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The Ocean Conference

The Commonwealth includes most of the world’s small island developing states as well as many other coastal nations who depend on the seas. Forty-five of our 52 members are ocean states and 24 are small island developing states (SIDS) - countries like Fiji, Seychelles, Barbados and Tonga.

The governments and people of these countries rely on the marine environment for economic growth, livelihoods and sustenance. However, threats ranging from climate change, overexploitation, inequity in the sharing of resource wealth, and a lack of economic resilience put their future at risk.

The Ocean Conference

Between 5 and 9 June 2017, the high-level United Nations Ocean Conference in New York brought together governments, international and financial institutions, civil society, academics, scientists and the private sector.

The aim was to deliver on a joint commitment to conserve and sustainably use the seas and marine resources, known as Sustainable Development Goal 14, by sharing experiences and developing innovative partnerships.

Coinciding with World Oceans Day, the conference aimed to be “the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity”. It was co-hosted by the governments of Fiji and Sweden.

The Commonwealth at the conference 

Leading a delegation from the Commonwealth, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland outlined to the conference how the Commonwealth Secretariat is supporting its member countries through a range of practical policy solutions to achieve SDG 14.


The Commonwealth hosted and participated in the following events:

A Blue Commonwealth: high-level roundtable

6 June 2017, 13:15-14:30

Hosted by Seychelles and the Commonwealth Secretariat, this side event was opened by the Prime Minister of Fiji and included participation from Bangladesh, Barbados, Cyprus, Grenada and Tonga, UNCTAD and civil society. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland gave introductory remarks. Find out more.

SDG14 and trade in fish: UNCTAD event

6 June 2017, 08:45-10:00

This UNCTAD event saw presentations of two flagship reports on world fisheries and trade. It was followed by a high level dialogue featuring remarks by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland. Find out more.

High Level Exchange: Pacific Leadership through Innovative Approaches to the Oceans Economy - Pacific 2050

8 June 2017, 18:00-19:30

This UNCTAD event showcased leadership on the oceans economy through innovations developed and adapted to the Pacific. Highlights were presented from 'A Sustainable Future for Small States: Pacific 2050', a forthcoming report from the Commonwealth Secretariat. Find out more.
Our work in oceans 

The Commonwealth Secretariat leads the way in supporting small island and coastal member countries to manage sustainably the marine environment, while realising its economic potential for the benefit of the nation.

For nearly three decades, we have provided advice and technical assistance to more than 30 countries to help them claim their maritime territory under international law, and manage their ocean-based natural resources.

We are a pioneer of the ‘blue economy’ concept, which marries the objective of unlocking value from the seas with the imperative of conservation. Find out more about our policy advice to governments through The Blue Economy Series.

In addition, we support our member governments in trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization, including on rules relating to fisheries subsidies. 

Find out more about our work in oceans: thecommonwealth.org/oceans

Social media

Join the conversation online at @CommonwealthSec #BlueCommonwealth #saveouroceans

Contact the team

- Rosemarie Cadogan, Adviser and Interim Head of Oceans and Natural Resources – r.cadogan@commonwealth.int
- Jodie Keane, Economic Adviser (Trade Policy Analysis) – j.keane@commonwealth.int

Media enquiries

For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact Will Henley at w.henley@commonwealth.int