Statement at Launch of the Oceans Pathway

Delivered at Launch of the Oceans Pathway

Excellencies,
Distinguished colleagues from Pacific countries,

I commend Fiji for its visionary climate leadership, as the host of both the UN Ocean Conference earlier this year and this COP along with the launch of the Oceans Pathways.

Oceans are central the global carbon cycle. They remove about half the extra carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Asia and the Pacific, more than any other region, feels the impacts of climate change on our oceans and seas, countless islands and endless stretches of coastline. Warming oceans are causing ocean acidification threatening the balance and productivity of oceans.

  • In 2016, tropical cyclones and natural disasters in Asia-Pacific amounted to USD 77.2 billion in economic losses.
  • About 60 percent of coral reefs in the region are at risk from coral bleaching and destructive human activities and another 60 percent of mangrove forests protecting our coastlines is lost.

ESCAP is delighted to support the Oceans Pathway initiative and promote partnerships to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development in Asia Pacific. ESCAP has submitted a voluntary commitment at the Ocean Conference for strengthening data partnerships for Oceans in Asia and the Pacific – the Oceans Account. Oceans governance and data remain fragmented and oceans accounts are a means to bring together stakeholders and their knowledge to collaborate on addressing common challenge.

Moving forward, I see three areas ESCAP can support.

First, where finance for climate action is concerned we are convening the Asia Pacific Climate Week in mid-December, a state and non-state actors dialogue to explore ways for the countries in the region to better tap capital markets for green funding, and mobilize innovative financing for oceans, e.g. ‘blue bonds’.
Second, ESCAP has a large cities network across Asia. This can be leveraged to start a conversation jointly with Pacific cities on how coastal cities can better manage risks posed by climate change, build their resilience, contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and protect ocean health.
Third, we have been studying the effects of climate change and rising sea levels on migration especially in the Pacific to provide the evidence for developing policies to address this challenge.

Together with our partners from Fiji and all of you, ESCAP is eager to forge new partnerships to contribute its knowledge and convening platforms to support this Partnership for an Oceans Pathway in a collective effort to protect our oceans and our blue planet.

Thank you.