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Moving on from the 2017 UN Oceans Conference: Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals

Johnson, David; Ferreira, Maria Adelaide

ATLAS work package 7 presentation at ATLAS 3rd General Assembly

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN Resolution A/RES/70/1, 2015) set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets. Some of these have the potential to reinforce each other, whilst others may conflict and require trade-offs. The UN Oceans Conference in 2017 was largely dedicated to SDG 14 and work is needed to integrate this ocean-specific goal with other SDGs (e.g. SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production).
A feature of the 2017 UN Oceans Conference (and some previous and subsequent events) was a request for voluntary commitments (VCs) intended to provide resources and expertise needed to implement the SDGs. By the end of 2017 a total of 1406 VCs had been registered. A Workshop convened by the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam in December 2017 discussed setting up a system of tracking and reporting on these VCs; creating a global registry and so-called ‘communities of ocean action’.
This is the first time the ocean has been included prominently within a globally agreed overarching sustainability agenda. Cooperation at the regional scale is advocated through transparent multi-stakeholder partnerships and regular dialogues. How this is to take place in any coordinated way is unclear. ATLAS has an opportunity to demonstrate successful cross-sectoral learning and coordination. Synergies and trade-offs can be highly place-specific and tailored to governance contexts so practical examples from ATLAS case studies are needed. The success of these spatially managed marine areas relates directly to concepts of Blue Growth.
Ferreira et al. (2018) have proposed a framework to evaluate marine spatial planning focussing on tangible outcomes. A suite of 15 indicators as a participatory approach to monitoring and evaluation were selected to evaluate the Portuguese marine governance framework. The utility of the model, comprising both contextual indicators and indicators specific to MSP inputs, process, outputs and outcomes, is now being considered as a basis for evaluating different national MSPlans. In theory it could also be adapted to the ATLAS context, for specific ‘blue growth’ case studies, taking into account deep-sea ecosystem goods and services related to delivery of the SDGs, in line with MESMA Framework Step 6.

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