Reports 2017

A sustainable future for our oceans – Can the EU set the course?

27 June 2017

The Policy Dialogue started with introductory remarks from Romain Pardo, Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC). Oceans play an essential role in providing natural resources to mankind while addressing global challenges such as climate change. About 70% of the air we breathe is produced by marine plants and over 3 million people depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods. Oceans also provide sizeable economic benefits. The output of the global ocean economy is estimated at €1.3 trillion and is expected to double by 2030. The blue economy sectors vary from aquaculture, transport, tourism, to offshore renewable energy. Despite all these benefits, oceans are under serious threat due to a combination of factors. Reaping the benefits of oceans can only be done if they are managed sustainably through effective ocean governance. The value of oceans and the need to protect and manage them sustainably is gaining political traction. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development dedicates a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 14) to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources. At the UN Ocean Conference that took place in May 2017, there was an intergovernmental call for action for world leaders to support the achievement of SDG 14. 1,328 voluntary commitments were presented by governments and stakeholders, including the EU.

The EU has an important role to play in improving ocean governance and achieving SDG 14 within and beyond its borders. Policy developments indicate that the EU is willing to rise to the challenge. At this Policy Dialogue, a panel of experts discusses to what extent the EU can set the course, if it is going in the right direction, and what more can be done. Pardo welcomed a distinguished panel of guests, including Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Antonio Pinho, Counsellor for Fisheries, Integrated Maritime Policy and Forests, Permanent Representation of Portugal to the European Union; Eleni Marianou, Secretary General, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions; and Samantha Burgess, Head of European Marine Policy, WWF European Policy Office.