Daily report for 4 December 2015

Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) at UNFCCC COP 21

Oceans Day, the fourth day of the RCP at the UNFCCC COP21, convened on Friday, 4 December 2015, in Paris, France. Hosted by the Global Ocean Forum, Oceans Day aimed to advance the climate and ocean agenda. Six panel sessions were convened on: challenges and opportunities in the context of climate and oceans; addressing the effects of climate change on oceans, and on coastal and small island developing states (SIDS) populations; mitigation and the oceans; adaptation, and financing for adaptation; capacity development, scientific monitoring, and public education; and, bringing it all together: a five-year agenda for action.

Special addresses were made, including from Prince Albert II of Monaco, Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation, and Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, France.

Two videos were screened, titled ‘The Nature of People,’ and ‘Moana Rua: The Rising of the Seas.’ Oceans Day was closed with a reception.


This session was co-chaired by Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador, Climate Change and SIDS Issues, Seychelles, and Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Julian Barbière, UNESCO, opened Oceans Day, calling for stronger commitment to the oceans environment. Co-Chair Jumeau introduced the ‘debt for adaptation swap’ concept and noted the Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning Initiative, covering its entire exclusive economic zone.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of Environment, Peru, described moving from the 1992 Earth Summit to the SDGs and UNFCCC COP21, underscoring oceans continued relevance. Tommy Remengesau, President, Palau, introduced the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, which includes a ‘no-take’ zone of 500,000 square kilometers, providing a critical carbon sink. Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, highlighted: keeping warming below two degrees; healthy seas; ‘blue growth’; and, global ocean governance.

Catherine Novelli, Department of State, US, on addressing ocean threats, called for: a durable climate change agreement; low-carbon economies; ocean resilience; and, worldwide monitoring. Hans Hoogeveen, Director General for Agriculture and Nature, the Netherlands, emphasized the blue economy, calling for increased investment, and focusing on oceans and food security. Achmad Poernomo, Senior Advisor on Public Policy for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia, underscored the need for improved capacity and sustainable management of oceans.         

Biliana Cicin-Sain, President, Global Ocean Forum, cautioned that oceans will be unable to perform their vital functions if climate change persists. The ensuing discussion, inter alia, addressed how to ensure oceans remain included within the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).


This session was co-chaired by Yuriko Koike, Member, House of Representatives, Japan, and Angus Friday, Ambassador of Grenada to the US. Co-Chair Koike emphasized the role oceans can play in being a reliable energy source for SIDS.

Carol Turley, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK, presenting on the science of oceans, said that even under a low-temperature-increase scenario, oceans are still at risk. David King, Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, UK, said more work needs to be done to reduce emissions while preparing for extreme climate impacts.

Michel Jarraud, Secretary General, World Meteorological Organization, underscored further strengthening of observation systems to provide better information for climate change action and decision makers. Underscoring the linkages between climate, fisheries and food security, Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General, FAO, noted FAO’s ‘Blue Growth Initiative’ and called for better aquatic resource management.

Stressing how climate change impacts marine biodiversity, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, CBD Secretariat, pointed to the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets, noting several address ocean ecosystems. Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair, Working Group II, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and University of Bremen, described oceans within IPCC reporting, mentioning a report dedicated to oceans as one of 25 proposals under consideration.

Co-Chair Friday, on behalf of Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister, Grenada, spoke on the blue economy and innovative options for financing in SIDS, calling for action before convening again next year for Oceans Day.


Introducing the film, ‘The Nature of People,’ Maria Damanaki, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), said it demonstrates how an investment in natural infrastructure is an investment in humans, the climate and nature. Kathy Baughman McLeod, TNC, moderated the session, emphasizing that the film focuses on the stories of coastal communities impacted by climate change.


Monde Mayekiso, Deputy Director-General, Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, and Heremoana Mamaatuaiahutapu, Minister of Environment and Culture, French Polynesia, co-chaired the session. Prefacing the panel session, Margaret Leinen, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, called on participants to urge their respective representatives that “we should not be removing oceans from the ADP and the Paris agreement.”

Speaking on behalf of Polynesia Against Climate Threats (P.A.C.T.), Co-Chair Mamaatuaiahutapu underscored actions and commitments to address climate change in Polynesia. Dorothée Herr, IUCN, outlined how oceans can address mitigation, citing examples including: coastal carbon wetlands; ocean carbon; ships’ emissions; renewable energy from oceans; and, ocean-based carbon sequestration. Brian Murray, Duke University, discussed the costs associated with sea-level rise, storm surges, and losses of ecosystem services, and called for dedicated ocean finance.

Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment, Australia, suggested ‘blue carbon’ be included within the Paris agreement, linked to a set of international initiatives. Inger Andersen, Director General, IUCN, expressed support for a global blue carbon partnership, stating the need to work at local, national, and global levels.

Edmund Hughes, International Maritime Organization, spoke on emissions from international shipping, and the London Convention and Protocol on marine pollution and dumping of waste. Rawleston Moore, GEF, described climate change and energy challenges in small island states, giving examples of GEF-supported projects addressing these challenges. Amb. José Filipe Moraes Cabral, Portugal, introduced his country’s ‘Ministry of the Sea’ and the World Ocean Assessment, coordinated by Portugal and Argentina.


The session was co-chaired by Meg Taylor, Secretary-General, Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, and Pacific Ocean Commissioner, and Paula Caballero, World Bank. Opening the session, Co-Chairs Taylor and Caballero described adaption as complex, but good for development. They posed questions for the panel, including on how to attract adaptation investment to ensure implementation.

Raphael Bille, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, described the evolution of adaptation in international discussions, calling for action through regional and DRR mechanisms, and ecosystem-based approaches. Cautioning that there is a lack of coherence in adaptation policies, Luke Daunivalu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fiji, stated that Fiji has prioritized water infrastructure. Referring to scientific studies, Maria Damanaki called for transforming scientific facts into action, and urged for redirecting a portion of investment from ‘gray’ to ‘green’ infrastructure. 

Noting existing adaptation challenges in Africa, such as the depletion of fish stocks, Hashali Hamukuaya, Executive Secretary, Benguela Current Commission, called for investing in multi-sectoral approaches. Admitting some maritime professionals are “guilty of criminal behavior,” Francis Vallat, President, European Network of Maritime Clusters, stated environmental awareness and operations are largely improving, citing examples of eco-friendly ship-related operations from building to scrapping.

Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Ambassador to the EU, and Ambassador on Climate Change, Palau, framed Palau as on the frontlines of climate change, and said issues of loss and damage need to be addressed.

Angus Garrett, Seafish, UK, described adaption measures taken within the UK seafood industry, underscoring wild capture of seafood as an important resource and seeing climate change as a strategic challenge.


Prince Albert II of Monaco called for reducing the divide between “the world of the sea and ‘normal’ human activities,” highlighting that, “we are living in one of the most sea-faring times in history.” He underscored the roles oceans play in supporting livelihoods and the economy, urging drawing on marine protected areas, marine renewable energies and science. Calling for new strategies, he said further political efforts are needed to strengthen the focus on oceans in the climate negotiations. In closing, he emphasized “the sea is everything.”

Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation, underscored that of the 183 coastal countries, many already feel the impacts of climate change, and shared examples from several SIDS that are developing resettlement plans to support ‘migration with dignity.’ She referred to the current migration crisis as a forewarning of the future impacts of climate change, stating that climate actions should be guided by human rights, so that future resettlement is well planned. Robinson underscored the need for capacity building for continued mitigation action.

Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, France, expressed France’s leadership in addressing climate change in oceans. She highlighted the important role that oceans play, in relation to biodiversity, quality of life, and human survival, framing Oceans Day as a key event at UNFCCC COP21. Royal closed by saying, “if we continue to work together we can reach a solution.”


This session was co-chaired by Lisa Svensson, Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh Water, Sweden, and Philippe Vallette, Director General, Nausicaá the French National Sea Center, and, Co-President, World Ocean Network. Co-Chair Svensson stressed Sweden’s efforts to implement SDG14 (Life Below Water) on oceans, while highlighting the need to address blue economy principles. Co-Chair Vallette encouraged, among other issues, fostering stronger citizen engagement on climate change. 

Hiroshi Terashima, President, Ocean Policy Research Institute, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan, suggested, inter alia, mainstreaming climate change adaptation into integrated coastal area management plans, and disaster preparedness.

Samuel Kame-Domguia, African Union (AU) Commission, provided an overview of the AU’s ‘2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy,’ saying that, among other issues, it aims to promote Africa’s blue economy.

Vladimir Ryabinin noted that the IOC places an emphasis on capacity building, and urged for implementing: a technology transfer programme for developing countries; and, technical capacity development.

José Soares dos Santos, Fundação Franciso Manuel dos Santos, Portugal, said those with knowledge and resources have an obligation to act, announcing a new foundation dedicated to ocean issues.

John Tanzer, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International, described a report on the economic value of oceans, and said, “we can’t desert the most vulnerable.”

Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator for Rhode Island, US, stated ocean damage is non-debatable, but it is often overlooked. Quoting Pope Francis, “nature never forgives,” he emphasized “we need to get this right.”

Langston James “Kimo” Goree, Founder and Chief Executive, Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vice-President, Reporting Services and UN Liaison, International Institute for Sustainable Development, underscored the importance of knowledge management, focusing on tracking issues as they emerge, developing concise, neutral and transferable messages, and building networks to share knowledge.


This session was co-chaired by Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP, and Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO. Noting expectations at COP21 are high, Co-Chair Bokova urged for addressing climate change and oceans as a ‘single agenda.’ Co-Chair Thiaw called oceans “the lungs of the planet” for their capture and storage of circa 30% of human-produced carbon.

John Pundari, Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change, Papua New Guinea, urged for advancing the nexus between climate change and oceans, and lauded SDG13 (Climate Action) and SDG14 (Life Below Water), respectfully.

Speaking on how to adopt and deepen blue economy and multi-sectoral approaches, Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, GEF, said the task ahead is achieving SDG14 (Life Below Water).

Closing the last panel, representatives of the Ocean and Climate Platform, Romain Troublé, Secretary General, Tara Expeditions, and Catherine Chabaud, President, Innovation Bleues, presented Bokova and Biliana Cicin-Sain with ocean and climate flags, thanking them for their efforts in moving the oceans and climate agenda forward.


During the reception, Edvard Hviding, University of Bergen, Norway, and Tuilagi Seiuli Allan Alo Va’ai, Pacific Outreach Coordinator, Polynesia, introduced and presented the film, ‘Moana Rua: The Rising of the Sea.’ The film used the arts to display the power and cultural significance of the ocean within Pacific communities, and depict how they perceive the impacts of climate change.

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