Summary of the sixteenth Meeting of The United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

Jay Owen Global Citizen, Earth Systems Science



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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 25 Number 95 | Monday, 13 April 2015

Summary of the sixteenth Meeting of The United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

6-10 APRIL 2015 | New York, US

Languages: EN (HTML/PDF) FR (HTML/PDF)

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The sixteenth meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Consultative Process or ICP-16) convened from 6-10 April 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting brought together representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to examine this year’s topic: “oceans and sustainable development: integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely, environmental, social and economic.”  

On Monday and Thursday, there was a general exchange of views in plenary. On Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, delegates heard panel presentations and engaged in discussion on the first segment, “the environmental, social and economic dimensions of oceans and progress made in integrating the three dimensions, including an overview of activities and initiatives promoting their integration.” On Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, delegates engaged with the second segment on: “opportunities for, and challenges to, the enhanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in relation to oceans.”

On Thursday, delegates convened in plenary to discuss: inter-agency cooperation and coordination; process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the General Assembly; and issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea. The Co-Chairs, Amb. Don MacKay (New Zealand) and Amb. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru), distributed a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions on Friday morning. After all the paragraphs of the report had been reviewed, Co-Chair Meza-Cuadra gaveled the meeting to a close at 1:03 pm.


On 1 November 1967, Malta’s Ambassador to the UN, Arvid Pardo, asked the nations of the world to recognize a looming conflict that could devastate the oceans. In a speech to the General Assembly, he called for “an effective international regime over the seabed and the ocean floor beyond a clearly defined national jurisdiction.” The speech set in motion a process that spanned 15 years and saw: the creation of the UN Seabed Committee; the signing of a treaty banning the emplacement of nuclear weapons on the seabed; the adoption of a declaration by the General Assembly that all resources of the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction are the “common heritage of mankind”; and the convening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. These were some of the factors that led to the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea during which UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was adopted.

UNCLOS: Opened for signature on 10 December 1982 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, at the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS sets forth the rights and obligations of states regarding the use of the oceans, their resources, and the protection of the marine and coastal environment. UNCLOS entered into force on 16 November 1994, and is supplemented by the 1994 Deep Seabed Mining Agreement and the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 54/33: On 24 November 1999, the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/33 on the results of the review undertaken by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development at its seventh session on the theme of “Oceans and Seas.” In this resolution, the General Assembly established an Open-ended Informal Consultative Process to facilitate the annual review of developments in ocean affairs. The General Assembly decided that the Consultative Process would meet in New York and consider the Secretary-General’s annual report on oceans and the law of the sea, and suggest particular issues to be considered by the General Assembly, with an emphasis on identifying areas where intergovernmental and inter-agency coordination and cooperation should be enhanced. The resolution further established the framework within which meetings of the Consultative Process would be organized, and decided that the General Assembly would review the effectiveness and utility of the Consultative Process at its 57th session.

ICP-1 to 3: The first three meetings of the Consultative Process identified issues to be suggested and elements to be proposed to the General Assembly, and highlighted issues that could benefit from attention in its future work. The first meeting of the Consultative Process (30 May – 2 June 2000) held discussion panels addressing fisheries and the impacts of marine pollution and degradation. The second meeting (7-11 May 2001) focused on marine science and technology, and coordination and cooperation in combating piracy and armed robbery at sea. The third meeting (8-15 April 2002) held discussion panels on the protection and preservation of the marine environment, capacity building, regional cooperation and coordination, and integrated oceans management.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 57/141: On 12 December 2002, the 57th session of the General Assembly adopted resolution 57/141 on “Oceans and the law of the sea.” The General Assembly welcomed the previous work of the Consultative Process, extended it for an additional three years, and decided to review the Consultative Process’ effectiveness and utility at its 60th session.

ICP-4 and 5: The fourth meeting of the Consultative Process (2-6 June 2003) adopted recommendations on safety of navigation, the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, and cooperation and coordination on ocean issues. The fifth meeting (7-11 June 2004) adopted recommendations on new sustainable uses of oceans, including the conservation and management of the biological diversity of the seabed in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

ICP-6: The sixth meeting of the Consultative Process (6-10 June 2005) adopted recommendations on fisheries and their contribution to sustainable development, and considered the issue of marine debris.

ICP-7: The seventh meeting (12-16 June 2006) enhanced understanding of ecosystem-based management, and adopted recommendations on ecosystem approaches and oceans.

ICP-8: The eighth meeting (25-29 June 2007) discussed issues related to marine genetic resources. Delegates were unable to agree on key language referring to the relevant legal regime for marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and as a result no recommendations were adopted and a Co-Chairs’ summary report was forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration.

ICP-9: The ninth meeting (23-27 June 2008) adopted recommendations on the necessity of maritime security and safety in promoting the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.

ICP-10: The tenth meeting (17-19 June 2009) produced a Co-Chairs’ summary report collating outcomes of its discussions on the implementation of the outcomes of the Consultative Process, including a review of achievements and shortcomings in its first nine years, which was forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration.

ICP-11: The outcome of the eleventh meeting (21-25 June 2010) was a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions, including on: capacity building for marine science; inter-agency cooperation and coordination; issues that could benefit from attention in future work of the General Assembly on ocean affairs and the law of the sea; and the process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the General Assembly.

ICP-12: The outcome of the twelfth meeting (20-24 June 2011) was a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration. The meeting considered, inter alia: progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of oceans- and seas-related outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development; new and emerging challenges for the sustainable development and use of oceans and seas; and the road to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) and beyond.

ICP-13: The thirteenth meeting (29 May – 1 June 2012) produced a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions detailing: a general exchange of views on marine renewable energies; inter-agency cooperation and coordination; the process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the UN General Assembly; issues that could benefit from attention in future work of the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea; and the outcome of the meeting. The Co-Chairs’ summary was forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration.

ICP-14: The outcome of the fourteenth meeting (17-20 June 2013) was a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions detailing: views on ocean acidification; inter-agency cooperation and coordination; the process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the UN General Assembly; issues that could benefit from attention in future work of the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea; and the outcome of the meeting. The Co-Chairs’ summary was forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration.

ICP-15: The fifteenth meeting (27-30 May 2014) produced a Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration. The meeting considered, among other things, the role of seafood in global food security, inter-agency cooperation and coordination; the process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the General Assembly; and issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea.


Co-Chair Amb. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra opened the sixteenth meeting of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea on Monday, 6 April, noting that this year’s topic is “oceans and sustainable development: integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely, environmental, social and economic.” 

Co-Chair Amb. Don MacKay expressed the expectation that ICP-16 would contribute to the development of a knowledge base for integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development.

Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, highlighted the need for a transformational approach to mobilizing resources for promoting sustained economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

Thomas Gass, speaking on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), emphasized the economic, social and environmental importance of oceans, outlined existing threats and vulnerabilities faced by ocean environments, and underscored the importance of identifying important inter-linkages between the three dimensions of sustainable development.

Co-Chair MacKay then introduced the annotated provisional agenda (A/AC.259/L.16). Supporting the adoption of the agenda, Argentina proposed increasing the level of interaction with regard to the information session under Agenda Item 3 on the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, and suggested that the participation of a DESA representative throughout ICP-16 would be beneficial. The agenda was subsequently adopted without amendment.


On Monday and Thursday morning, delegates met in plenary and delivered general statements on the meeting’s topic. Many delegates congratulated the Co-Chairs on their appointment, and thanked the UN Legal Council, DESA, the UNCLOS Secretariat, and the Secretary-General for the preparation of its advance and unedited report on oceans and the law of the sea to guide the discussions at ICP-16.

South Africa, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), supported by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Chad, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the African Group, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, and Thailand, recalled that this topic was suggested to help better understand the negotiations of the post-2015 development agenda and not to duplicate those efforts. He noted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targets and corresponding reservations by states must not be reopened, and that technology transfer should be an integral part of the SDGs’ means of implementation. He underscored the need for full integration of the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) input, as an expert body, in the UN Statistical Commission’s work on the development of the SDGs’ indicators.

The European Union (EU), supported by Sweden, stressed the importance of oceans and seas and of the UNCLOS provisions for sustainable development. He highlighted a number of EU initiatives and policies aimed at integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development with regard to oceans and seas, including its Common Fisheries Policy, which, among other things, regulates Sustainable Fishery Partnership Agreements and distant water fishing practices. He also noted that the creation of jobs through a blue growth approach, marine spatial planning (MSP) and marine protected areas (MPAs) are important elements of the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy.

Palau, on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), noted that healthy oceans are a determining factor of the region’s future and are threatened by overfishing by distant water fishing nations, pollution and ocean acidification, among others factors. He underscored that the integration of environmental, social and economic dimensions has been a priority for PIF states, as expressed in the Palau Declaration, and noted progress regarding the creation of MPAs. He underscored the importance of enforcing fishing limits and tackling climate change, as well as the need for greater equity between fishing companies and the ocean’s custodians.

Tonga, on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), underscored that oceans and seas are intrinsic components of sustainable development, because food security, maritime transportation and oxygen provision, are common concerns to all states. He suggested the Co-Chair’s summary of discussions be made available to the Co-Facilitators of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations and to the Statistical Commission. He stressed that PSIDS have limited capacity to diversify their economies, and therefore SDG 14, to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” (hereafter Goal 14), is of great importance.

Maldives, on behalf of AOSIS, noted that threats to oceans, seas, marine ecosystems and marine resources are “sky-rocketing” and called for: concrete support for monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing vessels to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; monitoring to predict and identify coral reef bleaching events, including strategies for coral reef resilience and reducing ocean acidification; and international action to address climate change.

South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, emphasized the African Union’s adoption of the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy, which he suggested reflects Africa’s commitment to oceans issues. He outlined the six pillars of Africa’s post-2015 development priorities, which include: structural economic transfer; scientific technology and information; natural resource management; disaster risk management; peace and security; and finance and partnerships.

Noting that UNCLOS is an “indispensable instrument” for the sustainable management and use of oceans’ resources, Jamaica underscored the need to place special focus on the three dimensions of sustainable development, and lamented that the fragmentation of oceans-related agreements at global, regional and national levels impede having a comprehensive governance framework that incorporates these three dimensions.

Fiji described the importance of oceans and seas for tourism and fisheries. Expressing support for SDG 14 as the main way to tackle oceans issues, he stressed that UNCLOS provides the ultimate legal framework under which all activities related to oceans and seas must be carried out, called for a specific global indicator on monitoring IUU fishing and proposed that the ICP, in either 2017 or 2018, focus on how to integrate SDG 14 into countries’ national planning. He closed by explaining that Fiji will focus attention on the establishment of an inclusive international process for the realization of all aspects of SDG 14 by the finalization of the post-2015 development agenda.

Singapore, aligning her comments with the G-77/China and AOSIS, underscored the inextricable link between the three dimensions of sustainable development and reiterated her support for a stand-alone goal on oceans as part of the post-2015 development agenda. She called for the more effective implementation of UNCLOS and enhanced coordination between institutions at the international level and among other UN specialized agencies.

Norway described the meeting’s topic as “highly relevant” and stressed that the three dimensions of sustainable development are mutually reinforcing and must be addressed in an integrated manner. He stated that effective and integrated management of oceans and coasts requires greater investment in scientific research, and in this regard, looks forward to the UN World Ocean Assessment report, due to be published in late 2015. 

Canada noted the ongoing UN-level inter-agency work towards the development of the SDGs and the future efforts required to ensure their implementation once they have been adopted. In this context, she suggested the ICP is well placed to support SDG 14 on oceans and looks forward to hearing about future initiatives in this regard. She agreed with other delegates that the full implementation of UNCLOS is a critical precondition to achieving the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, and suggested that regional approaches are the most appropriate and effective way to implement law and manage resources. 

Describing 2015 as a “pivotal year,” Monaco suggested that the outcomes of the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda in September 2015 will “set a new era of sustainability.” He stressed the need to renew focus on IUU fishing, minimize environmental impacts in coastal areas by urbanization, and ensure that climate change is tackled due to its adverse effects on the marine environment.

Trinidad and Tobago noted that his country’s continued reliance on the exploitation and exploration of living and non-living resources, including oil, gas and fisheries, for sustainable development. He underscored the duty of states to cooperate for the protection and preservation of the marine environment and the sustainable utilization of its resources, which can only be achieved through enhanced capacity. He then highlighted the General Assembly’s discussions on a new UNCLOS implementing agreement on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) to “level the playing field” and ensure developing countries can benefit from those resources and contribute towards sustainable development.

Sweden expressed deep concern about the current state of the oceans and, in this context, commended the inclusion of the oceans and seas goal under the SDGs. He stressed that overfishing, pollution, ocean acidification and deep seabed mining constitute stressors that jeopardize ecosystem services with implications for food security and biodiversity. He highlighted Sweden’s focus on integrated solutions, such as ecosystem-based MSP as a key tool for integrated oceans management (IOM), the need for the value of ecosystem services to become visible and integrated in planning, and the importance of integrating climate and ocean acidification in the management of oceans.

Japan expressed commitment to mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in the post-2015 development agenda through, among other things, material assistance for human and institutional resources and infrastructure, and promoting global and regional cooperation.

The US supported prioritizing science, technology and innovation for sustainable oceans, expressed commitment to a transformative post-2015 development agenda with a dedicated goal on oceans, seas and marine resources, and underscored the value of ICP-16 for providing expertise and input into the post-2015 sustainable development process.

China recommended that the international community take into account countries’ relative levels of development, adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and provide funding for technology transfer and capacity building.

The Philippines stressed the importance of UNCLOS in discussions on SDG 14, describing it as the “bedrock for a rules-based approach to global ocean governance.” Noting the Philippines’ vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, she underscored the need for strengthening capacity for resilience and disaster risk reduction.

Mexico stated that oceans are multi-dimensional and incorporate a broad range of sectors, underscored that UNCLOS provides the legal framework for preserving and sustaining ocean resources, and suggested that SDG 14 provides the framework that must guide discussions at ICP-16.

Madagascar highlighted the blue economy, arguing that promoting natural capital as a strategic approach to national development acts as a driver for the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development. He stressed that a regional approach to promoting inclusive and equitable growth fits within the larger UNCLOS framework and, in that context, set out a number of ocean-related initiatives in East Africa, including the establishment of a Madagascar-based center to combat piracy along Africa’s eastern coast.

The Dominican Republic recognized the legal advances with regard to oceans law and welcomed the forthcoming negotiations towards a new legally binding instrument on BBNJ. He expressed support for SDG 14 on oceans as part of the post-2015 development agenda.

Thailand supported work towards SDG 14 on oceans, and suggested its implementation will be contingent on the political will of states and stakeholders. She concluded by announcing that Thailand has adopted a national plan of action to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing.

On Thursday morning, Chad expressed concern that his country has lost 80% of its internal surface waters due to climate instability. He called for the development of interdependence agreements between countries that do and do not have direct access to the sea to address climate instability issues.

Argentina expressed concern about the proposal to establish a Global Ocean Accountability Board, which was presented by the Global Ocean Commission (GOC) on Wednesday, explaining it is not based on UN practice (see page 8). She suggested that the work of the Statistical Commission and technical agencies should take place under the auspices of the negotiation process to avoid inconsistencies, with technical advice being provided upon request.

Iceland, with the support of Argentina, highlighted the role of DOALOS as the expert legal body on UNCLOS, which is the legal framework for all activities taking place in the oceans and seas. He also expressed concern about the misrepresentation of UNCLOS in SDG Target 14.c, which aims to “ensure the full implementation of international law, as reflected in UNCLOS for states parties to it, including, where applicable, existing regional and international regimes for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by their parties.”

The International Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) recommended that SDG 14 be informed by robust scientific approaches with scientific observations and research as essential components. He highlighted the importance of the ecosystem approach and noted IOC’s work on MSP, capacity building and knowledge transfer. He underscored that IOC’s new global oceans report could provide a useful framework for monitoring progress on the SDGs and invited states to provide national data so capacity gaps and opportunities can be identified.

The World Meteorological Organization described its work on weather, climate, water, and oceans, undertaken in collaboration with IOC. He noted the importance of a science-based approach for the SDG indicators and the need for greater input from marine science to the ongoing political process and means of implementation. He cited data on the state of the climate, which provides clear evidence that ocean warming is driving extreme weather events with associated social implications.

Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, described the organization’s mission and principles on sustainable development, noting economic opportunities for the region in the area of marine renewable and green energy options, integrated management and the blue economy. He underscored the need for capacity building, resilience building, and management measures to address climate change and ocean acidification.

The Dominican Republic supported Fiji’s proposal for a regular summit on the oceans to ensure follow-up on SDG 14, including its indicators. He expressed hope that ICP-16’s summary report will reflect the “blue consciousness of the community.”


On Tuesday morning, Amb. David Donoghue (Ireland), Co-Facilitator of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations, explained that the post-2015 development agenda will constitute goals and targets, global indicators, and a declaration introducing the goals and targets. He noted that the global indicators are a “work in progress” and will likely be finalized by the UN Statistical Commission by March 2016. He said the Statistical Commission has reviewed the SDG targets to ensure they are specific and measurable, action-oriented, and consistent with relevant international agreements, and that there were no suggested revisions on the targets under SDG 14. Donoghue concluded by underscoring the need for a process of “follow up and review” for monitoring implementation of the new agenda.

In the ensuing discussion, Fiji described SDG 14 as “the paradigm shift we have been waiting for” and, in this context, drew attention to the importance of implementing its targets and the recent formation of the Group of Friends of Oceans and Seas. New Zealand expressed surprise that none of SDG 14’s targets were referenced in the Statistical Commission’s review of targets and, supported by Iceland, Norway and the EU, stated their concern over the wording of Target 14.c, that currently states: “ensure the full implementation of international law, as reflected in UNCLOS for states parties to it, including, where applicable, existing regional and international regimes for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by their parties.” He underscored that international law under UNCLOS provides the framework for implementation of SDG 14. Noting the preliminary indicators reflect inaccuracies, Argentina suggested that indicators should be generated through technical consultation. Nauru lamented no mention was made to IUU fishing in the current document on preliminary indicators.

Amb. Donoghue responded that rigorous implementation of SDG 14 is necessary but the exact arrangements are yet to be agreed, and noted comments made about Target 14.c.


On Monday afternoon, and all day Tuesday and Wednesday, delegates heard presentations relating to two segments relevant to the meeting’s topic.

The environmental, social and economic dimensions of oceans and progress made in integrating the three dimensions, including an overview of activities and initiatives promoting their integration: On Monday afternoon, Elliot Harris, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), presented on the utilization of the ecosystem approach under UNEP’s Regional Seas Conventions and their Action Plans to protect the marine environment. He noted that an ecosystem approach enables the implementation of the precautionary approach and the assessment of cumulative impacts on ecosystem services. He explained that the indicators developed under the Regional Seas Programmes to assess and monitor the state of the marine environment could contribute towards the identification of indicators, methods for measuring, and reporting standards for the SDGs. He also highlighted the development of indicators under the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities as potentially useful for the elaboration of indicators on marine litter and nutrient use efficiency under Target 14.1.

In the context of the vulnerability of migrant fishers and seafarers to forced labor and trafficking, Brandt Wagner, International Labour Organization (ILO), highlighted the role of the Maritime Labour Convention, the Work in Fishing Convention, and the Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, which incorporate important mechanisms for flag and port state monitoring and inspection. He highlighted the work of ILO in assisting states in implementing their obligations under these conventions through coordination and integration. He described the Tripartite Action to Protect Migrant Workers within and from the Greater Mekong Sub-region from Labour Exploitation (GMS TRIANGLE project), and noted the need to address forced labor and trafficking in fisheries through the involvement of coastal, flag, port and market states. He also highlighted existing cooperation among the ILO, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and other relevant agencies that results in positive inter-ministerial and inter-agency cooperation at the national level.

Paul Holthus, World Ocean Council, presented on the economic dimensions of ocean sustainable development. He emphasized that sustainable ocean development “is about people,” and said that improved governance cannot succeed without constructive collaboration with those undertaking ocean economic activities, including the private sector. He described the ocean business community as comprised of direct ocean users, ocean user industries, and ocean use infrastructure providers. He detailed their efforts under the Smart Ocean/Smart Industries programme, to increase the number and range of industry vessels and platforms that provide oceanic and atmospheric data to contribute to describing the status, trends and variability of oceanographic information.

Lisa Emelia Svensson, Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Freshwater, Sweden, presented on achieving healthy oceans, a healthy planet and healthy people. She pointed to a number of requirements to spur “blue growth,” including: undertaking MSP for preventing a “Wild West mentality” that operates on a first-come, first-serve basis; promoting integrated management instead of working sector by sector; and establishing ecosystem services as the foundation for a blue economy. She concluded by calling for: reforming production and consumption patterns; mainstreaming awareness in all policy areas; holistic leadership; education for ocean literacy; and cross-sectoral partnerships.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Argentina, Barbados, Canada, EU, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the International Ocean Noise Coalition, and Co-Chair MacKay. Issues discussed included:

•  the different approaches used by regional conventions in the elaboration of indicators, since these are tailored and adapted for each particular circumstance;

•  the continued input from UNEP and other technical agencies to the Statistical Commission in preparation of SDG indicators;

•  clarification that while there is no Regional Seas Convention in Antarctica, the continent is one of the 18 areas covered by the UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme;

•  UNEP’s role in supporting the regional seas in their strategic directions, as requested by Member States;

•  the role of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission in promoting MSP in the Baltic Sea;

•  harnessing industry as an important source of information and data on ecosystems;

•  the role of science to enhance collaboration between industry and civil society;

•  ways and means to use market pressure and standards for reforming unsustainable practices;

•  the challenges associated with protecting marine ecosystems with insufficient data;

•  addressing the costs of sound science when incorporating MSP and the valuation of ecosystem services into small island developing states’ (SIDS) oceans agenda; and

•  regional indicators for SIDS for implementing the new development agenda.

On Tuesday morning, Sebastian Mathew, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, presented on oceans and sustainable development and the adoption of a human rights-based approach to small-scale fisheries. He emphasized that the social pillar of sustainable development is often neglected, and noted the importance of a human rights-based approach to sustainable development, as reflected in the 2014 FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication for social development and empowerment of small-scale fishing communities. He highlighted the benefits of adopting such an approach, including community adherence to responsible fisheries standards, such as the precautionary and ecosystem approaches, and underscored the importance of securing tenure rights to the resources and to locations where the resources are landed. He concluded by citing a quote by Chandrika Sharma, which underscores “adopting a human rights approach for improving the life and livelihoods of fishing communities—and indeed all marginalized groups—is not really a matter of choice but an obligation.”

Simon Bennett, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), presented on sustainable shipping, noting that 90% of the world’s trade is carried out by sea and that this activity will continue to expand. He emphasized that shipping is a driver of green growth, noting the billions of dollars that have been invested in improvements in adherence with IMO standards, including in reducing CO2 emissions and upgrading ballast water treatment equipment. He addressed the social pillar of sustainable development, noting that safety at sea is a high priority for ICS and, in this context, emphasized the role of ILO conventions and instruments. He underscored the “enormous costs” associated with adherence to environmental standards and stated that regulators initially failed to take such costs into account. He called for the need to undertake proper cost-benefit analyses when developing shipping regulations, since the delivery of the environmental and social dimensions require the economic sustainability of the sector.

David Osborn, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), presented on the integration of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of ocean acidification. He explained that the oceans, which absorb 25% of total CO2 emissions, have acidified by 30% since the industrial revolution, and acidification is projected to increase to 170% above original levels by 2100. He stated that current change in ocean acidity is occurring 100 times faster than in the past 100 million years, and is having myriad impacts, including on: calcium carbonate production in shelled organisms; organisms’ physiology and reproduction; food webs; and ecosystem services. He described IAEA’s involvement in the examination of ocean acidification through nuclear isotopes analysis, and the creation of the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre. He called for the reduction of CO2 emissions and adaptation measures including the establishment of MPAs for ecological resilience and economic opportunities, and suggested that indicators for ocean acidification could also help mainstream ocean acidification responses and investment strategies.

Douglas Burnett, International Cable Protection Committee, presented on the economic, social and environmental aspects of submarine cables. He noted that 98% of all international voice, data, video and internet traffic comes through submarine cables and described them as the “lifeblood” of the world economy. Burnett explained that submarine cables have a benign impact on the seabed and have been shown over time to merge with their local environments, including becoming artificial reefs. Concluding his remarks, he underscored the importance of collaboration and transparency between the submarine cable industry and seabed users, suggesting that workshops and conferences are effective means for working together.

On Tuesday afternoon, Lorna Inniss, Coastal Zone Management Unit, Barbados, presented on the land-ocean interface and integrated coastal zone management for sustainable tourism. She described the scientific base on which Barbados has been building its capacity on coastal zone management. She noted that the tourism industry requested government intervention to address coastal erosion and set out the government’s response, which included a feasibility study on coastal conservation focusing on natural assets, their conditions, threats, and solutions, followed by science-based pilot projects. She noted that these projects considered the wind patterns and wave regime as well as bathymetry to better understand how the waves approach Barbados, and associated sand movement patterns. She underscored that once the science was completed they were able to build a beach erosion stabilization program, as part of larger-scale integrated coastal zone management. She concluded by noting that the science produced under the World Ocean Assessment could assist with implementation of SDG 14.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, France, Jamaica, Madagascar, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, DOALOS, IOC, and Co-Chair Meza-Cuadra. Issues discussed included:

•  steps for ameliorating acidification and minimizing impacts on coastal regions in the world;

•  efforts for bringing global attention to the destruction of coral reefs due to acidification;

•  integration of ocean acidification in the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 21) outcome;

•  concerns that the establishment of high seas MPAs could have an adverse impact on shipping;

•  indicators for small-scale artisanal fisheries on governance, such as the implementation of user rights;

•  the challenge of demonstrating the economic, social and environmental value of small-scale fisheries;

•  the effectiveness of UNCLOS to ensure protection of underwater cables and efforts being taken to reduce the risk of entanglement of cables in fishing gear;

•  the importance of involving all stakeholders, including the fishing industry, in developing integrated coastal and marine management plans; and

•  the need for science-policy interface and capacity-building programmes.

Opportunities for, and challenges to, the enhanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in relation to oceans: On Tuesday afternoon, Andrew Hudson, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), presented on the oceans as an engine for sustainable economic development, job creation and poverty reduction. He focused on major threats facing oceans, namely: invasive species, overfishing, plastic pollution, and ocean acidification. He explained how the internalization of such externalities could generate social, environmental and economic opportunities. On invasive aquatic species, he noted that the development of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments resulted in a new global ballast water treatment technology industry valued at over US$40 billion that created 10,000 new jobs. On overfishing, he noted the need for redirection of negative fisheries subsidies to sustainable fisheries measures and MPAs, and underscored that small-scale fisheries create 44 times more jobs per metric tonne of fish than large scale fisheries. He stated that the cost of plastic-related environmental degradation is approximately US$13 billion per year, noting that recycling creates 10 jobs per 1,000 tons with 10% higher wages than in waste management practices. He noted that by 2100, ocean acidification will create an estimated US$1.2 trillion of damage per year and, in this context, noted that the job opportunities in the renewable energy sector are growing in the range of 2.5 to 9.25 times higher than in fossil fuel-based industries.

Robin Mahon, University of the West Indies, presented the implications of the regional-global ocean governance nexus for sustainability in the Wider Caribbean. He described the Wider Caribbean Regional Approach, which analyzed mandates, roles and interactions of regional organizations in order to identify gaps, overlaps and coordinating mechanisms. He stated that that fragmentation of ocean governance arrangements at global and regional levels represents a major impediment to the integration of governance across the three dimensions of sustainability. He argued that a “one-network perspective,” that takes a holistic approach to ocean governance, placing emphasis on network-building interventions that focus on interaction and process, could contribute significantly to reducing the effects of fragmentation.

Transform Aqorau, Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), spoke on reshaping international fisheries management through instituting a programme of restructuring and phase-out of tuna fisheries in the Pacific. He said the eight Pacific Island countries of the PNA are responsible for the world’s largest and most complex fisheries management arrangement for tuna fisheries. Explaining that the principal aim of the PNA is the management of tuna fisheries within PNA countries’ exclusive economic zones on a commercial cost-recovery basis, he described the PNA’s vessel day scheme, whereby specific numbers of fishing days are allocated to each PNA country, who can then sell the “fishing days” to commercial licensees. He stated that moving to rights-based fisheries management has created opportunities for innovation and allowed PNA countries to become more active participants in the fishery.

Wanfei Qiu, China Institute of Marine Affairs, presented on integration of the three pillars of sustainability in ocean development in China. On the environmental pillar, Qiu described a shift from focusing on pollution and species conservation toward an ecosystems approach using MPAs and coastal zone management through restoration of coastal habitats. She described the Shandong Peninsula Blue Economic Zone, focusing on emerging marine sectors including marine renewables, the pharmaceutical industry and tourism. She said the social pillar is dealt with through supporting alternative livelihoods and sustainable management of fisheries resources using fisheries reserves and “zero growth” in fishing capacity. Qiu concluded on the need for improvements in the legal framework to better enable implementation, enhanced coordination between different agencies and levels of government, and promotion of public and stakeholder participation.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Sweden, and Co-Chair MacKay. Issues discussed included:

•  the importance of regional cooperation for capacity-building initiatives and capacity sharing; 

•  regional fisheries management organizations’ partial adherence to scientific advice on total allowable catch and the insufficient implementation of conservation measures resulting in declining stocks, such as bigeye tuna;

•  the need for more transparent decision-making processes in ocean management with regular implementation reviews;

•  closure of the high seas pockets as a management measure in the Pacific;

•  the importance of transboundary cooperation and conservation measures based on migratory patterns of species and the inter-connectivity of ecosystems;

•  the need for rights-based management frameworks that impose catch limits;

•  challenges related to addressing fragmentation through governance coherence while ensuring legitimacy;

•  challenges associated with the overcapitalization of fishing fleets;

•  the importance of monitoring, control and surveillance, including by electronic monitoring systems and independent audits for the vessel day scheme; and

•  market states’ responsibility for the conservation of endangered stocks, such as bigeye tuna.

On Wednesday morning Rémi Parmentier, GOC, presented via video from Madrid on a report by GOC entitled “From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean,” and set out proposed elements of indicators for SDG 14. He called on the global oceans community to play a role in supporting the UN Statistical Commission to develop strong, practical, politically- and policy-relevant, and action-oriented indicators. He concluded by recommending the formation of an independent Global Ocean Accountability Board to benchmark progress on oceans’ sustainable management and report back to the international community.

Biliana Cicin-Sain, Global Ocean Forum, presented an overview of enabling factors and measures for integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development in relation to oceans. Based on the findings of a recent publication, “Routledge Handbook of National and Regional Ocean Policies,” she discussed how fifteen nations and four regions have attempted to merge the three dimensions of sustainable development through integrated ocean governance at national and regional levels. In this context, she underscored the importance of: enabling conditions, such as legal frameworks; integration at the policy, planning and management levels; marine science; infrastructure; capacity building; and resource mobilization. She highlighted success factors such as: existence of ocean principles; formal coordination institutions for integrated outcomes; political support; binding policies; enabling stakeholders; and adequate funding. On SDG 14, she underscored the importance of taking into account the overall SDG package and emphasizing crosscutting social and economic indicators. 

Helena Motta, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), presented on small-scale fisheries in Africa and the need for equitable access, tenure rights and sustainable fisheries. She noted that small-scale fisheries employ over 90% of the world’s capture fishers and fish workers, and that 10 million Africans rely on small-scale fisheries for their livelihood. She underscored that open-access resources are leading to over-exploitation and habitat destruction and that small-scale fisheries are subject to conflicts with industrial fisheries, infrastructure, tourism and other sectors. She highlighted the need for improved access and tenure rights as well as the adoption of a range of supportive mechanisms, such as licensing systems, creation of MPAs with no-take zones, and MSP. She then described the development of globally-relevant social indicators by WWF, namely: index of natural resource governance; index of competition and conflict over natural resource use and access; and share of user groups with improved access to resources.

Vasco Becker-Weinberg, Secretariat of State of the Seas, Portugal, described Portugal’s legal regime on MSP and management of the maritime space, integrating the environmental, social and economic dimensions. He explained that the systems involve three stages, namely defining: the state of the art of the maritime area; how rights are granted through using concessions and authorizations; and the economic and financial regime through linking the national legal framework with international policy. He said the main goal of MSP legislation is to facilitate the concurrent operation of many otherwise competing activities and contributing to social cohesion. He underscored the importance of MSP to coastal states and, in this context, underscored the need for public discussion and transparency in decision-making processes. He concluded by stating that MSP requires taking into account the interconnectivity of maritime area, oceans and seas and, as a result, it promotes regional and cross-border cooperation.

Silvia Velo, Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, Italy, presented on MPAs and sustainability through a Mediterranean approach to the sustainable development and blue growth of SIDS. She drew on similarities between SIDS and Mediterranean small islands including their vulnerability to natural disasters, narrow range of resources, geographic dispersion, and fragile ecosystems. Explaining that priority areas for blue growth in Italian small islands include tourism, small-scale fisheries, and aquaculture, she said Italy’s blue growth approach aims to jointly address: the environmental dimension through protecting vulnerable and fragile ecosystems; the social dimension through acknowledging the fundamental historic, cultural and archaeological value of small islands; and the economic dimension by supporting economic growth in coastal communities through MPAs.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic, EU, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Vietnam, and Co-Chair Meza-Cuadra. Issues discussed included:

•  the composition of the Global Ocean Accountability Board;

•  whether a Global Ocean Accountability Board accords with UN practices;

•  a proposal to hold a series of triennial meetings to assess the implementation of SDG 14;

•  the value of GOC expertise in developing indicators;

•  preference for an indicator on fisheries subsidies that requires reporting subsidies by type rather than effect;

•  an acknowledgment that national statistics offices already participate in developing indicators;

•  how to balance long-term and short-term approaches to the implementation of IOM;

•  the importance of appropriate legal and policy frameworks for implementing IOM through enhanced interagency cooperation at international, regional, national and local levels;

•  conflicts between small- and large-scale fisheries, as well as with the oil and gas sector, including the insufficient political representation of the small-scale fishery sector;

•  the need for small-scale fishery access and tenure rights, MSP, and effective enforcement of relevant laws and policies;

•  the need for an international framework to test the concept of IOM in areas beyond national jurisdiction, as has been discussed by the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Informal Working Group on Issues relating to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ Working Group);

•  challenges associated with regional IOM development when IOM is not incorporated into national frameworks; and

•  how mainstreaming marine planning and licensing processes can attract sustainable investments.

On Wednesday afternoon, Kwame Koranteng, FAO, spoke about strengthening the knowledge base for sustainable development in fisheries, based on experience from implementing the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) in Africa. Koranteng said the EAF framework considers ecological wellbeing, human wellbeing, and the ability to achieve these components through governance. He outlined the EAF-Nansen Project, explaining that it aims to strengthen developing countries’ knowledge base for implementing EAF. He highlighted problems encountered through the project, including insufficient management and scientific capacity, limited ability to engage stakeholders effectively, and conflicts between long-term goals of sustainability and short-term social and economic needs. Going forward he said the project plans to look at the interface between policy objectives and activities of fishers to implement a well-functioning fisheries administration with monitoring capacity and the establishment of a fisheries management cycle.

Julian Barbière, IOC, presented on technology transfer and marine science as enabling measures for integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development. He stressed that the science-policy interface at different scales is critical to the development of ocean-related law and policy and requires that agencies and institutions translate scientific information into relevant policy outcomes. On capacity-development needs and capabilities in ocean science, he identified: the importance of strengthening technical resources and infrastructure; the need to create incentives for the continuous upgrading of professional knowledge; opportunities to take advantage of global experts to implement capacity-development programmes; the development of long-term training programmes; seeking support for vessel research; and the need for developing ocean research policies to support sustainable development. Barbière concluded that SDG 14 requires, among other things, strong scientific underpinning; better articulation of global assessment processes; marine technology transfer mechanisms; ocean capacity development partnerships among UN agencies; and a baseline assessment to guide capacity development, technology transfer and to measure progress.

Shankuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, WorldFish, presented on capacity building for enhanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, with a focus on coastal communities. She noted that SDG 14 has strong relationships with SDGs 5 and 12 on gender equity and sustainable production and consumption, respectively, and should be considered together. She noted that in Bangladesh, dried fish is a major component in the population’s diet, especially lower income groups, and that roughly 85% of dried fish is comprised of marine species. She recommended that to strengthen capacity within coastal communities, emphasis should be given to: common tools and indicators to measure labor, wellbeing and equity; innovative communication and dissemination; and the role and responsibilities of national and local governments. She noted the importance of international organizations, such as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and FAO in facilitating capacity building, and underscored that human rights, equity, good governance, and environmental aspects must underpin sustainability.

Nicole Glineur, Global Environment Facility (GEF), presented on the GEF’s contribution to sustainable oceans in addressing drivers of environmental degradation and the integration of socio-economic and environmental dimensions. She noted that the GEF’s biodiversity funding is approximately US$1.6 billion, with co-financing of about US$5 billion; that funding for the International Water Programme is approximately US$ 1.5 billion, with co-financing of about US$5 billion; and that funding for the Adaptation to Climate Change Programme is approximately US$444 million, with co-financing of roughly US$2 billion. She noted a number of multi-focal area projects and programmes, such as the Coral Triangle Initiative, the Global Sustainable Fisheries Management in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction Programme, emphasizing that these projects also promote job creation.

The following countries, organizations and individuals commented or asked questions: Argentina, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, and FAO. Issues discussed included:

•  recognizing the voluntary work by states and experts on drafting the first World Ocean Assessment Report;

•  coordination of research between the IOC and the International Seabed Authority;

•  a potential clearinghouse mechanism for transfer of marine technology;

•  potential indicators for measuring progress toward a target on technology transfer and increasing scientific knowledge, such as infrastructure and human capacity, financial investment in marine science, and interactivity and exchange between countries;

•  emphasis on the need for good governance within the fishing sector as well as between sectors through integrated coordination and harmonization;

•  not using a lack of knowledge as a reason for stalling progress;

•  the availability of data generated under the EAF-Nansen project through the Nansen Survey Information System;

•  regional mechanisms for addressing the gaps between top-down global and bottom-up local approaches;

•  steps for enhancing the contribution of women in fisheries; and

•  microcredit for supporting alternative income generating activities.


On Thursday morning, Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, provided a progress report on the work of UN-Oceans on behalf of its members, including on the identification of possible areas for cooperation and synergies based on the development of an inventory of mandates of its members, and the development of an electronic database platform. He recalled the invitation of the General Assembly to Member States and others interested in making financial contributions earmarked for UN-Oceans to the Voluntary Trust Fund. He also reported on a recent UN-Oceans meeting at IMO, where members expressed an interest in, among other things, the BBNJ Working Group, the SDGs, the post-2015 development agenda, and UNFCCC COP-21. He noted that the summary of the first World Ocean Assessment will be issued to the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, and that several members of UN-Oceans have contributed to the peer-review of the draft.


On Thursday morning, Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, UN Office of Legal Affairs, provided an update on the financial status of the Voluntary Trust Fund for the purpose of assisting developing countries, in particular SIDS and landlocked developing countries, to attend the meetings of the ICP. She thanked New Zealand for their 2014 contribution, noting that DOALOS disbursed approximately US$16,280 and that the balance of the Voluntary Trust Fund after this meeting will be approximately US$28,300. She recalled paragraph 296 of General Assembly resolution 69/245, whereby the General Assembly expressed serious concern regarding the lack of resources available in the Voluntary Trust Fund and encouraged Member States to make financial contributions. She concluded by thanking everyone that has made contributions in past years, and noted that DOALOS counts on future support to ensure that the Voluntary Trust Fund maintains a workable balance.


On Thursday morning, Co-Chair Meza-Cuadra invited comments on the composite streamlined list of issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly, prepared by the Co-Chairs on the basis of Part C of the reports on the work of the Consultative Process from its fourth to fifteenth meetings (A/58/95, A/59/122, A/60/99, A/61/156, A/62/169, A/63/174 and Corr.1, A/64/131, A/65/164, A/66/186, A/67/120, A/68/159, A/69/90). The document sets out a wide array of specific issues under the following headings, presented in the order they appear: marine protected areas; implementation of international instruments; uses of the oceans; science/technology/data, including capacity building; ecosystem approaches to oceans; food security; conservation and management of living marine resources; international cooperation and coordination; marine environment; issues discussed at previous meetings; marine biological diversity and genetic resources; flag state responsibilities; human rights and labor rights; maritime security; maritime safety; settlement of disputes; hazard preparedness/mitigation; social aspects of oceans and the law of the sea; climate change and oceans; oceans and sustainable development; and “other,” which refers to threats to the oceans. Argentina underscored the importance of fisheries subsidies. Noting no further delegations indicated the desire to speak, Co-Chair Meza-Cuadra stated that further comments could be submitted electronically to the Secretariat, and concluded consideration of this agenda item.


CO-CHAIRS’ SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS: On Friday, Co-Chair MacKay introduced a draft of the Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions. He reminded delegates that the document is not a “negotiated text” and is intended for “reference purposes only,” and invited delegates to identify major and substantive issues for revision and clarification. Delegates considered the summary document page-by-page. Sections that received comments are discussed below.

With reference to the entire document, Argentina requested expressions such as “blue growth,” “blue economy” and “ocean governance” be referenced in inverted commas or reworded, noting these are not officially accepted terms.

General exchange of views: Argentina made the following comments and recommendations: changing recollection of commitments made in other “international instruments” to “international documents;” stating that UNCLOS “is” the relevant legal framework instead of being “the legal framework with regard to the discussion on oceans in the context of the post-2015 development agenda;” reflecting that the role of DOALOS goes “beyond the law of the sea and covers oceans issues;” clarifying that “one,” not “some” delegations expressed support for establishing an open international process to review effective implementation of SDG 14; including reference to concerns around overcapacity and fishing subsidies; describing the legally-binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction as a “necessary step toward” not “an example of” an integrated approach; underscoring the coordinating role of DOALOS at all levels; and stating that the language of Target 14.c should be aligned to comply with UNCLOS.

Madagascar requested including a reference to “The Antananarivo Communiqué” on “Harnessing the Blue Economy for Development in East Africa” when referencing other international documents and instruments. Brazil suggested that the document should be referred to as a “Summary of the Co-Chairs,” not as an “outcome.” Argentina stated that because the final version of the summary will be a public document, it does not require formal transmission to the co-facilitators of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

Information session: Referencing the summary’s assertion that a set of indicators would be finalized by March 2016, Canada requested clarification about whether there would be discussion on indicators at the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.  

Oceans and sustainable development: integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely, environmental, social and economic: On a comment made by Argentina on the use of the term “blue economy” in describing Amb. Svensson’s presentation, Amb. MacKay, supported by Sweden, suggested directly quoting a larger portion of Svensson’s description of developing a blue economy. The Philippines proposed text reflecting the evidence presented on the good condition and resilience of corals in some areas under their jurisdiction was not an observation but comes from “available national data” and asked for the inclusion of a sentence explaining that the connectivity between and among the relevant countries shows that coral reef destruction in one area impacts other countries in the region.

Opportunities for, and challenges to, the enhanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in relation to oceans: Argentina made the following comments and recommendations: requesting clear reporting on the specific language used by the GOC regarding indicators and adding “he said further work was required,” to reflect that this view was that of the presenter, and not of the ICP; making it clear that the reference to “fragmentation in ocean governance” was identified by particular delegates to be an impediment to integration, rather than a shared identification; adding wording to reflect that Argentina had “noted that the transfer of marine technology was at the core of Part XIV of UNCLOS;” correcting the reference that all scientific research activities in the oceans constituted marine scientific research relates to Part XIII of UNCLOS, not Part XIV as stated in the report; on the role of experts in the process of developing indicators, refer to having “input from states’ oceans experts and competent organizations of the UN system;” and reflecting that suggestion of a global ocean accountability board is “not a convincing idea.”

The Federated States of Micronesia requested all references to the “South Pacific” be changed to the “Pacific.” Italy wanted reference to MPAs as a “model” for sustainable development and blue growth of SIDS to be described as an “approach.” China explained their intervention on transboundary arrangements was general and requested changing mention of “such agreements” to “transboundary cooperation” to reflect she was not referring to the specific initiatives mentioned. China proposed changing the wording on the challenges of enforcing targets to illustrate centralized decision-making “is not fully aware of conservation needs” and had “insufficient involvement of local stakeholders.”

There were no comments on the following sections of the report: inter-agency cooperation and coordination; process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the General Assembly; and issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea.


 On Friday, Co-Chair Meza-Cuadra thanked delegates and participants for their active participation as well as the panelists for the excellent and focused presentations, noting the subject was challenging but extremely useful. Argentina, Australia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, EU, Madagascar, Norway, South Africa, on behalf of G-77/China, Tonga, and the US, thanked Co-Chair MacKay for his “very able leadership” and “professional virtues and friendship.”

MacKay expressed his “huge pleasure working together in a very un-polarized way to advance the cause and interest of the oceans.”

Co-Chair Meza-Cuadra adjourned the meeting at 1:03 pm.


The 16th session of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea convened shortly in advance of a milestone moment for the global oceans agenda: the final negotiations on the UN post-2015 development agenda and the finalization of a standalone goal on oceans, seas and marine resources. This process will adopt a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals in September 2015 and will establish the sustainable development agenda for the next 15 years.

ICP-16 provided an important venue for shedding light on the substance of SDG 14 on oceans and seas and a possible procedure for its implementation, through its targets and indicators. The meeting also provided a useful opportunity to reflect on the utility of the Consultative Process in the evolution of the international oceans agenda. This brief analysis assesses the meeting’s engagement with SDG 14, examines the Consultative Process’s role and concludes by reflecting on the sentiment expressed by many that its flexibility is a major strength.

SDG 14

Throughout the week delegates heard from a diverse group of panelists on the environmental, social and economic dimensions of oceans and their integration in the context of SDG 14. On Tuesday, Amb. David Donoghue, Co-Facilitator of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations, presented on the post-2015 development agenda’s goals and targets. This provided delegates the opportunity to give feedback on SDG 14, its associated targets and the provisional indicators produced by the UN Statistical Commission. While the post-2015 outcomes are still under negotiation, there appeared to be a general consensus that the overall structure of the 17 goals, including SDG 14, will be maintained. SDG 14’s draft targets were broadly accepted by delegates at ICP-16, with the notable exception of Target 14.c, which calls for the “the full implementation of international law, as reflected in UNCLOS for state parties to it, including, where applicable, existing regional and international regimes for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by their parties.” The concern voiced by a number of delegates relates to the reference to “parties to UNCLOS,” since the Convention’s provisions are generally considered to be rules of customary international law and, in line with this reasoning, are therefore applicable to all states, whether or not they are parties to UNCLOS. Many delegates stated that UNCLOS constitutes the international legal framework for the regulation of all activities at sea, and the introduction of this qualifier under Target 14.c weakens the international understanding of the legal standing of UNCLOS, a convention that is also known as the “Constitution for the Oceans.” Notwithstanding the fact that a recent review of the SDG targets by the UN Statistical Commission did not propose any changes to the oceans targets, a number of delegates were concerned that DOALOS has not been consulted on the legal aspects of this particular target. 

Amb. Donoghue also discussed the indicators, which garnered a range of responses. On a procedural level, a number of delegates lamented the limited information about how SDG 14’s indicators are being developed and noted a lack of clarity on the specific contributions of relevant UN technical bodies. Furthermore, delegates commented informally on the SDG timeline mismatch, since the indicators are not expected to be finalized until March 2016, which is after the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015. Therefore, according to some, the involvement of national statistical offices beyond September must be ensured and the process for input from technical agencies and experts should also be further clarified.

On a substantive level, while acknowledging the working draft of the indicators circulated in March 2015 was provisional and open to further input, delegates expressed frustration that during ICP-16 there was no opportunity for meaningful discussion on the content of the indicators themselves. This was exemplified by frequent mention of the omission of an indicator on IUU fishing, an issue cited as being directly relevant to the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development. As some have noted, a more in-depth discussion at ICP-16 on SDG 14’s preliminary indicators would have been beneficial for the identification of gaps and opportunities for integration of the three dimensions.

There was also general agreement that the preliminary indicators on small-scale fisheries are deemed inadequate to measure the social dimensions of Target 14.b, which aims to “provide access for small-scale fisheries to marine resources and markets.” Concern was also expressed that the target’s preliminary indicators do not seem to provide a comprehensive monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. This concern was coupled with calls from panelists and participants for taking into account the relationship between SDG 14 and the other SDGs, particularly those concerning food security and poverty eradication.

Notwithstanding the general positivity about SDG 14, there was a broader point raised by some delegates who questioned how much coul