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Commonwealth Secretary-General to participate in second Oceans Forum in Geneva

13 July 2018

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will participate in a high level United Nations forum to find sustainable ways for millions of people to make a living from the world's oceans.

The Oceans Forum enables effective partnerships by bringing UN agencies together with intergovernmental groups such as the Commonwealth and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, along with think-tanks including the International Oceans Institute. Together, these organisations tackle issues such as harmful fisheries subsidies and illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing.  The first Forum took place in March 2017.

The second Oceans Forum will take place in Geneva on 16 July 2018, under the theme Achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Sustainable fish and seafood value chains and trade.  It will take stock, exchange experiences and present options for the implementation of trade-related targets.

High-level representation and participation of the Commonwealth is of particular importance, because one third of the world’s coastal waters lie within the jurisdiction of Commonwealth countries.  The fisheries and aquaculture within those waters provide food and livelihoods for millions of people. However, decades of over-fishing, degradation of fish stocks, and loss of biodiversity have put the sustainability of this industry in question.

The Secretary-General said: “Heads of Government adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter, setting out the principles by which Commonwealth member countries will lead international efforts by sustainably developing and protecting their ocean. Our Heads agreed to establish Action Groups on ocean issues led by Commonwealth member countries, which will collaborate with partners at national, regional, and international levels, in addressing identified priority ocean issues of member countries.”

She added: "From the time that SDG14 on sustainable use of the oceans was agreed by the international community back in 2015, the Commonwealth has played a full part in convening support and developing thinking on its effective implementation.”