The Ocean Conference opened on Monday, 5 June 2017. Plenary addressed organizational matters and heard statements from high-level Member State representatives and UN officials. In the afternoon, a partnership dialogue focused on addressing marine pollution.
Plenary elected Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, and Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, as Conference Co-Presidents.
Recalling the borderless nature of the ocean, Co-President Isabella Lövin expressed hope for the conference to be the “game changer” the ocean needs. Co-President Frank Bainimarama highlighted the threats of climate change and ocean litter, noting that greedy nations and commercial interests threaten livelihoods in small island developing states.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres pointed towards ways SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) serves as a roadmap towards a clean ocean, including: ending the dichotomy between economic activities and ocean health; building strong partnerships and political leadership based on the existing legal framework, such as on MPAs and fisheries management; making new funding commitments; deepening our knowledge base; and sharing best practices. General Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) considered the UN Ocean Conference the “best opportunity we will ever have to reverse the cycle of decline in which human activities have put the ocean.”
In the afternoon, a partnership dialogue on addressing marine pollution shared perspectives on challenges and solutions on marine litter, including addressing land-based pollution and reducing plastics and microplastics production and consumption. [/restrict]