In January 2019, New Zealand’s compliance with international human rights treaties and norms will once again come under scrutiny at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Ahead of this five-yearly review by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, in October the New Zealand Human Rights Commission facilitated the first-ever in-country pre-sessions held in three locations around NZ.
So the end of the conference has reached us, yet, the inspiration from the people who was around me is still so strong. What a lovely bunch of people, I am so very lucky to have met each and every one of you.
For the United Nations, this has been a series of “first’s”, this is the first time they have included the Ocean as its own sustainable development goal, this is the first time a high-level conference has been held to talk about the Ocean and it’s sustainable development and the mitigation/adaptation of climate change, and it is the first time states can come together to talk about partnerships in the first series of “partnership dialogues” held by the UN. The Ocean connects us, that was the overwhelming understanding at the conference, therefore, we need to come together to talk about how we can start to help the Ocean from the many issues that it faces, including climate change, over-fishing, pollution, debris, the list goes on. It is important to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development- we must start to discuss the progress of each nation as well as what each nation will commit to do in the coming years leading to 2030, through the voluntary commitment scheme for the conference
In all, the conference certainly showed me one thing, how much more we have ahead of us to do if we are to achieve SDG 14 by 2030. The voluntary commitments and growing partnerships are a positive step in the right direction, but we need to do more. As mentioned in my previous blog, the grass root organizations and NGOs are doing a spectacular job in helping to achieve some positive groundwork towards the sustainable development and conservation of our oceans, but it is time that the governments start to take charge.
In New Zealand, our connection with the Ocean is seemingly ingrained in our souls. Each New Zealander which I spoke to detailed their deep, unwavering love for the Ocean, and what they are willing to do to help “her”. However, New Zealand as a whole as a fair way to go before we are able to achieve what we set out to do. The issues which the Oceans face is multi-faceted, and there are a plethora of hurdles to overcome, seemingly simultaneously before we are to start making some traction towards a more sustainable future. To start, we really need to: 1. Bridge the freshwater-marine connection through adequate legislation. In New Zealand, we have no such legislation, and hence, eutrophication from farm run-off is having a significantly negative impact on the health of the Ocean and is negatively feeding into Ocean Acidification. We need to have solid legislation in order to reduce the stress such pollution is having on the Ocean. 2. We need to address over-fishing in our EEZ and across the high seas. 3. We must address our pollution problem, especially plastic pollution. We must look at stopping single-use plastic items as well as prohibit micro-plastics. 4. We need to help our Pacific sisters and brothers, we need to help them in achieving their sustainable development goals and build capacity for research and forming legislation, especially in addressing the impacts of climate change and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and negative fishing subsidies. 5. We need to include the indigenous voice, there is a plethora of traditional knowledge that we need to listen to and bring to the table… the list goes on.
It is time we come together and start pushing forward towards a more sustainable Ocean, and although government can sometimes be a bit of a tortoise, it is comforting to know that we have heros helping the Ocean in the way of the wonderful individuals I have met at the conference and the wonderful organizations who are leading the way towards a much brighter future.
All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.