If the ocean goes, so do we: Pacific preps for UN Ocean Decade 2021
By Lisa Williams
Pacific Media Network
The stakes are high for the Pacific, where the pulse of an ailing ocean is sounding a warning for the future of its 12 million people.
Whatever the issue- stronger storm surges, rising temperatures in an already warm ocean, overfishing, plastic and marine pollution, or undersea mining, the impetus is quickening towards a framework that offers something for everyone who has anything to do with the ocean.
It's that sense of urgency towards making every moment of the the UN decade for the Ocean count which has brought together a unique blend of civil society activists, oceans scientists, journalists, and development specialists to a three day regional workshop at the Noumea headquarters of the Pacific Community.
Deputy Director General Cameron Diver says the secretariat, working with other regional agencies on the Pacific response to the UN Oceans Decade, has the team that will turn around a worrying report card on the Oceans.
A focus on regional approaches and consensus gives this region of small island coastal states bloc power on the global stage; and it's a strength Diver says he will also lean on when it comes to the effort, engagement and transformation that needs to happen.
"The stakes are big enough that I think we have to do it. It's not a question of should we, it's a question of when, and we will do this, we must do it," he says.
Reversing the decline of ocean health, harnessing science for development, mitigating climate change impacts will all cost money, If a givealittle page were started to crowdfund Pacific work for the Ocean's Decade, what would the target be?
"We'd be looking at billions of dollars," says Diver, "it's not a small amount of money. But, you know, what's the future of the planet worth to you?
The Pacific Community's Deputy Director General Cameron Diver says the appreciation for traditional, indigenous knowledge has been an ongoing part of how the agency works with its membership.
"We're trying to integrate more and more of what the people tell us into how we go about planning with them and implementing development work, whether that's in the coastal fisheries, whether that's agricultural techniques, whether that is trying to adapt to the consequences of natural disasters and cyclones."
He says a gathering like this week's blend of scientists, activists and journalists is a step in the right direction. when it comes to bringing global expertise into the Pacific experience.
"When you say you can't just look at science in isolation, you have to take it into account in the context of the people in the islands that you're working with. And we can amplify that Pacific voice on the regional and then on the global stage, as we move towards the UN decade (Oceans) decade."
Lisa Williams story has been developed as part of the Pacific Community Workshop on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. This was made possible through SPC’s Australian funded Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac). COSPPac works to help translate ocean science that is critical and relevant to the Pacific region to better inform evidence based decision making for our climate and oceans.
Feature photo credit: Lisa Williams