IMarEST announces voluntary commitments at UN Ocean Conference

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The IMarEST is in attendance at the UN Ocean Conference at United Nations headquarters in New York this week. This high-level conference will look at ways to support the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14): Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

In his opening remarks, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres cautioned governments that unless they overcome short-term territorial and resource interests, the state of the oceans will continue to deteriorate: “The sea has a special relationship with all of us. It keeps us alive. But that relationship is now under threat as never before… Improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we cannot afford to fail. We must jointly address the problems of governance that have held us back”

He urged an end to “the artificial dichotomy” between jobs and healthy oceans, highlighting that “the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources are two sides of the same coin”, and called for strong political leadership, new partnerships and concrete steps, such as expanding marine protected areas and reducing plastic waste pollution.

“The IMarEST is absolutely committed to supporting the implementation of SDG 14 and we are delighted to be here at the UN HQ in New York to add our voice to the global dialogue on sustainability of the oceans for the benefit of humanity” said David Loosley, Chief Executive, IMarEST.

Stakeholders are encouraged to register voluntary commitments geared at driving implementation of SDG 14 and its associated targets. The IMarEST has made two voluntary commitments so far at the conference and hopes its members will continue to support efforts, and suggest new contributions over the coming weeks and months.

Voluntary Commitment 1: Protecting the environment from harmful aquatic invasive species and pathogens introduced via ships ballast water or on ships hulls.

The introduction of aquatic invasive species to new marine and freshwater environments through ships ballast water and sediments and through hull fouling is considered to be one of the greatest threats to the worlds freshwater, coastal and marine environments and to marine biodiversity.

The IMarEST, working through its member-led expert groups in Ballast Water and Biofouling Management and through its consultative status at the International Maritime Organization, aims to ensure shipping and other maritime industries can continue to underpin trade, safety and security, and economic development with minimal environmental impact.

Voluntary Commitment 2: Improving worldwide recruitment and retention of young people into the marine sector to ensure protection of the ocean for future generations

In order to ensure global blue growth is undertaken sustainably and safely there will be an increasing need for all new entrants into the marine sector – be it engineers, scientists or technologists working in industries such shipping, offshore energy, fisheries or within research labs, academic institutions or in government offices – to have a broad multidisciplinary perspective and to be aware of ethics, socio-economics and environment sustainability to ensure the protection of the ocean for future generations and to support the implementation of SDG 14.

The IMarEST seeks to improve worldwide recruitment and retention in the marine sector whilst improving professional standards. It does so by encouraging students on all marine-related academic courses to engage in continuing professional development throughout their lives. Both financial and developmental support will also be provided to students to help them in their studies. The Institute commits to offering free membership for the next five years for all students, cadets and apprentices globally over the age of 18 undertaking a recognised course at a recognised institution.

The IMarEST also co-organised a side event at the conference with seven other organisations, led by the Government of Jamaica, looking at protecting the marine environment and resources from the adverse impacts of shipping: Partnerships in Practice – Catalysing Shipping Sector Transformation towards SDG 14. The IMarEST’s Technical & Policy Director, Bev MacKenzie, was part of a panel which discussed forward looking partnerships to support SDG14.

“Engagement of all maritime industries, including the shipping industry is vital if we are to be able to conserve and sustainably manage our oceans and seas for the benefit of future generations. This event, which highlighted the UNDP-GEF-IMO Glo-X model for capacity building, of which the IMarEST is proud to be a strategy partner, demonstrates just how much the shipping industry both cares, and can achieve, if working in partnership towards a common goal” said Bev MacKenzie, Technical & Policy Director, IMarEST.

Another side event, Copernicus Marine Service and its Ocean State Report: a valuable EU milestone and contribution to SDG 14, will highlight a report published in the IMarEST’s Journal of Operational Oceanography.

Written by 80 European scientific experts from more than 25 institutions, the Copernicus Marine Service Ocean State Report reviews the state and health of the Global Ocean and European Seas based on CMEMS capabilities.