The science we need now, for the ocean we both want and need is critical: Diver
By Pita Ligaiula in Noumea
The Pacific Community (SPC) has called on the Pacific to determine the critical ocean science we need to address the scale of the challenge we face.
Addressing the Pacific Community workshop on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) in Noumea, deputy SPC director Cameron Diver said Our Ocean and the waters Pacific people have been custodians of for thousands of years is at risk.
“The reality is Our Ocean is dying.
“To stem this destruction we must put relevant, timely and evidence based scientific solutions in place to ensure we provide our future generations with a chance of living sustainably.
“With that said, this workshop is not an ordinary workshop. It is one where Weget to determine the critical ocean science we need to address the scale of the challenge we face. This opportunity is yours to determine and drive,” he told delegates in Noumea.
In numbers the Pacific are custodians of 28 million square miles – comparable to the entire continent of Africa. This Diver said accounts for more than 20 percent of the world’s exclusive economic
rights but these rights come with great responsibilities.
“The Pacific, at present, has one of the world’s lowest capacities in Ocean Science however this is not to be confused with knowledge. As Pacific custodians of this ocean space we have embedded traditional practices and culture into the body of water that gives this region life.
“In the first World Ocean Assessment the reality we face became stark! We know major features of the ocean are changing sufficiently as a result of climate change and the flow on impact this has on our atmosphere is clear.
“The findings of this report show the ocean’s carrying capacity is near or at its limit. The report calls for urgent action on a global scale to protect the world’s oceans from the pressures it faces. For example climate change is causing global sea-levels have risen by 3.2 (three-point-two)millimetres per year. Rates of sea-level rise on some Pacific islands are four times greater than the global average,” he said.
Diver emphasised the rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are resulting in increased uptake by the ocean.
“There is no doubt the ocean is absorbing more and more of the rising concentrations of carbon dioxide with research showing about 26 per cent of the increasing emissions of carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean. The resulting acidification of the ocean is occurring at different rates around the seas, but ultimately this impacts marine species greatly.
“These impacts effect our people across the Pacific region. We are already witnessing the increased severity of storms and severe weather as the heat in our ocean provides more energy to these super cells. In addition, the changes in the ocean life cycle directly impacts our communities, economies, cultures and traditions.
“The science we need now, for the ocean we both want and need is critical. It is urgent. If we save our ocean, we save our people, traditions, cultures and future.
“So where to from here? We must build our capacity to conduct and apply ocean science and accelerate the transfer of marine technology into our region. Without a knowledge-first approach our development will not be sustainable, and we will not be able to reverse the decline in ocean health,” explained Diver.
Diver stressed the meeting is an opportunity to shape the Decade Pacific want and to ensure the needs of the region are articulated and incorporated into the planning phase of the Decade.
“This capacity building and the transfer of marine technology is not going to happen without you. It needs to be designed and it needs to be based on the needs of our region. Long-term and sustained resourcing and funding are crucial.
“This consultation process is one I believe must be determined by you. By the Pacific and the people of the Pacific. This region are best placed to both understand the greatest challenges caused by the existential threat of climate change whilst driving resilient, effective and robust solutions to overcome the risks posed to our ocean.
“Many of the people that will lead us towards an effective implementation of the Agenda 2030 and SDG14 sit here today in this room. YOU are the experts, practitioners, specialists and agencies that understand both the imminent threat and the opportunity we have to overcome it.
“Your presence here is evidence there is a great appetite for ocean science, and your participation is an opportunity to have multidisciplinary dialogue to determine ocean research priorities that will meet our national development objectives.
“The most critical moment is now. We, as a group must decide where to from here - not only to ensure future generations have a chance at living sustainably but to ensure we direct the science we need for our ocean and people,” said Diver.
Pita Ligaiula’s 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.