Updated Jul 4, 2022

Support for global marine environment at UN Ocean Conference

World leaders have announced new initiatives to protect the global marine environment at the UN Ocean Conference.

The UN Ocean Conference hosted in Lisbon, following the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly where the UK worked with international partners to agree on a new legally binding treaty on plastic pollution.

Over 6000 participants including Heads of State and government, and over 2000 representatives of civil society attended the conference, and recognised the "collective failure to achieve Ocean related targets".

There are many challenges facing our oceans, including warmer and more acidic waters, pollution, rising sea levels, over-exploitation of fish stocks, coastal erosion and a decrease in marine biodiversity. 

The declaration made at this UN Ocean conference stated: "We are committed to halting and reversing the decline in the health of the ocean’s ecosystems and biodiversity, and to protecting and restoring its resilience and ecological integrity. We call for an ambitious, balanced, practical, effective, robust, and transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework."

Some of the voluntary commitments made include:

  • a minimum investment of $1 billion as part of the Protecting Our Planet challenge, which will support the creation, expansion and management of marine protected areas by 2030;
  • an additional €150 million pledge by the European Investment Bank across the Caribbean Region as part of the Clean Oceans Initiative in order to improve climate resilience, water management and solid waste management;
  • India committed to a Coastal Clean Seas Campaign and is planning to ban single-use plastics;
  • Portugal is committed to ensure all marine area under Portuguese sovereignty or jurisdiction is assessed as being in Good Environmental State as well as classifying 30% of the national marine areas by 2030;
  • Kenya is developing a national blue economy strategic plan and also developing a national action plan on a sea-based marine plastic litter;
  • more than 150 Member States made commitments to become part of the Global Ocean Alliance 30 by 30 initiative, to conserve or protect at least 30 per cent of the global ocean within Marine Protected Areas, and other effective area-based conservation measures, by 2030.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Miguel de Serpa Soares, commented that the conference: "has given us the opportunity to unpack critical issues and generate new ideas. It also made clear the work that remains, and the need to scale up that work for the recovery of our ocean."