s economy and the health of the population depend on ocean-based resources. As in the Pacific we have, up in the High North, a front row to climate change. It is not a pleasant sight. The ice is melting when it shouldn’t. This is why climate change, food security and energy transition are on top of both our foreign policy and development policy agendas.

The urgency of the tasks requires our immediate and concerted action. Our Ocean is one of several conferences this year focusing on action needed for a clean, healthy, and productive ocean.

2022 is the Ocean Super Year. Let us make it the year where we managed to stop the decline in the ocean’s health.

On all topics discussed during the conference, the High-Level Panel on a Sustainable Ocean Economy has presented knowledge-based policy advice. It includes substantial commitments, and it inspires all ocean countries to do more.

The One Ocean Summit in Brest in February started the Ocean Super Year, with a strong commitment to step up ocean action.

The resolution adopted at the UN Environment Assembly held in Nairobi in March was a breakthrough. Now we must make sure that the negotiations for an internationally binding treaty to stop plastic pollution are successful.

We must also conclude on a robust treaty for the governance of the high seas at the ongoing meetings of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

At the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June-July, we should take more strides to ensure significant action on SDG 14 – Life below water.

In other words, there is a momentum. Now, we have a unique opportunity to further step up our joint efforts. Our hosts, the United States and Palau, have laid a solid foundation for increased attention to ocean issues. I am looking forward to our next host, Panama’s leadership, in continuing the ocean wave.

Thank you.