Skip to content

Statement delivered by H.E. Ms. Karen Ellemann, Minister for Equal Opportunities and Nordic Cooperation, at Ocean Conference Plenary Meeting, 6 June 2017 in New York

06.06.2017  23:31

(Check against delivery)

Ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies

We are here today to address our common responsibility to work towards Sustainable Development Goal 14 and secure a sustainable Life Below Water. More than 3 billion people worldwide depend on the oceans as their primary source of protein. And millions depend on fisheries as their main income. At the same time, our oceans are facing increasing climate and environmental changes challenging both people and planet. Not least in the Small Island Developing States. This calls for joint action. Denmark is ready to contribute.

With 406 islands, Denmark is surrounded by water. The use of oceans is an integrated part of our lives. The EU marine and fisheries directives guide our policies and through the EU, Denmark contributes to joint efforts and sustainable use of the oceans.

With our development cooperation, we strive towards developing strong global partnerships aimed at promoting for example the use of green and clean energy and sustainable waste and water management. One of the most recent examples can be found in Indonesia, which – as many other countries – faces significant problems with polluting plastic in the large oceans surrounding its many islands.

With 8 million tons of plastic ending up in our oceans each year, it is a catastrophe in slow-motion.  Current projections show, that there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050 if the current development continues. A challenge too big for us to ignore.

Last month, we launched a new Danish-Indonesian partnership on waste management aimed at increasing recycling and the use of waste in energy systems. And we are supporting Indonesia’s Marine Debris Pollution Assessment and their Action Plan. The target is clear: To reduce the plastic leakage by 70% by 2025.

With our partners in the EU, we have increased the focus on the issue of plastics, through both the Circular Economy Action Plan and a new dedicated plastics strategy. A strategy that will improve recycling, cut marine litter, and remove potentially dangerous chemicals. To the benefit of people, profit and planet. 

But governments alone cannot solve the challenges we are facing. Partnerships in all forms and sizes are key to driving change and addressing global challenges. Denmark recognizes the relevance of traditional knowledge in relation to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity and its genetic resources. Indigenous peoples and local communities have a role in conservation, protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, ecosystems and its services.

But just as important, if we are to realize the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 – including SDG14 – we need to get the private sector on board. It requires increased global investments of up to 3 billion USD annually. It goes without saying, public development aid is just a drop in the ocean here. With the SDG’s we have a unique opportunity to turn global challenges and sustainable development into good business. 

The Danish government has made private sector engagement and partnerships a key part of our new strategy for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance launched earlier this year. As an example, we have engaged in a public-private partnership with the shipping industry to promote a sustainable use of harbours. Shipping is Denmark’s biggest export industry and Danish shipping transports around 10 per cent of all goods across the world. And as such it has a significant global effect, when sustainable shipping becomes a priority.

Let me end by underlining the role of women in the sustainable use of oceans. Women make up 47 per cent of the world’s 120 million people working in fisheries. We cannot realize a sustainable Life Below Water without engaging the women.

None of us can do this alone. This conference is ideal to foster the necessary relations and commitments. Denmark will submit its commitments in the coming days.

Thank you.