14 Ocean Panel nations vow to transform global ocean economy

Fourteen nations represented on the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) and accounting for 30% of the world’s oceans through their exclusive economic zones have committed to the sustainable management of the ocean.

The nations led by Norway, include Australia, Canada, Fiji, Jamaica, Japan, Portugal, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia and Palau.

The countries have now made a commitment to sustainably manage 100% of the ocean areas under their national jurisdiction, in line with Sustainable Ocean Plans, by 2025.

This means that in five years’ time, close to 40% of the world’s coastlines and 30% of all exclusive economic zones will be covered by integrated management plans. The Ocean Panel urges all other coastal states to develop plans of this kind by 2030.   

The Ocean Panel’s final report identifies five key building blocks to creating a sustainable ocean economy:

  • Using data to drive decision-making
  • Engaging in goal-oriented ocean planning
  • De-risking finance and using innovation to mobilise investment
  • Stopping land-based pollution
  • Changing ocean accounting so that it reflects the true value of the ocean. 

The 14 countries represented on the Ocean Panel support a global target to protect 30 % of the world’s oceans by 2020 through the establishment of marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

National decisions on such measures will depend on ecosystem status and the extent and quality of ocean management generally. The global target is therefore not binding on individual countries. 

The Norwegian government said that the actions identified by the Ocean Panel are ambitious, but realistic, and at the same time essential if we are to achieve the SDGs.

“The Earth is first and foremost an ocean planet, and ocean resources are both overexploited and undervalued. This situation is not sustainable, and it is vital that the world’s nations cooperate more closely to promote clean and productive oceans,” said Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

“The action agenda outlines a much-needed, far-reaching process of transformation to safeguard the oceans and the future ocean economy.

“Norway will do its part and will provide the support it can, based on our experience and leadership in this area. We urge other coastal and ocean states to adopt our ‘100 % approach’ and work to ensure sustainable management of all their ocean areas.”

The Ocean Panel will now be developed into a broader international partnership, and more countries and partners will be invited to join forces to implement the Panel’s action agenda.

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021–2030 will provide an international framework for these efforts.