On 15 July 2020, the European Commission and the European External Action Service launched a targeted consultation to assess development needs and options for the EU’s international ocean governance agenda.
Ocean governance concerns the international and regional processes, agreements, rules and institutions that allow the international community to coordinate and work together for conservation and sustainable use at sea, where challenges cannot be tackled by one country alone.
The consultation aims to identify relevant actions in light of today’s challenges and opportunities to deliver global sustainability objectives for oceans in particular the Sustainable Development Goal on the oceans (SDG14) under the 2030 Agenda in support of the European Green Deal.
High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell said: “The protection of our oceans is a global challenge that requires a collective response. The European Union is doing its part and ready to do more. We are determined to continue to fulfil our responsibility towards our citizens and to work with partners across the world. We all want sustainable and healthy oceans and to improve their governance.”
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries said: “The EU is fully committed to promoting ocean governance. We are a reliable partner in strengthening the international framework, a top donor in building capacity, a strong supporter of ocean science and a business partner for the sustainable ‘blue economy’. This consultation will help the EU to lead on delivering of global sustainability objectives for the ocean.”
The European Commission and the European External Action Service adopted the international ocean governance agenda in 2016 to promote an effective and coherent EU contribution towards healthy, clean, secure, safe and sustainably managed oceans. The agenda identified 50 actions to improve the international framework, reduce pressures, facilitate a sustainable blue economy, and strengthen international ocean research and data.
A progress report published in March 2019 confirmed timely delivery of most actions and confirmed the agenda’s value for concerted and targeted EU action. In light of the growing scientific evidence that further action is needed to tackle ocean challenges including climate change and the rapid loss of marine biodiversity, EU Member States expressed their support to follow-up and further develop the international ocean governance agenda in the Council Conclusions on Oceans and Seas adopted in November 2019.
The consultation will help to:
- re-examine the EU's role in strengthening international ocean governance;
- re-examine the three priorities of the current agenda and its goals and actions; and
- identify new policy areas or actions to tackle existing or emerging challenges
Stakeholders within and beyond Europe including public authorities, international organisations, NGOs, financial institutions, academic, scientific, social and economic partners are encouraged to participate.
The consultation complements the International Ocean Governance Forum, launched with a virtual event on 22-24 April 2020, to support follow-up and development of the agenda. The next meeting of the forum will take place in Brussels, 14-16 December 2020.