Statement by James A Michel, Former President of the Republic of Seychelles, Founder and Chair of the James Michel Foundation on the Convening of the UN High-Level Conference on Oceans
The high-level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) opens today in New York City, a great city bathed by the mighty Atlantic Ocean. The four-day event has as its theme “Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14”. It will coincide with World Oceans Day 2017, on 8 June.
It is a high-level conference which is long overdue. Nonetheless, it provides us – a group of nations, large and small, at different stages of development – with a setting that is second to none for a lively exchange of ideas and experience on ocean governance. What happens at sea matters to us all; its use is an issue for humanity, an issue that knows no boundaries, an issue where all voices need to be heard.
We cannot afford to ignore what the oceans have to offer, for ours is a Blue Planet, where little more than a quarter of the surface area is comprised of land.
The Blue Economy concept is intrinsically linked with our Blue Planet and the concept itself is increasingly gaining currency internationally and is now a fixture of the global development agenda.
To sustain life on earth, new ways have to be found to grow food, generate energy, and conserve the environment on which our future depends. The way is to start by looking out to the sea. There, stretching to the horizons, lies the real future. This is precisely what the Blue Economy concept advocates.
The world’s best minds need to turn their attention to the oceans, breaking new frontiers of knowledge and application. We can create new opportunities, exploring the hidden depths of the mighty oceans. The future is, indeed, Blue.
This is an influential forum. As individuals, who believe passionately in saving our Blue Planet and in the sustainable management of our oceans, and as nations – large or small – we can make the difference.
I am convinced that this UN High-Level Conference can make the difference and will chart the way forward for the sustainable use of our oceans.
We are on the right path. I wish all the participants to this Conference much success in their deliberations.
Former President of the Republic of Seychelles
Founder and Chair of the James Michel Foundation