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Vital Role of Ocean in Upcoming COP 26 Highlighted by World Leaders as UN Global Compact Launches Ocean Stewardship Coalition
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Vital Role of Ocean in Upcoming COP 26 Highlighted by World Leaders as UN Global Compact Launches Ocean Stewardship Coalition

September 21, 2021

New ‘Ocean Stewardship Coalition’ will scale up the global impact of ocean business to meet the urgency of climate crisis and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

With less than two months until COP 26, the United Nations Global Compact launched the Ocean Stewardship Coalition today to address the twin crises of biodiversity and climate change. Research suggests that ocean mitigation solutions could reduce the emissions gap by up a fifth on a 1.5° C pathway by 2050.

Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, joined Sanda Ojiambo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, UN officials, senior business executives, trade union heads and government leaders at Uniting Business LIVE on Monday to launch the Ocean Stewardship Coalition and, to discuss the role of the private sector in delivering on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and a net-zero, resilient and equitable ocean economy.

Building on the findings of its new Blueprint for a Climate-Smart Ocean to Meet 1.5° C, also launched during the event, the UN Global Compact is calling for the following key actions ahead of COP 26:

  • Include the ocean-climate nexus in political processes, including through mainstreaming ocean-based mitigation and adaptation measures in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) under the Paris Agreement
  • Use COP 26 to raise political recognition for ocean nature-based solutions - including seaweed and mangroves - which can address the twin crises of biodiversity and climate change
  • Mainstream mitigation and adaptation into marine spatial planning, making optimal use of well-designed Marine Protected Areas
  • Encourage private sector engagement in ocean management, including through implementing restorative and nature inclusive approaches to bridge climate mitigation with biodiversity
  • Ocean-based corporations to take ambitious mitigation action by setting science-based targets (SBTs) aligned with a 1.5° C trajectory across their value chains.
  • Business and policy leaders to adopt a human-centred approach by addressing environmental injustices in climate-smart policies
  • Use blue finance to drive corporate sustainability, develop ocean management plans and strengthen resilient coastal infrastructure, particularly in developing countries
  • Prioritize industry-policy science collaboration on data collection, sharing and management to facilitate risk-assessment and monitor marine ecosystems.

Speakers also used the high-level meeting to call for Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized UN agency, to be consistent with their position in the IMO and their commitments under the Paris Agreement. According to the UNFCCC High Level Climate Champions, shipping needs to urgently decarbonize by 2050 if we are to stay within 1.5° C. A new brief - Charting a 1.5 C Trajectory for Maritime Transport - also issued by the UN Global Compact highlights the need for the transition to zero emission shipping to be equitable, providing green job opportunities.

Sanda Ojiambo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact said: “The ocean plays a critical role in climate change mitigation and adaptation and must be integral to COP 26 considerations in Glasgow in November. The Sustainable Ocean Principles, developed by the UN Global Compact, are a baseline for responsible business practices in the ocean. We hope more organizations will join us and commit to securing a healthy ocean and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 through our new Ocean Stewardship Coalition.”  

Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean: “The challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss cannot be overcome unless the ocean is central to considerations. Also true is that strong global governance and coordination will be essential to realising the full potential of a sustainable ocean economy. The launch of the UN Global Compact Ocean Stewardship Coalition is timely - never has collaboration between multi-stakeholders been more vital.”

Gonzalo Munos, COP 26 High Level Climate Champion: “The ocean has been dramatically impacted by human activity while holding solutions to address both the climate and nature emergencies. The Ocean Stewardship Coalition is a critical global and cross-sector initiative to accelerate blue solutions and deliver on the targets of the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns.''

Stephen Cotton, UN Global Compact Board Member and General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said: “COP 26 needs to trigger ambitious action. Green shipping has to be decent shipping. A transition to zero emissions offers opportunities across the value chain for maritime and offshore workers. The new brief from the UN Global Compact outlines crucial steps, such as accounting for reskilling and health and safety standards, which must include a workers’ voice in decision-making to ensure secure, decent work as we transition our industry.”

Thomas Thune Anderson, Chairperson, Orsted and Lloyds Register:  “The ocean hosts a wealth of solutions but this activity should not come at the expense of nature. A well-managed ocean is key to enabling ocean industries and users meet the Paris Agreement goals by scaling-up ocean mitigation and adaptation solutions. Future-looking ocean management requires cross-sectoral collaboration and knowledge-exchange more than ever. If done well, ocean management can also help stakeholders conserve and even enhance marine biodiversity. The Ocean Stewardship Coalition is well-positioned to drive innovation around future uses of the ocean.”  

Remi Eriksen, CEO, DNV: "The Paris Agreement cannot be met without the ocean industries.  The ocean offers vast opportunities for renewable energy as well as efficient transport solutions.  Policymakers must ensure that policy supports technology development, testing, piloting, and scaling in order to activate markets and close the profitability gap of zero carbon solutions.  All partners of the Ocean Stewardship Coalition must ensure that our oceans are part of the solution space when it comes to finding a pathway to a zero carbon future."

Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, EVP & CEO, Fleet & Strategic Brands, A.P. Moller - Maersk: ”Partnerships between governments, the private sector, multilateral institutions and civil society are essential to ensure a healthy ocean, marine biodiversity as well as strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. The Ocean Stewardship Coalition enables a global governance that will empower the world to safeguard the future uses of the ocean and meet the urgency of the climate crises. With the right framework companies can lead, and when their entire workforces are engaged, the mindset, behavior and lifestyles can change”.

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