7 June 2017, New York – On the third day of the 2017 Ocean Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, global business leaders gathered at a side event to emphasize the private sector’s role in saving our oceans. The side event, titled The Ocean Business Community: Partnering for Implementation of SDG 14, was co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Ocean Council, and the United Nations Global Compact.

Mr. Paul Holthus, President and CEO of the World Ocean Council, chaired the meeting and explained the two roles his organization plays in engaging the private sector. The first is creating a partnership between industries that share a common reliance on the ocean for their business operations. Then, in its second role, the World Ocean Council works to connect this industry-diverse partnership with other ocean stakeholders, like the United Nations.

Along the same vein, participants heard from six business leaders, whose industries each rely heavily on the oceans and their resources, about their company’s efforts to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,” as per SDG 14.

During her opening remarks, Ms. Louise Kantrow, Permanent Representative to the UN from the International Chamber of Commerce, called the private sector “a solution provider” and reiterated the importance of business partnerships with countries and communities most vulnerable to the effects of ocean degradation. “It is clear that business [is] going to play an important role,” Ms. Kantrow explained.

Serving as a “bridge to the private sector” for these countries and communities is the role assumed by the UN Global Compact, explained its Executive Director, Ms. Lise Kingo.

She continued by drawing a parallel between the conversation happening now about the oceans and that, which began over 20 years ago, about climate change. Despite the similar rhetoric, Ms. Kingo urged that “we don’t have another 20 years to figure it out for the oceans.” However, she concluded that on-boarding the private sector, at such an early stage, in the conversation around oceans was promising, because “when business gets involved, when everyone rallies around the agenda, we can make a real difference.”

The six private sector speakers represented a broad set of industries, including water management, seismology, wind power, sustainable seafood, cruise lines, and shipping, and discussed measures that they were independently undertaking to #SaveOurOceans. The speakers were as follows:

  • Jean-Louis Chaussade, CEO, Suez
  • Bard Stenberg, Vice President, PGS
  • Joao Metelo, CEO, Principle Power
  • Rich Stavis, CEO, Stavis Seafood
  • Donnie Brown, VP, Marine Policy, Cruise Line International Association
  • Simon Bennet, Director of Policy and Ext. Relations, International Chamber of Shipping

Across all six presentations, one common theme emerged. It was that regulation alone would be insufficient to mobilize industries to protect the oceans. Many speakers outlined that regulatory frameworks were challenging due to the indistinct jurisdiction of the oceans and the fact that “fish don’t respect borders”, as Mr. Rich Stavis of Stavis Seafood aptly put it.

There was a call for organizations to work with the private sector to create incentives designated to improve the alignment between business and environmental interests, through technology or partnerships. An example, suggested by Mr. Simon Bennet of the International Chamber of Shipping, was any technological innovation that could allow ships to utilize clean energy sources like hydrogen fuel cells. Another was finding true alternatives to plastic: “technological innovation is absolutely necessary to protect the oceans against plastic,” said Mr. Jean-Louis Chaussade, the CEO of Suez.

Ultimately, the prevailing sentiment was that integrating companies in tackling Sustainable Development Goal 14 has led to and will continue to result in the private sector leading conservation and protection efforts for our oceans. Integration with the business community is, as the event sponsors illustrated in their opening remarks, the best chance we have at saving our oceans.

Feature Photo: Britt Martin/UN-OHRLLS

The second annual Global Multi-stakeholder Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Partnership Dialogue will take place on 7 June 2017, 1.15-2.30 PM in ECOSOC Chamber, organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) in consultation with the Steering Committee on Partnerships for SIDS, co-chaired by Maldives and Italy.

New York, 28 April 2017 – This month has seen a renewed focus on the private sector’s role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On April 5th, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) hosted a Global Forum on Development in Paris with the expressed purpose to “optimise the private sector’s role in advancing sustainable development”. The United Nations (UN) facilitated a one-day SDG Financing Lab at its headquarters in New York on April 18th; one aim of the Lab was to increase awareness of “the significant business opportunities provided by the SDGs”. Most recently, on April 20th, at the World Bank Group (WBG) Spring Meeting in Washington, DC, a session on Implementing The 2030 Agenda called on the WBG “to scale up its financing mobilisation efforts from both public and private sources”. Read More

New York, 21 April 2017 – IUCN Oceania’s Energy, Ecosystems and Sustainable Livelihoods Initiative (EESLI) has been funding renewable energy and energy efficiency development in 14 Pacific Island Countries through a multilateral agreement with the Governments of Austria, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain since 2008. The Energy Small Grants Programme will provide funding of up to US$20,000 for renewable energy & energy efficiency based projects in any of the participating countries, which currently include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Read More

New York, 2 February 2017 – For private sector interested in attending or learning more about The Ocean Conference, the Global Compact will be conducting a webinar on March 8th, 2017 at 10AM EST entitled: Conservation and Sustainable Use of Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources: Business Advancing the Implementation of SDG 14. The webinar will provide participants with an update on the process leading to The Ocean Conference and will highlight opportunities for private sector stakeholders to participate and contribute to this global effort for the implementation of SDG 14.  For more information and to register for the webinar, click here. Read More

New York, 17 February 2017 – The Common Fund For Commodities (CFC) is inviting applications for support of commodity development activities in its member countries*. All interested parties are kindly invited to submit qualifying proposals no later than April 30th, 2017. Read More

New York, 2 February 2017 – Article by Diego Acevedo, Co-Founder, Bluerise

Due to their small scale, most tropical islands suffer from high energy costs related to the import of liquid fuels, such as diesel or heavy fuel oil.  With conventional electricity costs often ranging well above 20 to 50 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour, these countries would benefit from the more rapid implementation of sustainable energy alternatives. Read More

New York, 26 January 2017 – The United Nations is set to convene the The Ocean Conference from June 5th-9th 2017 to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. The Conference, to be held at UN headquarters in New York, is seen as a breakthrough for global commitment to reverse the decline in the health of the ocean with a strong focus on solutions and effective engagement by all stakeholders. Read More

New York, 22 September 2016 – Small island leaders met with partners from the private sector, civil society and United Nations in New York this week to discuss the eradication of plastic pollution from the ocean and formulate an alliance to avoid, intercept and redesign plastics. Read More

New York, 8 June 2016 – At a special event marking World Oceans Day 2016 with the arrival of the Hōkūleʻa voyaging canoe in New York, Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and Mr. Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans announced collaboration between the two organisations with a special invitation to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to rally together to adopt the Parley A.I.R. Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) and join the movement to eradicate one of the biggest threats to the marine ecosystem: plastic pollution and set a tone of unity and action towards The Ocean Conference to be held at UN Headquarters in New York. Read More

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