Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has affirmed Jamaica’s commitment to sustainably manage 100 per cent of the country’s national waters to aid in protecting the ocean’s resources globally.
This is in keeping with a new ocean action agenda focusing on developing a sustainable ocean economy, by effectively balancing conservation and sustainable use of the resources of the sea.
The agenda has been proposed by a High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) comprising 14 world leaders, including Mr. Holness.
“I reiterate that the richness of Jamaica’s oceans must be managed sustainably to ensure that productivity and diversification is achieved for the benefit of people and communities whose livelihoods depend on it and for the benefit of a healthy planet,” the Prime Minister said.
He was speaking at the virtual national launch for the new global agenda on Thursday (December 10).
Mr. Holness explained that on December 2, 2020, Ocean Panel members collectively put forward a new ocean action agenda “to achieve 100 per cent sustainable ocean management of areas with a national jurisdiction guided by sustainable ocean plans by 2025, and to support a global target to protect 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030”.
Since December 3, Ocean Panel countries have been hosting a series of national launch events to signify and build global political will around their commitments.
The Prime Minister emphasised that the new ocean agenda is the result of an unprecedented scientific knowledge base for action, including 20 commissioned blue papers, three special reports, and a politically endorsed document, titled, ‘Transformations for a Sustainable Economy: A Vision of Protection, Production and Prosperity’.
“The transformations document set out a headline commitment to 100 per cent sustainable ocean management in national waters and offers 74 priority actions that focus on five critical areas – ocean wealth, ocean health, ocean equity, ocean knowledge and ocean finance.
Together, they point to where the world should be in the next decade when the United Nations (UN) Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development conclude,” he noted.
The Prime Minister said he is pleased to bring national spotlight to this global initiative, noting that Vision 2030, Jamaica’s National Development Plan, actively advocates for the sustainable management and use of environmental resources.
“This national commitment towards achieving ocean sustainability in Jamaica was bolstered by the establishment of the multi-agency National Council on Ocean and Coastal Zone Management to formulate marine sector policies and promote public awareness of the importance of marine resources to sustainable development,” he said.
The Prime Minister further pointed to initiatives currently being pursued that recognise the importance of national ocean resources, including the World Bank-funded project for assessment and economic valuation of coastal protection services provided by mangroves in Jamaica, being implemented by the University of the West indies (UWI), among other partners.
“The project aims to provide an estimate of economic value of coastal protection services provided by mangrove ecosystems. Under the project, a habitat risk assessment will be carried out to evaluate the impact of human activities on mangroves and to identify potential reduction of ecosystem services involved in coastal protection,” he said.
Also in keeping with the mission of the new ocean agenda, Mr. Holness noted, is the Government’s ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of certain types of plastics, which was imposed on January 1, 2019.
“The ban is expected to reduce the volume of plastic waste being produced, thereby reducing the volume of marine litter,” he said.
He noted, as well, that Jamaica has also been party to numerous international conventions that are directly related to safeguarding the country’s coastal marine resources. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity; the Ramsar Convention, which promotes conservation and effective management of wetland areas up to six metres below sea level, and that was ratified in 1998; and the Cartagena Convention which is aimed at protection and development of the marine environment of the wider Caribbean region.
During the event, the Prime Minister handed over the 20 blue papers to heads of agencies who will lead the implementation of the policy.
The blue papers represent the culmination of a comprehensive assessment of ocean science and knowledge commissioned by the Ocean Panel that has significant policy relevance.
The packages will also be sent to all heads of agencies relevant to ocean management as well as to national libraries and the libraries of the country’s universities, to ensure that the work will not just be an academic exercise for a few but is available to all stakeholders.
The Ocean Panel, co-chaired by Norway and Palau, is a unique group of world leaders from around the globe committed to developing, catalysing and supporting solutions for ocean health and wealth in policy, governance, technology and finance.
Prime Minister Holness was invited by Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, to join the panel two years ago.