December 7, 2022

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Remarks at the Ocean Conservation Pledge/Our Ocean Conference Event – United States Department of State

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Monica Medina, Assistant SecretaryBureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

COP27 U.S. Center

Introduction

Good afternoon and thanks so much for joining today. Thank you for joining me today to address the future of the ocean, during one of the most important moments for combatting the climate crisis.

We have heard time and again that the climate, biodiversity, and ocean crises are intertwined. The solutions to these crises are also intertwined.

For example, a recent literature review of over twenty thousand studies on marine protected areas – or MPAs – demonstrated that marine conservation can significantly boost climate change mitigation and adaptation outcomes. MPAs increase coastal resilience, sequester carbon, and protect biodiversity. MPAs can also enhance the catch and income of local fishers when part of an overall sustainable fishing effort.

30 x 30

The good news is that thousands of MPAs and marine conservation areas have been set up around the world. Yet these areas cover only about eight percent of the ocean and vary widely in levels of protection and enforcement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others have determined that at least 30 percent of the global ocean needs to be conserved to maintain the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services at a global scale. We must conserve that 30 percent for biodiversity, for climate, for communities. And we must do it soon.

It’s important that when it comes to MPAs it’s not just the quantity that matters. It’s the quality that matters too. The greater the level of protection, the greater the conservation outcomes. Such as MPAs that limit all but low impact activities like sustainable local community fishing. For example, new research from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument shows that the conservation benefits from this highly protected MPA extend beyond its boundaries as well.

Ocean Conservation Pledge

As part of this effort, there has been increasing global attention to the creation of MPAs in the high seas and Antarctica. And those MPAs are essential. At the same time, we need to do more within each country’s waters. We need to raise our ambition too!

During the Our Ocean conference in Palau, the United States announced a new global ocean conservation pledge.  We are encouraging countries to commit to conserve, protect, or restore at least 30 percent of ocean waters under their respective national jurisdictions by 2030, or 30 by 30 for short. The pledge aims to catalyze national level efforts to enhance marine conservation – action which we know is urgently needed. The pledge recognizes the diversity of national approaches to marine conservation including MPAs, Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures and Indigenously-led efforts – because when it comes to the ocean, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

The United States is pleased to be joined today by the first cohort of countries endorsing this pledge – the first movers on ocean conservation. This pledge is critical to reaching 30 by 30 for the global ocean.   We hope that today’s announcement demonstrates that there is already a coalition of willing partners working to make this global goal a reality, starting at home.

Conclusion

I am pleased to turn the floor over to a few of the endorsers of the Ocean Conservation Pledge to speak about their own experiences and plans for advancing marine conservation. To start, please welcome Minister Rojas, from Chile’s Ministry of the Environment.

More from: Monica Medina, Assistant SecretaryBureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

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