Colleague Heads of State and Government, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to start by thanking Prime Minister Solberg for her leadership on matters of The Blue Economy, Ocean Health, and Climate Change. This has manifested in the work of the High Level Panel which is making great strides in delivering on its mandate to “develop, catalyse and support solutions for Ocean health and wealth, in policy, governance, technology and finance, which are critical to development and sustainability.”
It is also important to acknowledge the work of the secretariat from the World Resources Institute and the many experts who have committed to:
• the development of the Blue Papers,
• the Report before us today, and;
indeed, what will ultimately constitute the final report consolidating the work of this Panel. As it continues to examine the issues of Climate Change, Illegal Unreported & Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Fishing Subsidies, the Panel has determined that these are areas critical to Ocean Health.
I wish also to acknowledge and thank the members of the Panel however, for agreeing with Jamaica’s call to expand the scope of work, and to establish a working group to examine “Leadership & Action on Sustainable Tourism”. For many SIDS, certainly within the Caribbean region, coastal tourism is a key driving force within our economies.
Today marks an important milestone in the life of the Panel. The “call to Ocean Based Climate action” being made, has the full support of Jamaica as we believe it reflects the ambition required to face the urgency of today’s climate risks. It is my hope that the report before us, will serve as a wakeup call globally. Though not the first report detailing climate risks, it is the first report which creates a measurable road map for using the Ocean to provide solutions to the Climate emergency we face. Jamaica will examine it thoroughly and use it to assist with our National development planning. We know other SIDS will do so as well.
I have said in other fora that it is sometimes easy for reports to fall by the wayside. Measurable commitments however, such as those set out in the Panel’s Report which are required to tackle climate change and build resilience, provide real opportunities for us all to galvanize action with the level of urgency needed today.
SIDS like Jamaica and other Caribbean countries disproportionately face the devastating risks of Climate Change. We trust the world will not forget that our neighbours Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Puerto Rico and most recently the Bahamas, have suffered the most extreme damage to their countries due to unprecedented storms. These weather events should make the need for commitment to urgent climate action, easier for countries in less vulnerable regions, to understand.
Having spoken to the work of the Panel and the circumstances that drive our commitment to the process, allow me to highlight a few of Jamaica’s commitments for ocean-based solutions:
• In 2020, we will start an assessment of the health of approximately 7,000 hectares of existing mangrove & swamp forests and the replanting of over 2,000 hectares of mangrove and swamp forests.
• We have declared approximately 15% of Jamaica’s archipelagic marine resources legally protected through 14 Special Fishery Conservation Areas (SFCA) and 2 marine parks. By 2020, we will have increased this to 20%.
• By 2020, we will develop a mechanism to support comprehensive and integrated management of all Protected Areas in an effort to determine the true economic value of marine and coastal ecosystems and to aid in decision making.
• Jamaica has also instituted a single use plastic ban which has already started to change the composition of our waste stream and reduce the non-biodegradable waste entering the marine environment.
Jamaica is clear that there can be no lasting prosperity through pollution, and that there can be no sustainable economic development on the back of environmental degradation.
Indeed, we are ensuring that we protect our Ocean Health to generate Ocean wealth for our people.
I wish to close by again extending my congratulations to the team which worked with such commitment, on this ground-breaking report.