The Start of an Important Global Conversation on the Blue Economy
Jonathan Wilkinson is Canada's Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. A Rhodes Scholar, Wilkinson holds Masters Degrees from Oxford University and McGill University.
OTTAWA, Nov 23 2018 (IPS) - This November, Canada, along with Kenya and Japan, is proud to host the world’s first global conference focused on the world’s ocean economy: the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, designed to follow the G7 meeting, brings together the international community to discuss ocean economic opportunities and ocean sustainability. This is a crucial step in ensuring the benefits of the blue economy and of a healthy ocean today and for future generations. The world needs to focus on preserving and restoring the ocean’s health while seizing the economic opportunities that come from doing so.
The blue economy provides jobs for hundreds of millions of people around the world – and generates trillions of dollars. In Canada alone, 350,000 jobs depend on the ocean and 36 billion dollars of our national GDP is generated by the ocean economy.
It is a critical example that the environment and the economy go hand in hand.
This conference comes at a critical time. Across the world, thousands of tons of fishing gear are lost and discarded in seas and oceans every year, putting marine life in jeopardy and clogging up harbours. Climate change is warming our ocean at faster rates than we had imagined. And the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing market is scooping up millions of kilograms of fish each and every year.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said “the ocean economy is essential to the future well being and prosperity of humankind. It is a key source of food, energy, health, leisure and transport on which millions of people depend”.
As our global population continues to grow, we increasingly understand that we will need to rely on our oceans to provide for our global needs of food, trade and livelihoods. Canada is committed to building a sustainable ocean economy that can prosper for many.
Canada made the ocean a cornerstone of our G7 Presidency. Ocean science and observation; addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; achieving marine conservation targets; addressing ocean plastics including “ghost fishing gear”; restoring and rebuilding fish stocks and marine biodiversity; preventing and controlling invasive species; being prepared for marine emergencies; and improving marine safety are key elements of Canada’s ocean agenda.
The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is the start of an important global conversation. One hundred and fifty countries will be participating. Over 10,000 people are expected to attend. The stakes are high, the time is short. Global environmental and sustainability challenges needs global solutions. We must work with the United Nations, our G7 partners, our Commonwealth partners, other international organisations, small island developing states, non-governmental and business groups, who want a vibrant blue economy and a healthy ocean.
We look to the Conference to shape the international cooperation and collective actions needed to seize the opportunities and to meet the challenges. Success will show the essential relationship between environmental sustainability and economic growth, and we are committed to success.
As a country that is bordered by three oceans: the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific, and home to the longest coastline in the world – protecting our oceans for future generations and ensuring the sustainability of this marine resource is of critical importance.
To all the Ministers, partners, businesses and delegates at the Conference and beyond, I encourage you to join with us. We need your voice. You have a stake in this. It’s your future. Join us in building a sustainable future that our kids and grand kids can be a proud of. You can make a difference. Follow us in Kenya and beyond.