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Turning the tide on ocean health in the Commonwealth

17 January 2018

Experts from the Commonwealth will this week provide a preview of an ambitious new initiative to support member countries rebuild and sustainably manage their marine resources.

To be formally launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April, the Commonwealth’s Blue Charter will mobilise Commonwealth cooperation in implementing ocean-related commitments.

“Acting on the myriad of obligations can be overwhelming for many of our 45 coastal countries,” said Jeff Ardron, an Advisor on Ocean Governance at the Commonwealth.  He will address delegates at the 25th Coastal Futures conference, in London, UK.  “Following six months of consultation, our membership has clearly expressed concern both for our oceans and how they can begin to repair the damage that has been done. Solutions will only come through working together.”

The Coastal Futures conference will be attended by industry leaders, marine experts and practitioners. It comes at a time of heightened interest in the health and wealth of the world’s seas.

The Blue Charter initiative, which will be formally considered by Heads of Government when they meet in London in April, seeks to create a network of champion countries to identify and prioritise areas of concern and share knowledge and technical know-how. The idea gained immediate support from member countries last June, when it was trialled at the UN Ocean Conference in New York. Since then, efforts have focussed on drafting the text and implementation plan.

“We are seeking to plug some of the implementation  gaps and to speed up progress towards meeting our shared commitments. Through pooling our resources, we intend to create new partnerships, beyond established groupings,” said Mr Ardron.

The Commonwealth’s Blue Charter will recognise that the full potential of an ocean-based economy requires the effective inclusion of all groups, especially women, young people, local communities, and marginalised and underrepresented groups.  It will reaffirm the values contained in the Charter of the Commonwealth, and will enable Commonwealth cooperation and support in progressing these commitments, with a view to furthering sustainable blue economic development and conservation.