This article is part of the 4sea project.
When 4sea started its work about one year ago we wanted to shed light on the mysteries of the ocean. We raised awareness and understanding of the consequences of climate change on the ocean by articles, videos and workshops. In the international climate change conference we worked on the Ocean Pathway Partnership and showed why and where to give the oceans a home in UNFCCC.
Many ocean initiatives have emerged in the past year starting with the big and first ever World Oceans Conference in New York in June 2017. Several months later the 23rd Conference of the Parties was presided by Fiji. As this small Island Development State has to deal with natural hazards such as sea level rise, rising temperatures and storms frequently, oceans were set and dealt with in many side-events and in the Ocean Pathway Partnership (OPP). The Ocean Pathway Partnership was promoted and launched by the Fijian COP delegation. It contains a roadmap and aspects about oceans which need to be discussed within the climate diplomacy. Many countries like e.g. France and Sweden joined the launch of the OPP and committed to contribute to its targets. These mainly consist in climate change mitigation and adaptation with a special emphasis on coastal communities and vulnerable countries.
Not only on the road to the this year´s Talanoa Dialogue in December at COP24 there is a need to urge countries to step up climate actions and include ambitious marine targets into their Nationally Determined Contributions. Canada hosts the G7 Heads of States Summit today and tomorrow and defined climate change, oceans and energy to be one of the pillars of this year´s summit. There is a special gathering of ministers of Environment, Oceans and Energy in fall this years. In this light we will follow the G7 2018. We expect the leaders to address climate change impacts on oceans and take all political measures to keep them as small as possible. This includes a quick fossil fuel phase-out and enforcing energy transition towards renewables.
In the future ocean protection must come to the top of countries´ priority list. We call upon governments and environmental planners to create large-scale Marine Protected Areas (MPA). In creating MPAs we give the Fauna and Flora of the ocean a chance to adapt to changing conditions, but not only that. Coral reefs and Mangroves are not only nice to look at but they act as natural barriers when storms hit the coast. Reforestation of mangroves and coral reefs is therefore essential for the survival of islands. A huge plus is of course that mangroves are storing CO2. Carbon dioxide is also absorbed by sea grass. However, sea grass is threatened by human activity as well and needs protection to perform photosynthesis to breath away what we emit.
It is also crucial to address threats to the oceans at the source. Climate change is a key driver of ocean acidification, ocean warming and thereby biodiversity loss. Climate change mitigation through fossil fuel phase out is inevitable. At the same time we need climate change adaptation with sound financial basis for coastal communities and vulnerable countries.
After one interesting and adventurous year tracking international ocean policies 4sea will continue its work more ambitious than ever. We will follow the upcoming COPs and the currently taking place G7 summit. After pursuing the international political agenda we will also set our own agenda by e.g. dealing with sustainable transport and the Arctic. Stay tuned!
About the author : Mona Hosseini is one of two Project Coaches of 4Sea and member of CliMates. She studies Environmental and Resource Economics in Kiel (Germany), close to the Baltic Sea. She holds a bachelor degree in Environmental Studies and Economics.
It’s World Ocean’s Day and this article has been written in the context of 4sea. 4sea, a project about the importance of the world oceans, addresses the interdependence between the oceans and climate change, entraining everyone to become ocean lovers. 4sea is a joint project between the youth organisations CliMates, Youth for Ocean and Vitamin Sea. Love it? Stay tuned for more !