I am delighted to be making this statement today on behalf of the delegation of Maldives under agenda item 75 on oceans and the law of the sea.
At the outset, I would like to express our appreciation to the United Nations Division on Oceans and the Law of the Sea for its continued support and dedicated work on oceans issues.
The Maldives would first like to begin by taking note of this year’s debate on this agenda item which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and also the 20th Anniversary of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. These two anniversaries remind us the importance of emphasizing the linkage between these two fields, as well as the need to stress the importance of conservation and sustainable use of oceans.
The Maldives, like many other SIDS, is a coastal state whose economy depends on its marine resources. Given that tourism and fisheries remain our two biggest industries, preserving our oceans therefore constitutes the basis for our country’s economic, social and environmental development. We are pleased that the Oceans section of the Rio+20 outcome document took note of the importance of oceans and of the legal framework provided by UNCLOS. The provisions on sustainable tourism and the protection of coral reefs are particularly welcomed as the Maldives continues to fight the effects of anthropogenic climate change, which include sea level rise, coastal erosion, ocean acidification and coral bleaching. We remain deeply concerned about overfishing; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; discards, bycatch, perverse government subsidies; ineffective fisheries governance; overcapacity and biodiversity loss.
The Maldives welcomes the Secretary General’s ocean initiative launched on 12 August this year in the Republic of Korea to deliver the ocean related mandates consistent with Rio’s outcome document in a more coherent and effective manner. We hope that this initiative will create a platform for all stakeholders at the national and international levels to collaborate and accelerate progress in the achievement of our common goals. Preserving the oceans through protection and sustainable use is vital for the wellbeing of our future generations.
The Maldives is deeply concerned that current international efforts are not enough to meet the target of restoring fish stocks to their maximum sustainable yields by 2015. Including the reversal of biodiversity loss in the oceans, and the elimination of destructive fishing practices decided in the World Sustainable Summit. The world has missed the 2010 target to achieve a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national levels. Current trends show that the loss of species will continue throughout this century, with increasing risk of dramatic shifts in ecosystems. The Maldives therefore calls upon all member states to renew their political commitments to find an urgent solution for biodiversity loss.
In this regard, Maldives declared Baa Atoll as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on 28 June 2011. The designation of Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve signals the commitment of the people to manage it sustainably, by achieving the three functions of the Biosphere Reserve, namely conservation, sustainable development and learning. In addition, President Waheed announced at Rio+20 that we will make the whole of the Maldives a Biosphere Reserve by 2017. The initial work needed to achieve this ambitious goal is ongoing.
The Maldives believes there is a need for further commitment by States in enforcing regional agreements on the management of ocean resources. This could provide more capacity to Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and make them better equipped in ensuring the sustainable management of our oceans. Given the strategies contained in the Oceans Compact, we are keen to see results that display an increase in the sustainable management of ocean resources and a general improvement in the health of our oceans.
We take note of the Secretary General’s report, contained in Document A/67/79, focusing on the importance of marine renewable energy. The report stressed the fact that SIDS ‘are well placed to benefit from ocean thermal energy conversion, and focuses on the fact that there has been a requirement for the development of marine renewables since the first Rio conference in 1992. The call for the development of renewable energy alternatives is indeed a viable option to escape climate change, rising oil prices and also answers increasing energy demands. Unfortunately, SIDS such as the Maldives do not have sufficient resources to ensure a complete transition to a green economy and therefore remain in dire need of outside investment to develop these renewable energy options, thereby sustaining a greening of our economy. For this reason, we reiterate our urgent call for assistance in the development of marine renewable energy.
In conclusion, Mr. President, the protection and sustainable use of marine resources for SIDS like the Maldives represent a key part of our sustainable development. It is, by now, a well-recognized fact that oceans occupy a part in the economy of each state across the globe. It is therefore inexcusable for any state to ignore its duties in ensuring the protection of these resources and their sustainable use for the benefit of future generations.