The Tara “Ocean” Tribune
World Ocean Day 2017
Romain Troublé, sailor, trained biologist and general director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation, writes about the challenges of taking collective action in favor of sustainable development of the ocean.
Like many, when I sit at the edge of the ocean and let the sound of the waves and time take effect, little by little my spirits soar. The power of ocean storms fascinates me, and the sea’s calm soothes me. Essential to life on earth, the Ocean is indispensable for the direct survival of millions of people on our planet. The Ocean has no boundaries and this is probably the biggest challenge facing us.
Tara Pacific expedition, 2017 © Nicolas Floc’h / Tara Expeditions Foundation
Without borders, the global ocean is a common good whose collective rules of preservation have not yet been written. A lung of our planet, its exploitation and sustainable management depend on all of us. Today, sustainable development policies can no longer be pursued without including the Ocean. But where are we in this endeavor? Have ocean and maritime issues finally become established priorities of sustainable development?
These priorities have been promised by the current president of the United Nations General Assembly, the Fijian Peter Thompson, who is particularly concerned. After the success of the COP21 in Paris which acknowledged the ocean’s role in the climate process, a major event is taking place this week in New York at the UN headquarters: the first United Nations Ocean Conference.
States and civil society will discuss sustainable development, focusing particularly on the Ocean. It will be interesting to see what happens with the new balance of power established by Donald Trump. In France we are not yet aware of the series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) defined in 2015. These 17 objectives, meant to be attained by 2030 are only indicative, but they have the great merit of existing and setting a course.
As for the ocean, States must continue the progress already made over decades in many areas such as reduction of plastic pollution, sustainable fishing, governance of the High Seas, creation and management of Marine Protected Areas, climate warming, research, etc. In a nutshell: we need to guarantee the sustainable use of ocean resources by means of a realistic, international consensus — applicable and applied.
Tara Pacific expedition, 2017 © Nicolas Bin / Tara Expeditions Foundation
The task is complex. During this week we need to develop a collective, realistic, ambitious and dynamic strategy to achieve the Ocean Goal (SDG #14). It took 20 years to reach the Paris Climate Agreement. Now States and civil society will have to be much more responsive to meet the challenge of these goals before 2030. For the maritime stakeholders, fishermen, researchers, NGOs and companies that work every day for a productive and healthy ocean, this first conference marks the beginning of a period of ambitious actions. As a great maritime country, will France be up to the challenge of making Europe the dynamic driving force?
On this World Ocean Day on June 8, the Tara Expeditions Foundation will be working in New York with the Ocean & Climate Platform, in Paris at UNESCO, and even in Fiji with the local population to represent the voices of civil society, scientific research, and youth.
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