– The crisis the Ocean is in is acute and comparable to climate change
The first UN summit solely on the Ocean issue was convened by Sweden and Fiji and took place 5.-9. June 2017 in New York. The Call for Action declaration of the conference calls for swift action to rescue the sea and stresses the link between climate change and the state of the ocean. BSAG participated in the conference as a part of Finnish delegation and brought to stage problems and solutions from the Baltic Sea.
The Call for Action declaration, approved also by the US, calls for the implementation of the Paris Climate Pact, despite the fact that President Trump has announced the US withdrawal from the Climate Agreement. In addition to sea level rise and ocean warming, the marine ecosystem is threatened by acidification caused by carbon dioxide emissions. When more than half of the oxygen we breath is generated in the oceans, the consequences of ecosystem failure would be fatal also for mankind. Other hot topics at the meeting were plastic waste and ocean pollution. Even eutrophication, well-known at the Baltic Sea, can already be seen even in the areas with larger water masses. Eutrophication exacerbates acidification further.
“We need to move from a linear economy to circular economy. And the Finnish government is giving significant funding for nutrient recycling, that would minimize nutrient emissions into the Baltic Sea.” Stated the head of the Finnish delegation, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, Hannele Pokka. Hannele Pokka also stressed the importance of swift implementation the Paris Climate Agreement.
BSAG organized an own side-event on nutrient recycling and climate in the conference on Wednesday, June 7th. Also present were The Helsinki Region Environmental Services, HSY and Outotec ltd. presenting their actions as part of the Nutrient Recycling business ecosystem. Also represented were the activities by Soilfood Oy to recycle nutrients and help the condition of the soil.. Professor Markku Viitasalo from the Finnish Environment Institute told the full room of international audience about the characteristics and specific problems of the Baltic Sea. Baltic Sea Action Group presented its’ mode of action to accelerate public-private partnership in the Baltic Sea region.
The five-day Summit seeking solutions to the declining state of the ocean, also collected voluntary commitments. More than 13000 Commitments were gathered, especially from governments and civil society actors, but also from private companies. Finland participates in joint commitments with HELCOM, Sweden and the EU. The Baltic Sea Action Group also made a commitment to UN on promoting nutrient recycling and soil carbon sequestration in the Baltic Sea region to combat eutrophication, climate change and acidification.
Commitments were collected for the Baltic Sea for the first time in February 2010 at the Baltic Sea Action Summit in Helsinki, Finland. The Baltic Sea Action Group was one of the organizers of the Baltic Sea Summit, and BSAG still monitors and gathers Commitments for the Baltic Sea.
Currently, it is not clear how the UN’s Ocean Commitments are monitored and reported. Portugal’s commitment is to hold the next Ocean conference in 2020. The summit three-years from now would be a logical place to report on the Commitments made now. The next meeting on EU level will be held in Malta on October, so the process is moving fast. The clear consensus of the conference was that there is no time to wait
UN Ocean conference : https://oceanconference.un.org
Call for action: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/CONF.230/11&Lang=E
BSAG Commitment to UN: https://oceanconference.un.org/commitments/?id=18085