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SUMMARY 2ND EU INTERNATIONAL OCEAN GOVERNANCE FORUM, 14-16 DEC 2020

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2021 - 12:10
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    The European Commission and the European External Action Service hosted around 350 global stakeholders at an online forum to discuss ocean challenges and define action-oriented proposals towards global ocean sustainability objectives — the EU International Ocean Governance (IOG) Forum 2020: Setting the Course for a Sustainable Blue Planet. 

    December’s three-day IOG Forum was part of the follow-up action to the Commission’s 2016 adoption of the IOG Agenda. The IOG Forum brought together ocean stakeholders within and beyond Europe to share understanding, experiences and best practices on ocean governance to support the development of the IOG Agenda for the future of our oceans. 

    Participants discussed the proposals made in the first IOG Forum webinars and workshops, as well as the online consultation to assess needs and options for the follow-up to the IOG Agenda. The focus was on how best transform these ambitions into priority actions to be considered for the Commission’s post-2020 IOG Agenda. 

    During the high-level opening held on December 14, 2020, Frans Timmermans (Executive Vice-President of the European Commission) and Virginijus Sinkevičius (Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries) presented EU policy priorities and shared their views on recent developments in international ocean governance, making reference to action proposals that had emerged from the consultation process to strengthen existing initiatives, processes, and instruments.  

    Executive Vice President Timmermans linked international ocean governance and the European Green Deal, stressing the pivotal role our blue planet plays in meeting EU Green Deal objectives: “One of the defining tasks of our times, one of the most pressing challenges for Europe today is keeping our planet healthy, including our ocean, the largest ecosystem on Earth, home to millions of species and an essential component of climate regulation. " 

    Commissioner Sinkevičius introduced results from the IOG Forum discussions and targeted consultation, calling for a reinforced strategic orientation suggesting upscaling actions to reduce emissions from maritime transport, protect biodiversity, achieve zero pollution and drive a sustainable Blue Economy including fisheries.  

    Two roundtables of ocean experts focused on 1) international ocean governance as a driver for a healthy ocean, planet and people, and 2) international ocean governance as a driver for a sustainable recovery. 

    Several key messages resulting from the discussion included:  

    • That there is a need for the EU to deliver on implementation of existing ocean instruments, and to integrate ocean policies with other areas such as climate policies at home to back international leadership. 

    • The Global Biodiversity Framework under negotiation must be ambitious, inclusive and enabling, ocean resilience should be a priority in relevant EU policies, and the EU should push for a robust treaty on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. 

    • There is potential for the EU to upscale its leadership in strengthening the ocean governance framework, including through driving reform on how RFMOs work, promoting sector integration, supporting performance reviews for international bodies, and committing to mobilising more resources for marine biodiversity and a blue-green economy. 

    The session was closed with a speech from Pedro Serrano, Head of Cabinet of EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP) and from Josep Borrell on global responsibility and multilateral cooperation to protect the ocean. 

    Forum participants engaged in breakout workshops on 15 – 16 December to discuss how to translate proposals made in the first IOG Forum webinars and workshops, and the online consultation, into priority actions in light of key messages from the high-level event on the first day to be included in the Commission’s post-2020 IOG Agenda. 

    The workshops were introduced by Veronica Veits (Director of International Ocean Governance & Sustainable Fisheries at DG MARE), and participants co-created recommendations using the Padlet virtual collaboration tool.  

    The workshop topics explored on 15 & 16 December were, with full descriptions here

    • Ocean solutions to climate change 

    • Sustainable seafood 

    • Cooperation across sectors and boundaries 

    • Ocean knowledge systems 

    • Conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity 

    • A sustainable blue economy 

    • Compliance to regulations and meeting commitments 

    • Co-designed transdisciplinary research 

    • Zero pollution to marine ecosystems 

    • Resilient ocean governance and sustainable recoveries  

    • Financing to drive transition 

    • Sustained ocean observations and integrated data 

    During the final plenary session, facilitators shared results from each workshop, and high-level moderators and participants Kristina Gjerde (Senior High Seas Advisor, IUCN) and Rémi Parmentier (Director, Varda Group) reflected on the discussions from the workshops. The session was closed with final comments from Raphaël Goulet, Head of Unit Ocean Governance, Law of the Sea, Arctic Policy DG MARE.  
     
    The ideas, input, and messages unearthed in the EU IOG Forum 2020 will now be reviewed, translated into fitting recommendations for the IOG Agenda and presented in the third and final IOG Forum event, to be held in the second quarter of 2021. Please stay tuned for more information — a date for the final event is expected at the start of February.  
     
    More information on the IOG Forum is available here, and the December IOG Forum Discussion Paper can be accessed here.  

    The three-day event was collectively facilitated by IOG Forum partners Fresh Thoughts, the European Marine Board, TMG - Think Thank for Sustainability, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and ACTeon. 

    For any queries, please send a message to EU-OCEAN-GOVERNANCE-FORUM@ec.europa.eu.