Dr Jeremy Hills, Director of Institute of Marine Resources during his presentation.
Dr Jeremy Hills, Director of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Institute of Marine Resources reported on the United Nations Ocean Conference as part of a plenary session on the theme of Achieving a Blue Green Economy during the Pacific Update Conference on 20 June 2017.
Dr Hills labelled the Ocean Conference as a “game changer” which, tried to recreate a new trajectory of the way people dealt with the oceans.
The backdrop for this, Dr Hills said, is that many aspects of the Oceans are being degraded which suggests unsustainable practices in ocean management.
“So the Oceans Conference tried to re-capture a trajectory towards sustainability,” Dr Hills said.
The Ocean Conference, which was co-hosted by governments of Fiji and Sweden, was the first SDG Conference to look at development and implementation for Agenda 2030.
“The Pacific had quite a strong influence on the inclusion of certain targets within SDG14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), particularly the target related to Blue Economy,” he added.
Dr Hills informed the participants of the Pacific Update Conference that there were three (3) main outcomes of the Conference which are:
- Global call for action – which was a reiteration of SDG14;
- Partnership dialogues – which had in-depth focus on particular groups of SDGs; and
- Voluntary commitments – Governments and organisations put on commitments about what they would do in Agenda 2030 related to SDG14.
Talking about voluntary commitments, Dr Hills said there were a total of 1372 commitments made across the world, out of which 307 came from the Pacific. Of the total, Fiji is a beneficiary of twenty-three (23) commitments.
In the Pacific, the Ocean Conference has been described as a catalyst for change.
Mr Gordon Burns, Counsellor – Regional Development Cooperation, Australian High Commission and chair of the session (left) with the panellists.
However, Dr Hills questioned the type of changes it would create, how to change SDG14 to capture the fundamental essence of the Pacific oceanscape, what is the desired investment portfolio across SDG14 in the region, and whether there was a need to move to blue economy.
As part of her presentation, Dr Newton Cain, Visiting Fellow at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University (ANU) presented on Blue Green Growth in a Pacific Island Context, a study of national and regional policy development.
Dr Cain talked about the preliminary findings from research that explores the usage, influence and impact of the ‘green growth’ terminology in the Pacific Islands.
The research was conducted by Dr Cain and Dr Mathew Dornan from ANU and Associate Professor Sandra Tarte and Dr Wesley Morgan from USP and they chose Fiji and Vanuatu as their case study countries.
In the Pacific region, the team came up with a number discourses that reflect green growth.
“In the Pacific, green growth is characterised as an act of self-determination and is often linked with concepts of sovereignty, in particular resource sovereignty. Sovereignty of management of natural resources, whether it is fisheries, logging, minerals or gas,” Dr Cain said.
Green growth also ties in Pacific epistemologies, some of which were highlighted by Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) on issues of stewardship, cultural obligations, and preservation of resources and assets for future generations.
Dr Cain further stated that green growth is also linked with conservation efforts as promoted by key individuals and civil society groups in the region.
The team looked into the role of the central planning documents of Fiji and Vanuatu as vehicles for developing green growth as a policy driver.
The comparison was made between Fiji’s ‘Green Growth Framework’ and Vanuatu’s ‘National Sustainable Development Plan’ and it was found that green growth was one aspect of the National Sustainable Development Plan of Vanuatu.
The session was chaired by Mr Gordon Burns, Counsellor – Regional Development Cooperation, Australian High Commission. Other panellists were Ms Emeline Siale Ilolohia, Executive Director, Civil Society Forum of Tonga and Mr Aidan Craney, Research Coordinator, Pacific Leadership Programme.
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